How To Plant Tulip Bulbs In Minnesota

Use our step-by-step planting instructions to grow the best bulbs.

1. Make the soil ready. The soil should be free-draining and loose. Take out all the weeds, rocks, and other clutter. For the greatest results, combine organic material with a particular bulb fertilizer, such as compost or peat moss. To stop animals from digging up the bulb, think about placing an animal repellant both in the hole and on top of the buried bulb.

2. Create a hole. In general, while planting bulbs, dig a hole that is three times as deep as the bulb’s height. Too-deep planting of the bulbs may cause them to blossom later (or no blooms at all). The bulbs are exposed to too much frost and cold weather when they are planted too shallowly.

3. Set the lightbulb.

Make sure the bulb is facing up before covering it with soil. The soil should be lightly packed, not packed.

Four. Water it. Make sure to water the bulb often after planting it to encourage root development.

When can Minnesotans plant tulip bulbs?

Prior to buying bulbs:

  • Look for any sickness or damage indications, such as wounds or bruises.
  • The bulb should be solid and covered in a papery layer of protection.
  • Avoid purchasing soft or moldy bulbs.

Hardy bulbs should be purchased in August or September, then planted as soon as possible.

  • In cold-weather regions like Minnesota, planting season typically lasts from mid-September until mid-October.
  • By planting now, you can give the bulb time to establish roots before the ground freezes.
  • One exception is tulips, which you can plant as late as you can get them into the ground.
  • Until you’re ready to plant them, keep bulbs in a dry spot out of the sun.
  • In the early spring, they can be started inside.
  • They can be planted outside in the spring when the risk of frost has passed.

Ideal warmth

Warmth and bright light are essential for the optimum growth of both hardy and fragile bulbs.

  • Pick areas that are protected from strong winds.
  • Planting should be avoided in low lying regions where frost tends to accumulate. When tender plants are first emerging from the soil, they could suffer injury.
  • Later in the flowering process, light to moderate frosts often have no impact on plants.

Keep in mind that the soil next to building foundations, particularly if it faces south or west, may warm up quicker than other parts of your yard, causing bulbs planted there to bloom early.

These early bloomers may be harmed by the cold. Mulch the soil in certain locations to aid in a more gradual soil warming. This will enable bulbs to blossom when it is most advantageous for blooms and foliage to be protected from cold damage.


For growth in the spring and even after the flowering process is finished, bulbs require enough of light. Following flowering, the leaves use photosynthesis to produce energy that is stored in the bulb structure for the following year.

The more illumination bulbs receive, the more energy they produce, and the more likely it is that they will continue to blossom.

You can plant hardy bulbs below or close to deciduous trees and plants. By the time the leaves on deciduous trees are deep enough to create shade, the hardy bulbs have finished blooming.

Rich, draining soil produces the best-looking bulbs. When determining what “amendments” or additions are required to improve your soil before planting, a soil test is helpful. Every three to five years, send a soil sample to the University of Minnesota Soil Test Laboratory.

  • Planting shouldn’t be done near standing water.
  • Clear away rubbish from planting areas, such as rocks, sticks, tangled roots, etc.
  • To incorporate organic material, such as peat moss, fine compost, or leaf mulch, into the planting area, use a garden fork or a tiller.

Bulbs can grow well in the improved soil thanks to the organic material.

Phosphorus, a crucial macronutrient for flowering, is abundant in the majority of Minnesotan soils. When planting bulbs, omit the fertilizer and instead apply compost unless your soil test reveals a phosphorus or potassium deficiency.

If bulbs are planted in bulk plantings or groups with odd numbers, they will seem much more beautiful.

The individual bulb determines the planting depth and distance. Observe the directions on the bulb package.

Typically, bulbs should be planted two to three times deeply than they are wide. Depending on the soil type, this will change.

  • Plant bulbs an inch or two deeper in light, sandy soils and slightly shallower in heavy clay soils.
  • Set the bulb in the prepared soil with the pointed end facing up so that the base rests at the proper depth.
  • After all of the bulbs have been set, cover the area with half of the dirt and thoroughly water it.
  • To level the bed’s surface, add the leftover soil and rake it evenly.
  • The soil surface should be watered and covered with 2-3″ of leaf mulch, wood mulch, or clean (seedless) straw to assist retain moisture and promote more gradual seasonal changes in soil temperatures.

