Growing tulips in pots is something that is pretty easy to do. Indeed, the tulip is a bulb plant that easily adjusts to this type of growing. The only requirement is to prefer short-stemmed varieties. Within this category, you might want to try one or more of the many species of botanical tulips and early tulips. Choosing the right pot, the adequate substrate, planting guide and care… Here are the 5 key points to know so that your potted tulips can thrive.
Choosing the right pot for a tulip
Tulip copes equally well with being planted in either a pot or a garden box. The best tulip pot size is at least 8 inches (20 cm) across, with a depth of 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 cm). Make sure that whatever you choose, there’s a drainage hole at the bottom. Note that the larger the pot, the more bulbs you can plant. This will give you many more flowers!
- You can plant from 2 up to 9 tulip bulbs in a container 10 inches (20 cm) wide.
- Pots that are 20 inches wide (50 cm) can even welcome up to 25 average-sized bulbs.
As for what type of material to use, tulips will grow fine in terra cotta pots, and they’ll do well in ceramic and plastic pots, too. Terra cotta is preferable, though, since it allows for better breathing for the soil than plastic does – a key factor in avoiding stagnant moisture.
Selecting the right substrate
The tulip is a plant that hates stagnant water, especially during the cold season As a result, it must absolutely be planted in well-draining substrates. Best is to go for a blend with the following proportions: very good soil mix, ¼th regular garden soil and ¼th river sand. To give the plant the nutrients it needs, feel free to add a bit of ripe compost to the mix.
Planting a tulip in a pot
- Start off with a thick layer of gravel or clay pebbles along the bottom of the planter or pot.
- Cover this drainage layer with a swath of geotextile.
- Measure how tall the bulb is, and then plant the tulip at a depth of 2 to 2½ times as deep.
- Fill in the rest of the pot with substrate: it should almost reach the rim of the pot, leaving only half an inch (1 cm) of free space.
Where to place potted tulips
Over winter, it’s best to set your potted tulips outdoors (bulbs need a stint in the cold to bloom), except if you live in places where the cold is particularly harsh. In this case, simply find the coolest possible spot that doesn’t freeze. When comes the spring, and for the whole summer and fall, move your potted tulips to a sun-filled terrace or balcony. Indeed, whether it’s growing in the ground or in a planter, a tulip will always love full sun! It favors lush growth and blooming.
Proper care for a potted tulip
Water your tulips regularly, but avoid drenching the pot entirely: this washes nutrients out of the pot. Moreover, we’ve seen that tulips hate overly moist soil: it makes freezing damage much worse in winter. Of similar concern is the type of water you use: best is rain water, or even filtered water. Tap water is generally too full of calcium carbonate for this bulb flower. Occasionally, provide your tulips with special bulb flower fertilizer: it enhances the blooming. Appearance of the first leaves is the best time to fertilize. After the blooming, cut the wilted flower stem but leave the leaves until they also turn yellow. This is the time to pull the tulip bulbs out, and to store them in a dry and ventilated space for them to keep until fall again comes around.
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