How To Feed Tulips

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.

What is the ideal tulip fertilizer?

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.

Need plant food for tulips?

For vases to last the longest:

  • Purchase tulips that have flower heads that are just opening. The bud should be slightly closed yet still clearly show the color of the flower. Purchases of green buds are not advised.
  • Condition your tulips by re-cutting the base of the stem with a clean, sharp knife before arranging them. The water uptake channels of the flower will be widened as a result, keeping them fresh and preventing wilting or shock.
  • Tulips do not require cut flower food, but they are quite thirsty. For the longest vase life, regularly check the water level in the vase and replace the water. As the level falls, at the very least, top off the water. Never allow the stems at the bottom of your tulips to dry out.
  • Tulips should be kept in a cool area. Even an ice cube can be placed in the water to help lower the temperature. (Eventually, the ice cube will melt. This is also possible with tulips growing in containers. Inside, it will prolong their bloom time.)
  • The heat from radiators, direct sunshine, lamps, television sets, and other devices should be kept away from your cut tulips.

Can I grow tulips with Miracle Grow?

Add Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Flowers to the soil to prepare it. Tulips should be planted 8 inches deep, pointy end up. As planting tulips, give them plenty of water. Then, give them more water in the spring when they start to grow. When the roses flower, feed them Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed Rose & Bloom Plant Food.

Do I need to feed my tulips in pots?

One of the joys of spring is the splendor of the tulip. The good news is that they are incredibly simple to grow; simply plant a few bulbs, and you will almost certainly have gorgeous flowers a few months later. But it’s important to keep in mind that these blooms are native to a warmer region: the Eastern Mediterranean. After a chilly, rainy North European winter, they require a little respect to perform at their best.

Don’t plant them too early, first and foremost. Plant the bulbs in late autumn, or any time up until midwinter, and keep them in a cool, airy location. This stops early growth from being vulnerable to disease and cold damage, especially “tulip fire,” which results in leaf loss and papery, shriveled flower buds.

Second, make sure to bury them deeply. They must be buried three to four times as deep below the surface, whether they are being planted in the ground or in containers. Short stems and stunted growth are the results of shallow planting.

You can reuse some of the growing material you used for your summer bedding plants when you are planting in pots. Remove any root debris and sprinkle a little amount of Vitax Q4 fertilizer on top. Although the bulbs have their own food supply, Vitax Q4’s nutrients and vital trace elements will help them develop stronger. When the shoots first sprout, the potash in the fertilizer helps them be winter-hardy. Mix a tiny quantity of Vitax Q4 into the soil at the bottom of the planting hole in the open ground.

The bulbs should be placed a few centimeters apart. Even though it sounds near, planting like this in a group will produce a spectacular display. It also implies that when growing in a pot, you can pack a lot of bulbs in a small area. The finest results come from planting groups of at least five or seven bulbs in beds and borders.

Backfill the area with soil where it is open. Add fresh compost to a pot to fill it up. The optimal blend is equal parts Vitax Multi-Purpose Compost and John Innes No. 3.

By placing the pots against the house wall over the winter, potted tulips can be shielded from the worst of the cold and moisture. Here, the eaves will provide protection, preventing soggy compost from rain and providing some warmth from the walls.

Once the stems appear and the leaves spread out, it is crucial to monitor watering. When the bulbs are about to bloom, keep the soil moist and keep an eye out. Short-lived blooms are the result of dry soil or compost. The length of a flower’s life depends on the variety and the climate, but the best tulips can bloom for at least three weeks provided the temperature is not too high and the soil is sufficiently moist.

Tulip leaves decomposes rather quickly whether it is grown in pots or outdoors. The most durable single-flowered tulips, including Darwin hybrids, Triumph, and If not disturbed and grown in well-drained soil, lily flowering tulips frequently return year after year. Make sure to mark where they are. As the blossoms start to fade, apply Vitax Q4 fertilizer to help build the bulbs for the following season.

After flowering, tulips in pots can be moved to the open ground. For the best presentation, it is generally ideal to start with new bulbs because they rarely perform well in pots for a second season.

When do I feed my tulips?

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.