Additional tips for hardy bulbs:

  • If spring or fall are dry and there is less rain than usual, water bulbs until the soil is soaked (wet throughout).
  • After being planted, bulbs, especially tulips, may be dug up and eaten by animals like squirrels and chipmunks (narcissus bulbs are poisonous). After planting, cover the bulb plantings with a piece of chicken wire and secure it with the same U-shaped staples that are used for landscaping fabric. Mulch the wire and encircle it. The wire will make it challenging to dig up the bulbs, and the bulbs will readily pass through the wire holes as they grow.
  • To avoid accidentally digging up bulbs during your spring garden labor, be sure to name what you planted and where.

In how many holes should you sow tulip bulbs?

When planting tulip bulbs, it is advisable to avoid crowding the holes you dig with more than one bulb per hole. The bulbs should ideally be placed 4 to 6 inches apart, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, so it’s critical to choose a location with lots of space. Additionally, you should plant your tulip bulbs deeply—at least 8 inches deep. For best results, measure from the bulb’s base.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to loosen the soil 12 to 15 inches deep with a garden fork or tiller before planting, keeping in mind the appropriate depth at which to place the tulip bulbs. Tulip bulbs should always be planted with the tip side facing upward. Larger bulbs will therefore require larger holes. Plant them, then cover them with earth, pressing down afterward. After planting, water right away to encourage development.

Which month is best for planting tulip bulbs?

  • Use chicken wire to cover planting holes, a fence, repellant spray, or container gardening to keep animals away.

Is there anything happier than a large tulip field blooming in the spring? The profusion of vibrant blossoms is a sight for sore eyes after a protracted winter of cold and snow. You may build and enjoy a robust tulip show in your own yard with these tactics and pointers.

How to Choose Tulips

Hybrid tulips make up the majority of the tulips you see in landscape plantings, as well as those offered for sale at garden centers and home improvement shops. For the greatest impact, hybrid tulips normally need to be replaced every year. (We’ll cover how to persuade them to return below.) When given the proper growing circumstances, species tulips will return year after year in zones 4 to 7. These have smaller flowers and pointier petals than hybrid tulips, and they are shorter.

Individual tulips don’t flower for very long, especially the hybrids. However, there are types that bloom in the early, mid, and late seasons at various periods. When buying, choose a couple cultivars from each bloom time category for a long-lasting display.

Where to Plant Tulips

For the best show, tulips need full sun, which entails at least six hours every day of bright, direct sunlight. They are also great additions to rock gardens since they favor quick-draining soil.

When to Plant Tulips

Fall is the best time to plant tulip bulbs. Prior to planting, the soil must have cooled from the summer growing season, which could occur in September in cold regions (zones 3 to 5), October in transitional temperatures (zones 6 to 7), and November or December in warm areas (zones 8 to 9). Use a soil thermometer to measure the soil’s temperature, and plant when it reaches 60 degrees F at a depth of 6 inches.

For tulips to bloom, they need to be chilled. Buy pre-cooled bulbs and plant them in December if you intend to grow tulips where the soil temperature won’t fall below 60 degrees for at least 12 weeks.

How to Prepare the Soil for Planting Tulips

Use Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Flowers to prepare the planting space for tulips by incorporating 3 inches of garden soil into the top 6 to 8 inches of native soil. Tulips will develop a strong root system in the fall thanks to the nutrients provided by the soil, which is necessary for a significant spring bloom. However, to get the best results from your tulips, you must combine the strength of excellent soil with just the appropriate plant food. For details on what and when to feed tulips, see “How to Feed Tulips” below.

How to Plant Tulips

Tulips should be planted in bunches of 10 or more for the best display. The pointed end should be facing up as you plant each bulb 8 inches deep (measure from the bottom of the bulb and add the depth of any mulch on top of the soil in your measurement). It is possible to place bulbs close to one another. Thoroughly water.

How to Grow Tulips in a Pot

In pots, tulips are simple to grow. The bulbs should be buried at least 8 inches deep, much like with in-ground plantings, so measure from the top of the container to a depth of about 9 inches, then fill the pot up to that point with Miracle-Gro Potting Mix. Put the pointy end of the bulbs in the pot (you can pack them tightly together). After thoroughly watering, cover with the potting mix. Move the container to a cool, dry spot that stays at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter before the first frost in your area. Bring the container outside to a sunny area when you notice tulips budding. Water the soil there. Once you notice green growth, start watering often.

