How To Prepare Tulip Bulbs

One of the most popular flower bulbs is the tulip. They are the center of attention in the spring garden because of their brilliant colors and graceful shapes. Discover tulip bulb preservation techniques to enjoy a second season of beauty.

How to Save Tulip Bulbs

While most tulips won’t rebloom if the bulbs are left in the ground, certain small tulips naturalize well, multiply, and bloom for several years. Digging them up and storing them over the summer is the best option if you want to keep them.

  • Dig the tulips up after the foliage has finished withering and dying back after flowering.
  • After removing the soil, let the bulbs dry. Throw away those that are broken.
  • The bulbs should be kept in paper bags or nets. Before transplanting them in the fall, label them and store them in a cold, dark spot.

How to Save Tulip Bulbs: Propagation

Tulips can be multiplied by propagation, increasing your stock. It’s possible that some of your tulip bulbs have sprung offsets or tiny new bulbs. Split these off from their parent bulbs, and then plant them in pots in a cold frame or in a protected area of the garden, at least 8″ deep. Make sure the soil is wet but not drenched. Be patient; they might bloom in the spring after that or they might need two seasons to mature before they bloom.

How to Save Tulip Bulbs Grown in Pots

Tulips cultivated in pots are less likely to blossom again because flower bulbs are more stressed when grown in pots and containers than when grown in the outdoors. It is preferable to throw them away once they have bloomed and plant new bulbs in the fall.

Are tulips a drug to you like they are to us? After learning how to preserve tulip bulbs, explore our assortment of tulips to find a wide variety of hues, forms, and exotic species for a stunning spring display.

Is it necessary to soak tulip bulbs before planting?

You now understand the fundamentals, but you could still have some queries. Here are some of the questions regarding planting bulbs for spring that I am asked the most.

How deep should you plant spring bulbs?

It’s a good idea to put spring bulbs 2-3 times deeper than their height as a general rule of thumb. For the best results, however, always read the package directions.

Should you soak spring bulbs before planting?

Before planting, there is no need to soak them. However, soaking them for 12 to 24 hours can hasten the roots process if you are running late planting them.

They will root more quickly if you add fish emulsion or liquid kelp to the water before soaking.

Why are bulbs planted in the fall?

To grow and blossom, spring-blooming bulbs require a period of cold hibernation. They won’t likely blossom in the spring if they aren’t planted in the fall.

Can you plant flower bulbs in the spring?

Although it is technically possible, I don’t advise planting cold-hardy flower bulbs in the spring. If they are planted in the spring, they won’t bloom.

Additionally, there’s a chance they won’t have enough time to save the energy they’ll need to endure the winter.

Bulb planting offers such a big payoff for spring blooming. Seeing the first few green shoots pop up from the earth is so amazing. And I bet you’ll be putting more and more spring bulbs in your garden every year now that you know how simple it is.

How are tulip bulbs prepared for the fall?

  • Don’t wait after you buy the bulbs to plant them because it was never designed for bulbs to linger above ground.
  • Plant bulbs in late November or December if you live in a southern region with a moderate winter. Prior to planting, the bulbs must be cooled in the refrigerator for about 12 weeks. (Bulb sellers frequently sell pre-chilled bulbs as well.)
  • Don’t wait until spring or the following fall if you forget to plant your bulbs when they should have been. Bulb types differ from seeds. Even if you discover a sack of tulips or daffodils that hasn’t been planted in January or February, plant them nevertheless and take a chance. Learn more about tulip planting in the winter.

Choosing and Preparing a Planting Site

  • Tulips appreciate a location with afternoon or full sun. Tulips like shade or only morning sun in Zones 7 and 8, as they don’t want to be overheated.
  • A well-draining, fertile, neutral to slightly acidic, dry, or sandy soil is required. All tulips detest locations that are very wet.
  • Strong winds should be protected from tall types.
  • Choose a planting location that is large enough to accommodate the spacing of 4 to 6 inches between bulbs.
  • Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches before adding a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost to the garden bed.

How to Plant Tulips

  • Plant bulbs at a depth. Approximately three times the height of the bulb, or 6 to 8 inches deep. To loosen the soil and allow for drainage, dig a hole that is deeper. Plant 3 to 6 inches deep in clay soils instead.
  • Place the bulb in the opening, pointed end upward. Put soil on top and firmly press it down.
  • After planting, water your bulbs. Bulbs need water to promote growth even if they can’t stand having their feet wet.
  • When you plant perennial tulips in the fall if you intend to raise them, give them a balanced fertilizer. All the nutrients needed for a year are contained in bulbs, which are their own full storage system. Utilize compost, organic matter, or a balanced time-release bulb food.
  • Put holly or any other thorny leaves in the planting holes to discourage mice and moles if they have been an issue. Some gardeners use crushed pebbles or cat litter. You might need to take more drastic steps, such growing bulbs in buried wire cages, if voracious voles and rodents are an actual problem.
  • If you’re planting your tulips later in the season, don’t give up; just remember these suggestions.

