How To Feed Tulip Bulbs

What time of year should I fertilize my tulip and daffodil bulbs for the finest spring bloom display?

A. Tulips and daffodils need to be taken care of twice for the best spring blooms: once in the fall during planting time, and once in the spring.

Gardeners can improve the soil at both of these times by adding a few inches of organic compost as well as synthetic fertilizer.

Top-dress the bed with a balanced, 10-10-10 or 10-15-10 slow-release fertilizer after the fall bulb planting. To evenly distribute the fertilizer, lightly till the soil or thoroughly water it in. To prevent burning the bulbs, fertilizer should be applied to the top of the soil rather than the planting hole.

Apply the same fertilizer in the spring when fresh green shoots start to appear. Perennial bulbs should still be fertilized twice a year during these times, with no more than two pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet of planting space applied each time (or follow exact label directions). Although established bulbs are dormant throughout the summer, they will begin to grow new roots in the fall, utilizing the fertilizer that is available.

One method to encourage bulbs to produce and store food for their spring flower display is fertilizer, but there are others as well. This spring, gardeners should keep in mind to leave leaves and stems attached to bulbs until they have lost their green hue.

They are producing carbohydrates as long as they are still green, which the bulbs will store and use as fuel for growth the next year.

Which fertilizer is ideal for tulip gardens?

Contrary to popular belief, tulip fertilizer does not need to be inserted into the hole when tulip bulbs are planted. This may hurt the tulip bulbs’ freshly growing roots and cause them to “burn” when they come into contact with the concentrated fertilizer that has been applied below them.

Instead, always apply fertilizer to the soil’s surface. As a result of the fertilizer filtering to the roots and not burning them, the concentration of tulip fertilizer will be reduced.

The ideal fertilizer for tulip bulbs will have a 9-9-6 nutrient ratio. A slow release fertilizer should also be used while fertilizing tulips. This will guarantee that nutrients are continuously supplied to the roots of the tulip bulb. A fertilizer for tulip bulbs with a quick release could cause the nutrients to be leached away before the tulip bulbs have a chance to absorb them.

If you want to fertilize tulip bulbs organically, you can combine equal portions of blood meal, greensand, and bone meal. However, you should be warned that utilizing this organic tulip fertilizer can entice some wild animals to the region.

Tulips will survive the winter better and come back year after year if you take the effort to fertilize them. Your efforts to give your tulips a boost won’t go to waste if you know the right procedures for fertilizing tulip bulbs and when to fertilize tulips.

Is Miracle Grow safe to use on tulip bulbs?

It might be challenging to determine which pots and containers to use because they come in so many different hues, forms, and sizes. Make sure that the bulb containers are at least 16 inches across for outstanding color if you intend to place them on your patio or deck. Containers put elsewhere should have a minimum width of 8 inches.

Deciding How Deep

Your choice of bulb size and kind will determine how deep you want your containers to be. There should be enough space in your container for root systems to expand. As you would in the ground, you should plant your bulbs in your container deeply. Find out which bulbs have deeper roots and what size containers to use at your local garden center.

Choosing Materials

Be sure to consider the weather when selecting your containers. Terra-cotta containers can be harmed by frost, although plastic containers are typically unaffected. Remember to select containers with drainage holes as well.

Planting the Bulbs

Bulb planting season is in the fall. To begin, cover your container with a coating of Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix. Place a layer of larger bulbs, such as tulips or daffodils, after that. Add another layer of potting soil above them. A layer of smaller bulbs, such as crocuses, can then be added. Leave a 1-inch space at the top of the pot before adding a second layer of potting mix. For the winter, put your bulbs in a chilly location, such as a porch, patio, garage, or shed.

Watering Your Bulbs

After planting the bulbs, give them plenty of water. After that, check the soil’s moisture level about once a week. To prevent bulb rot, keep the soil moist but not soggy. Your bulbs will begin to emerge in a few months when the weather warms up, and soon you’ll have lovely blooms in your containers with little work required.

Should tulip bulbs be fed?

Mix three parts multipurpose compost to one part grit to make potting compost. Next, fill your container such that this length is the space between the compost at the bottom and the top edge of the rim. This height is the height of two or three bulbs put end to end. Place the bulbs on top of the compost when it is well leveled, leaving about a finger’s width between each bulb. The remaining compost mixture should be spread over the bulbs, leaving the soil about 2.5 cm (1 in) below the rim. When they start to grow and flower, you may always move them into their final location after giving them adequate watering.

Use three parts loam-based compost, such as Melcourt SylvaGrow with additional John Innes, mixed with one part grit to preserve the tulips in their pots for more than one season. See the RHS guide for additional details on growing bulbs in containers.

Make a “bulb lasagna” by placing two or three layers of bulbs in one pot for a bigger container show.

