In the bulb flower category, tulips are universal favorites in our gardens.
Top tulip facts
Height – 8 to 30 inches (20 to 75 cm)
Soil – well-drained
Exposure – full sun
Flowering – March to May
Planting tulips well and caring for them will enhance blooming and let them grow more year after year.
To have beautiful tulips in spring, bulb planting should start early fall to mid-December at the latest. This lets them spread roots over the winter and spring flowers will be larger and more vigorous.
However, many horticulture store and garden shops only start selling bulbs early spring, which ensures they aren’t lost to pests and foragers during the winter.
Dig a hole 2 or 3 times as deep as the tulip bulb is high, to protect it from freezing. Space tulip bulbs at least 4 inches (10 cm) apart, but don’t spread them too much, either.
- Choose a well-lit place to get nice blooms.
- A well drained soil will guarantee a better growth for your tulips.
- Upon planting the bulbs, throwing a handful of soil mix at the bottom of the hole will significantly increase growth and blooming of your tulips.
Grouping tulips together in small bunches of 10 to 50 bulbs produces a much nicer effect than simply spreading them by twos or threes across the garden.
- Take a look at our guide detailing how to plant bulbs.
- Learn how to plant bulbs in clay soil or flood-prone areas.
Planting tulip in pots
Tulips are particularly well suited to being planted in pots.
- In fall, plant 3 to 4 tulip bulbs per pot and cover with around 4 inches (10 cm) soil mix.
- Let your pots spend the winter outside, unless the climate is very harsh, in which case bring them in a cool place where they will be protected from the coldest freezing.
- In spring, bring the pots out to the terrace and water if it doesn’t rain.
- At the end of the blooming period, wait for leaves to turn yellow before cutting them off.
- You may either leave the bulbs in their pot, or dig them up to store them in a cool, dry place, before replanting them come fall.
Caring for tulip
Tulip needs virtually no care at all because, once planted, it should bloom again come the following spring without any intervention.
Each tulip will actually multiply and you’ll have two, three or four new bulbs where you previously only had one!
It is possible to enhance and stimulate blooming further if you apply bulb plant fertilizer when the first tulip leaves sprout.
- Tulip-specific fertilizer can be used at planting and again during the growth phase.
Normally, when tulips sprout, rainfall covers water needs and extra watering isn’t needed.
Tulip after flowering
This period of time is often underestimated for tulips, because it is actually during the wilting of leaves that tulips stock up on reserves for the next season’s blooming.
Indeed, it is important to wait until they are completely wilted because that phase is when tulips gather nutrients for the following year.
- Wait until leaves and stems are clearly yellow before cutting them off, and do not cut if still green.
- If you remove leaves just after blooming, tulips probably won’t bloom in the following spring.
- You may nonetheless cut the wilted flower off to beautify the garden somewhat.
All there is to know about tulip
There are over 125 different species, and thousands of varieties to make for many combinations of color and shape.
You can imagine how many different garden compositions are possible!
Tulips are referred to as the queen of the bulb flowers and equally suit gardens, terraces and balconies.
- Tulips adapt perfectly to all temperate climates.
- The amazing range of store-available varieties lets one choose from many diverse shapes and colors, to match everyone’s favorite combination!
Smart tip about tulip
More quintessential garden flowers
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Red-yellow tulips shared by Gaertringen under © CC0 1.0
Sprouting tulip and red-pink tulip bed shared by Gaspard Lorthiois (own work)
Tulip bouquet shared by Canonpilot under © CC0 1.0