How to Grow Tulips

  • Do not water when it rains frequently. However, you should water the bulbs every week until the ground freezes if there is a dry spell and it does not rain.
  • Tulips are wiped out by damp soil, irrigation systems, and rainy summers. Never purposefully irrigate a bed of bulbs unless there is a drought. Bulbs can perish in wet soil because it breeds fungus and illness. To promote quick drainage, mix in sand, shredded pine bark, or any other coarse material into the soil.
  • Apply compost every year to supply the nutrients plants need to flourish in the future.
  • Feed your tulip with the same bulb food or bone meal you used when you first planted it in the spring when the leaves start to appear. Water wisely.
  • Tulips should be deadheaded as soon as they pass, but keep the leaves on.
  • After flowering, leave the leaves on the plants for around 6 weeks. The tulips’ foliage helps them store energy for their blooms the next year. It is possible to trim off the foliage once it has turned yellow and died back.
  • Small kinds typically reproduce and spread on their own, however large varieties may require replanting every few years.

Depending on the kind, tulip blossoms can be solitary, double, ruffled, fringed, or lily-shaped.

Wildor “Speciestulips” are tiny flowers with a height range of 3 to 8 inches. More resilient than hybrids, they. They look best when planted as a carpet of color and also bloom in the South. Lilac Wonder is a favorite of ours.

Triumph hybrids are the most common variety of tulip, being the single, cup-shaped tulip. Top selections:

  • The midspring blooming “Cracker tulip” has purple, pink, and lilac colored petals.
  • With its brilliantly crimson blossoms on stems up to 20 inches tall, ‘Ile de France’ blooms in the middle of the season.
  • ‘Calgary’ has snowy-white petals and blue-green foliage, and it blooms in the middle of spring.
  • Tulips are often grown as annuals, however the Darwin Hybrid varieties are said to behave more like perennials and bloom for several years.

Tulips come in so many lovely varieties. Look through catalogs and try some things in the garden!

  • Did you know? It’s likely not the same bulb you planted in the fall if you pull up a tulip bulb in the late summer. Her daughter is there. The bulb is dividing for the next generation even as the tulip blooms.
  • Cut tulip stems diagonally for the longest vase life, then wrap the top two-thirds of the flowers in a funnel of newspaper and place them in lukewarm water for a couple of hours. The tulips will then last for at least a week if the stems are recut.
  • A few bulbs of the new tulip were so in style and demand in 17th-century Holland that they were worth roughly $44,000.
  • Tulips in red are a symbol of love. See more explanations of flowers here.

When tulips have completed blooming, what do you do with them?

Once the blooms have faded, remove the seed heads to encourage your tulips to blossom once more the following year. After the foliage has naturally died down, dig up the bulbs around six weeks after they have bloomed. Any that are infected or damaged should be discarded after drying. Replant in them in the fall after keeping them in trays or nets in a dark, dry location over the summer.

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Please take note that the bouquet depicted is based on the product’s original design. Despite our best efforts, we occasionally have to utilize a different vase and replace stems in order to offer the freshest arrangement possible.


Depending on your climate, tulips may grow as an annual or a perennial. Eastern Turkey and the Himalayan foothills, which have a chilly winter and a scorching, dry summer, are the native home of tulips. You can plant tulip bulbs in the fall if you live in an area with the right environment. As soon as they are planted, they will start to take root, and they will continue gradually developing a root system during the long, chilly winter. Springtime warming causes plants to grow quickly, giving rise to stalks and eventually blooms.

Tulips as an Annual

If you don’t have the cold winter and hot summer that tulips need for perennial development, you can still enjoy tulips in your garden by creating these conditions artificially. While some gardeners choose to replace their old bulbs each year with new ones, others simply throw away their old bulbs and start again. Cut the flower off about three weeks after flowering if you do want to utilize your tulip bulbs year after year. Dig the bulbs out of the ground and preserve them for six to eight weeks. Before replanting, chill at 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit for eight to ten weeks. Six to eight weeks after planting, anticipate blossoms. You can store your bulbs to plant in the garden the following year if you have a bulb garden or forced bulbs, such as the gardens sold by ProFlowers.

Forcing Tulips

Like many other flower bulbs, tulips can be forced to grow indoors. A cooling time of 10 to 12 weeks is necessary before forcing. After planting bulbs in a light soil mix, store them somewhere cold and dark. Move them progressively to a little warmer and brighter location once they have a 2-inch shoot. Up till your tulips are resting in a bright window, keep doing this in little increments. Tulips may be enjoyed all year round thanks to forcing. The ProFlowers Pretty in Pink Bulb Garden is perfect if you don’t want to force your own bulbs or if you want to surprise someone with forced bulbs.

Cutting Tulips

Tulips should be cut when they are fully colored but unopened if you plant them as an annual or perennial in your cutting garden. After being sliced, tulips continue to develop and will bloom in the vase. You can enjoy your bouquet for as long as possible if you cut it now. Expect some tulips in a bouquet, such as the ProFlowers Purple Tulips or Holland Queen Tulips, to be fully open and others to be partially closed. To maintain the beauty of your arrangement, keep cut tulips out of direct sunlight.

What month should tulip bulbs be planted?

  • 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.

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.