Planting specialist tulips in containers

Fill containers with a mixture of one part grit and two parts loam-based compost, such as Melcourt SylvaGrow with additional John Innes. Directly beneath the bulbs, a coating of angular sand will aid in drainage and stop bulbs from decaying. To avoid soil splashing flowers and weeds developing, top-dress the pot with grit after covering the bulbs.

Containers outdoors

Before bulbs emerge, if the compost appears damp during rainy weather, relocate the plants temporarily to a protected area next to a fence or house wall or place them in an unheated greenhouse. They can be placed back where they were after the compost has slightly dried. Keep your tulips well-watered if dry weather comes while they are growing (beginning in February or until the leaves show). Poor growth or a shorter flowering time can result from a water scarcity.

In Borders

If there is enough rain to keep the ground moist, tulips in beds and borders typically don’t need watering. Only use water during extended dry spells (greater than two to three weeks), with the goal of keeping the ground moist rather than soggy.


Feeding encourages development and flowering while restoring nutrients to the bulb when combined with watering. This promotes healthy flowering of tulips the next year. Feed plants after they begin to grow (about March), using a potassium-rich liquid fertilizer like tomato feed. Once the leaves start to yellow and die back, feeding can be discontinued. There is no need to feed bulbs if you are growing tulips for bedding and discarding the bulbs once they have done flowering.


Tulips can produce seedheads after flowering. Deadheading is the removal of these by severing the stalk immediately above the leaves. You might want to wait until the seedheads are fully matured if you’re planting specialty tulips because some of them can be grown from seed. For information on how to cultivate tulips from seed, see Propagation below.

Encouraging reflowering

When left in the ground, border tulips frequently do not bloom in their second year. They are frequently viewed as seasonal d├ęcor (bedding) and removed after flowering because of this. This may seem wasteful, but autumn is a great time to buy bulbs since they are readily accessible, relatively priced, and they produce a more consistent floral display. Some tulips, such as the Darwin hybrids and Kaufmanniana varieties, are worth leaving in the ground since they are more likely to reflower. See our list here for varieties that are more likely to reflower.

Tulip bulbs can be lifted, dried, and stored over the summer to encourage reflowering. This mimics the natural environment where tulips rest throughout the warm, dry summers.

  • When the foliage turns yellow, remove bulbs (about six weeks after flowering)
  • Place the entire plant or bulb in trays until the leaves become straw-colored if you need to lift early.
  • Bulb dirt should be removed, and any that exhibit damage or sickness (such as blue/white mold or mushy flesh when pressed with the thumb) should be thrown away.
  • Allow bulbs to completely dry (the brown skin becomes papery)
  • In trays or net/paper bags, keep bulbs in a warm, dark, well-ventilated location between 18 and 20 C. (65-68F)
  • Replanting bulbs in the fall (September to November)

Replant saved bulbs in less significant beds, borders, and containers because reflowering isn’t always possible, and acquire new ones for more significant or noticeable spots (e.g. by the front door). It’s also a good idea to select the biggest bulbs for prominent spots to guarantee a better display.

Specialty tulips, such as alpine varieties, can be left undisturbed in their containers or the ground, where they frequently expand in quantity on their own.

No trimming or training is required for tulips. Simply cut off the straw-colored wilted stems and foliage in the summer. Typically, stems can be simply removed without needing to be cut.

The purpose of propagation is typically to increase specialized tulips. Border tulips are typically not propagated because it is easy to get affordable, flowering-size bulbs for purchase. However, either can be used with these techniques. You can expand your tulip bulbs in two different ways:

By offsets, we mean young bulbs that grow organically around the main one. When lifting plants, they can be detached and dried preserved over the summer. In the fall, replant offsets at least 20 cm (8 in) deep. It could take three to four years for little offsets to reach flowering size.

By seed: Because Border varieties of tulips don’t typically generate seed, try this method with smaller Specialist tulips. In trays or pots of loam-based compost, such as Melcourt SylvaGrow with additional John Innes, sow papery seed that was harvested this year. Put a thin layer of sieved compost over the seed before finishing with a 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) layer of horticultural grit. Leave the container outside since seeds need to be chilled to germinate. Springtime brings forth seedlings, which normally take three to four years to mature into flowering plants.

In gardens, species tulips like Tulipa sprengeri self-seed under the right circumstances. Additionally, Tulipa sylvestris will grow via stolons (underground stems).

Pests and illnesses can sometimes affect tulips, especially when they are grown in the same soil for an extended period of time. Their health could also be impacted by the conditions of growth.