How to Water Tulips

When you plant tulips, make sure to thoroughly water each planting space. After planting, give the plants one watering each week for the first month. Then, leave them alone until spring. When the leaves come out in the spring, start watering once more.

How to Feed Tulips

Apply Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed Rose & Bloom Plant Food in accordance with the instructions on the package once the flowers have faded. In order for the bulb to conserve nutrients for the following growing season, this will aid in promoting leaf growth. Every year in the late fall, feed for the final time (around the same time as you would plant new bulbs).

How to Cut Tulips to Enjoy Indoors

When the buds are still tightly closed, cut tulips. You should be able to identify the hue of the blooms despite the petals’ possible greenish tint. Put inside a spotless vase with room temperature water. Once cut and brought indoors, tulips will continue to “grow” (the stems extend). Simply trim a few inches from the bottom of the stems every few days if they start to get unruly. If you mix Miracle-Gro for Fresh Cut Flowers into the water and replace the water every few days, cut tulips will stay longer (compared to water only).

What to Do After Tulips Bloom

The best tulip flower display will typically occur in gardens in the spring that immediately follows the fall when the bulbs are planted. Once the petals have faded, trim the flower stalk back to the plant’s base to encourage species tulips to return year after year. After the bulbs have gone dormant, cease feeding them as previously mentioned, stop watering them, and trim back the foliage once it has completely turned brown. Simply pluck up the bulbs from hybrid varieties (which are not perennial) and compost them.

How to Protect Tulips from Deer and Other Pests

Preventing deer from eating tulip blooms is the biggest obstacle in tulip gardening, closely followed by preventing chipmunks and squirrels from digging up the bulbs. Planting holes or trenches should have chicken wire surrounding them on all sides to prevent bulbs from being dug up. (If you’re planting large sweeps of bulbs, which is how to get the best show from tulips, this is most useful.)

Deer are another matter. Installing a long (8 feet or more) fence is the greatest approach to keep deer out of the garden, but most people cannot afford to do this. Daffodil and Crown Imperial bulbs are not consumed by deer, so interplanting tulips with these varieties may help deter them. Alternatively, you may try misting a deer repellent on bulb foliage. In light of this, it is preferable to grow tulips in pots on a screened-in porch if deer are a significant issue where you live. This way, the deer can’t access to the flowers.

Ready to start tulip gardening? To learn more about a product, to buy it online, or to locate a retailer near you, click on any of the product links above.

Tulip bulbs can be left in the ground all year.

In the hardy U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8, tulip bulbs can be left in the ground to grow as perennials. They only reproduce when permitted to go through a full leaf cycle and spend the entire year underground. Although they may not fare well in summer in hotter locations, planting them approximately 12 inches deep will protect them from the heat. However, they might spread more slowly at that depth.

How late can tulip bulbs be planted?

The best time to plant tulips was a question we posed to Ruth Hayes, the gardening editor of Amateur Gardening. Ruth has a plethora of knowledge thanks to her Royal Horticultural Society certification and many years of gardening experience.

She explains that the best months to grow tulips are in late fall and early winter, specifically November and December. It is too late for them to perform at their peak this year, but they should flower the following spring, so if you have any leftover from last year, you may still plant them in the soil now.

It’s not necessary too late to plant spring bulbs in January, according to Evie Lane, a gardening expert at Primrose (opens in new tab), but she emphasizes that time is of the essence. Tulips can tolerate a January planting with ease, although they will bloom later than usual, she claims.

Evie explains that tulip bulbs should generally be safely placed in the ground as least six weeks before there is a chance of a freeze. But most plants show a great tolerance for being planted in the late season. There is a strong probability that your bulbs will produce passable flowers in the late spring as long as the earth can be dug and is not soggy.

Ruth adds there are still many of chances in the upcoming months to add color to our garden later this year if you’d prefer not take a chance. Consider which plants you’d like to add to your garden, and if you’re stuck for inspiration, check out the newest garden trends for 2022.

If you’re lacking motivation, try to complete a handful of January gardening tasks each week. It’s less intimidating to walk outside and clean up the garden once you know what you’re going to be doing.