When Should You Plant Tulips

  • 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.

How far in advance can you plant tulips?

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.

Tulip bulbs: may I plant them in the spring?

Tulip bulbs can still be planted in the early spring as soon as the ground is usable if they have survived the winter, have some weight to them, aren’t dry and crumbly, or aren’t soft and mushy. To avoid wasting your money, it is worth a shot to try nonetheless! However, there is a warning! They are far more likely to have weak blooms or possibly not bloom at all if they don’t have the opportunity to grow robust roots in the cooler temps.

Vernalization, a period of cooling that encourages a bulb to grow and bloom, is required for spring-planted tulip bulbs for at least 14 weeks. Therefore, you could not see flowers until the following year at the earliest, if at all, unless the temperature is still holding below 50F when you are planning to plant. For people in Zones 5 and lower, who frequently still have enough chill to survive if they get them in the ground quickly enough, this could be good news. However, in warmer climates, pushing them indoors or purchasing pre-chilled bulbs may be your best option.

It’s crucial to remember that while forced bulbs enhance indoor aesthetics, the energy reserves sometimes become depleted during the process of blooming indoors. It can take a few years before you see flowers, if any, if you try to put them outside for future flowering.

Your potted tulips won’t be ready to go into the ground after forcing; they must first be acclimated. Do this by exposing children to nature gradually. Start by leaving them outside in the shade for a short period of time each day. Then, gradually move them out into the sun while leaving them out for an increasing amount of time. When they are finally ready to spend an entire day in the sun, they can join the rest of your plants in the beds.

Which is better for tulip planting—spring or fall?

The tulip is the best flower to symbolize spring. However, every gardener is aware that preparation is necessary if you want to enjoy them. Fall planting of tulips prepares the ground for their stunning spring blossoms. This is due to the fact that they require a good 14 weeks of cooling at a temperature between 35 and 50 degrees in order to develop their lovely flowers, which is not helpful if you have your eye on the tulip bulbs that are on display at your local garden center. What can you then do? Can you nevertheless plant them?

If you get outside and plant the bulbs as soon as the earth is soft enough to dig, you might be able to get tulips to blossom in frigid climates. The tulip might just bloom if there are a few more weeks of frigid weather. If not, you can store them in the fridge for however long you need to, then plant them later in the spring for later blooming.

What About Replanting Blooming Tulips?

You can still plant those outside, but you’ll need to exercise caution. For starters, tulips grown in pots frequently belong to a purposely selected variety that is more annual-like than perennial. Don’t be surprised if it doesn’t grow back the next year if you put it outside.

You’ll need to adapt the plant to the outside if you decide to plant your potted tulip nonetheless. To do this, first set the tulip in a shaded area. Move the tulip to a more sunny location a little bit each day or two until it is getting pure sunlight. After that, create a hole the same size as the pot the tulip is in. Cut the pot from the dirt if you can, then plant the tulip in the hole with the soil still on it. When you remove the plant from the pot, try to avoid disturbing the roots as much as you can if you can’t cut the pot free from the root ball. After planting, give the tulip plenty of water and then treat it like any other tulip.

What About Planting Tulips in Hot Climates?

The ground may not drop below 50 degrees for the 14 weeks that tulips need to blossom in USDA hardiness Zones 7 through 10. However, you need not worry—there are a few ways to avoid the tulip laws.

The bulbs must be dug up each fall if you wish to cultivate classic tulips so that they can be chilled in the refrigerator before planting. Your tulips can also be kept in a somewhat shaded area, where the ground is a little bit cooler.

If it doesn’t work, look into tulips that have been modified and enhanced to thrive in hotter climes. In Zones 7 and 8, wild tulips, which are smaller than conventional tulips, as well as Darwin Hybrids, which were specifically designed to endure warmer temperatures, flourish. No matter which type you pick, you will almost probably need to refrigerate tulip bulbs each year in Zones 9 and 10 to achieve fresh blooms.

Do tulips reappear each year?

Daffodils are dependable “repeaters,” perennials that come back year after year with bigger and more blooms, as many gardeners are aware.

Tulips, though, are a little different. Despite its breathtaking beauty, the tulip is one of the simplest flowers to grow effectively in a garden. Even a novice gardener can anticipate seeing a lovely flower in the spring if they plant a bulb in the fall. The challenge is getting a tulip to perform well in its second or third year.

According to horticultural textbooks, the tulip is a perennial flower. This indicates that tulips should be anticipated to blossom and return each year. But practically speaking, this isn’t always the case. The majority of tulip enthusiasts are happy to treat them as annuals and replant them every fall.

But why don’t tulips usually behave like perennials if they are? This difficult horticultural conundrum has a surprisingly straightforward solution.

Tulips can I plant in February?

You can start planting right into the ground if your area has mild winters and the soil is still quite workable. On the other hand, if you live somewhere where the earth is frozen or the temperature is extremely cold and wet, you can grow plants in pots and containers. These can be kept inside, possibly with the help of grow lamps that mimic the sun.

A quick word regarding grow lights: keep in mind that each plant is unique and needs a distinct amount of intensity. Pay attention to the light intensity and the sort of plants you are trying to develop.

So what should you sow in February to create a lovely garden? Here are a few ideas:

Lilies: What beautiful flowers! Without the graceful lily, no garden would be complete. Instead of seeds, true lilies grow from bulbs. Each day, they need six to eight hours of direct sunlight. Lilies that are grown in the shadow have a tendency to bend toward the sun and frequently topple over. A liquid fertilizer with a high potassium content must be used to feed them. Other lily variations include the particularly lovely calla and canna lilies. A word of warning: Lilies are safe for dogs but deadly for cats. Therefore, please take care to avoid endangering your cat by planting lilies. maybe go with one of our other suggestions.

Petunias: There are two varieties of petunias: the Multiflora, which have smaller blooms and truly stand out as ground cover in your garden, and the Grandiflora, which have huge blossoms. Even though petunias are perennial plants, they are typically grown as annuals. They occasionally bloom in the winter if you live somewhere with warm winters. Nature surprised us with it. If you reside in a colder climate, you can plant them in pots indoors in February. Both dogs and cats can safely consume these flowers.

Tulips: If you opt to plant them in February, you’ll need to create the illusion of a winter chill because they do best in colder locations. The tulip bulbs should be stored in a paper bag in the crisper before being planted. Keep in mind that the fumes from your produce might damage and ruin the bulbs, so avoid storing them next to your fruits and vegetables. The dirt can then be placed in planting pots with standard potting soil, covered with plastic to prevent evaporation. After that, put the plant back inside your fridge. Once it starts to sprout, uncover it, give it frequent waterings, and chill it for three months in the refrigerator (or another cool area, or an unheated cellar) before moving it to the sun or outside. One of the more difficult bulbs to grow in milder areas, tulips are nonetheless lovely once you have them.

4. Daisies: Gerbera daisies are cheerful and enjoy warm weather. Additionally, they are the ideal plant to begin growing indoors in those lovely containers. The ideal way to grow them is from seed; they need to be wet but never allowed to stand in water. The flowers are available in pink, white, red, and yellow. They are very lovely inside.

5. The lucky bamboo plant is a lovely plant for beginners and is elegant in its simplicity. Its beautiful symbolism is impossible to ignore. View these educational films about raising bamboo from seeds (Part 1 and Part 2). The remainder of the year will be prosperous if you plant it in February!

*Note: Because many of our readers reside in regions of the country with varying weather patterns, we concentrated on providing options for simulating the weather so that, no matter where you live, you can plant in February and still have a lovely spring or summer garden.