  • Feed plants with tomato fertilizer while they are growing if they don’t blossom. Increased nutrient return to the bulb aids in bloom formation for the next year. Reflowering of border tulips is challenging on moister soils that don’t dry out in the summer.
  • Shallow planting results in many tiny bulbs not blooming. Bulbs should be replanted at least three times as deep.
  • short-stemmed tulips possibly as a result of late planting or mild winters
  • Bulb-digging grey squirrels are common. Use chicken wire to cover bulbs in containers. Plant bulbs in the ground in chicken wire-covered aquatic baskets. Once leaves appear, the wire can be removed.

When planting tulip bulbs, should I fertilize them?

Easter and Mother’s Day come to mind when I think about tulips. A pot of tulips is a popular Easter gift. Tulips are a flower that is associated with Mother’s Day in my area. Being a Dutch settlement, Albany, New York, holds a tulip festival every year to honor the blossom. By the state capital, Washington Park and other streets are lined with thousands of tulips. Tulips appear all over for about two weeks, signaling the beginning of Spring.

the planting of tulips

Tulip planting on your own property is different from putting them in elaborate displays in public parks and along city streets. After blooming, all or almost all of the tulips described above that were planted in Albany’s Washington Park are pulled up and sold. The plant’s development and how the initially rich green foliage finally turns paper bag brown are never fully shown to you.

It would be best if you planted little clusters of three tulips here, three tulips there, all across your garden. When other perennials swell up around them and they have finished blooming and begin to look ugly, they won’t stand out as much.

When tulips are planted in the Fall, they require 12 weeks of subfreezing temperatures in order to flower the following Spring. There are kinds that bloom early, midseason, and late. If you want to spread out your tulip flowering show, plant a few of each variety. Invest on big, solid, meaty bulbs.

Plant the tulip bulbs pointed side up with 3 to 5 inches of soil on top in a location where they receive about 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. If you plan to leave them in the ground from year to year, place them about 8 inches apart in all directions. According to legend, the Darwin Tulip is a hardy type that blooms for several years.

Providing tulip fertilizer

When tulips are planted, fertilizer is NOT necessary. Most likely, the tulip bulbs were prevented from blooming the Spring before they were prepared for export. They had their heads removed. Their entire focus was on creating a large, healthy bulb that you could purchase rather than on flower output.

Never put bone meal in the hole where you are planting tulips along with the bulb. Animals like moles, voles, mice, and squirrels will attack the bulbs and eat them as soon as they scent the bone meal. I know someone who used bone meal to sow 300 tulip bulbs. The first tulip appeared the next Spring.

Tulips should be fertilized in the fall, according to some, but I prefer the spring. From the point where the tulip emerges from the ground, spread a tablespoon or two of an excellent All Purpose Time Release fertilizer, such as Pennington 6-10-6, Jonathan Green 5-10-5, or Espoma Plant-Tone 5-3-3, out 2 to 3 inches all around. The fertilizer will nourish your plant for several weeks if it has a time release. Before they blossom, fertilize them as soon as you notice them poking up from the ground. Since you can see where they are developing, I believe you should fertilize them in the spring. How would you know where they are if there was no greenery to be seen in the fall?

Taking Care of Tulips

Tulips receive two types of nutrition. They take in moisture and nutrients from the soil, as well as sunlight (photosynthesis). A tulip bulb that you purchase contains sufficient energy to develop foliage and blossoms the following Spring after planting. The energy leaves the bulb and travels up the plant to develop the leaves and flower as the tulip begins to emerge from the soil in the spring. In order for the tulip to live another Spring and grow additional foliage and blossoms, the energy eventually needs to return to the bulb. The leaves must be given space to saturate with light, turn a paper-bag brown over time, then wither away. You can tell that the energy has returned to the bulb because of the change in leaf color from deep green to paper bag brown. With a little tug, the foliage will begin to break away from the bulb once it has gone paper bag brown. At that point, you can stop it as well.

Many tulips cease blooming after a year or two in the ground and just turn into a mass of leaves. The mother tulip has several “Bulblets baby bulbs” surrounding her; as a result, she is crowded and stops flowering. When you notice that this has occurred in the spring, dig out the mother and baby, separate them all, take care not to harm the foliage, and then transplant the bulbs all over your garden. Be sure to bury them deeply. Any of the white underground stem that protrudes above ground should be covered. Hopefully you will have flowering tulips once more in a year or two.

To remove the spent (wilted) flower stem after your tulips have blossomed, snip it off. Just let the leaves develop. If you receive a potted tulip for Easter or Mother’s Day, trim the flower stalk after it has finished flowering, remove the tulips from the pot, and separate the bulbs. Plant the untouched foliage in your garden. I’m hoping you’ll have tulips for Mother’s Day next year.

Consequently, tell me if you planted tulips last fall; did they grow? What kind of tulips do you have if they’ve blossomed for two years?