Do you love a spring flower garden full of color? Learn how to grow tulips from bulbs for a beautiful and colorful addition to your spring garden.
Tulips are one of the most popular flowers in the world and they’re not difficult to grow. They come in all sorts of colors and sizes. You can fill your house border with them, naturalize them in your yard, or plant a whole bed full for a huge array of coloring the spring.
With a little planning, you can have a beautiful crop of tulips in your garden or yard in no time. Here’s what you need to know about growing tulips from bulbs.
How to Grow Tulips from Bulbs: Step By Step
Tulips are the most iconic springtime flower, but you don’t actually plant tulip bulbs in the spring! Keep reading to learn when and how to grow tulips from bulbs.
When to Plant Tulip Bulbs
Growing tulips from bulbs starts in the fall before you want them to bloom.This is the key to ensuring your tulips flower in all their beauty during spring.
Tulip bulbs should be planted 6-8 weeks before your expected first frost.
Planting the fall is important because the bulbs need a long period of cool temperatures to start the biochemical process that causes them to flower.
They also need plenty of time before the ground freezes to develop strong roots.
Where to Plant Tulip Bulbs
When planting your tulip bulbs, be sure to choose a sunny spot that provides plenty of direct sun throughout the day. They will need at least 6 hours of sunlight each day once they start growing.
Sun gives your bulbs all the nutrients it needs in order to thrive and create a vivid display of flowery beauty.
It’s also important that the soil where you plant your tulip bulbs drains well, so choose an area with no standing water or pooling.
If your soil is very heavy, you may need to line the holes with rock or mix in some sand or other organic material to lighten it up a little before planting your tulip bulbs.
Tulip Planting Depth and Spacing
To ensure your tulips thrive and bloom, make sure to plant them at the correct depth.
A good rule of thumb is to plant the tulip bulbs in a hole that is 2-3 times as deep as the bulb’s height. This should be approximately 8 inches deep, depending on the size of your bulbs.
This depth protects the bulbs from things like squirrels, pests, and frost.
You can even get special bulb planting tools that help plant at the exact depth required for the bulbs you’re planting.
If you are planting a whole bed of tulip bulbs, space the bulbs about 3 inches apart. You can do a little bit less for small bulbs, and further apart for large tulip varieties.
How to Plant Tulips
One of the most important steps in growing tulips from bulbs is planting the bulb in the correct direction.
When planting those bulbs, be sure to pay attention to direction: place them in the soil with the pointed end facing up.
Doing this will ensure that when the bulb starts growing, the stem will reach the sunlight before running out of energy.
Sometimes you might come across a bulb that’s hard to tell which end is pointy. If that happens, take your best guess. Oftentimes the bulb will right themselves as they grow anyway!
Once you’ve got the bulbs in their holes,cover them with soil and top dress with compost. Make sure you don’t leave any part of the bulb exposed or it can dry out.
Then water them well, to encourage them to start putting out roots right away.
If the fall is very dry, you might need to water your bulbs weekly. Once the temperatures have dropped to frost level, you can stop watering until spring.
Protect Your Tulip Bulbs from Pests
The biggest pests for tulip bulbs are squirrels, chipmunks and voles.
Planting deeply is one of the best way to deter these pests. You can also top your newly planted bulbs with a layer of mulch.
You can use leaves, wood chips, or even gravel to deter the critters.
If the pests are particularly bad, you might need to put some chicken wire over the soil, but under the mulch. This wire prevents digging, but has large enough openings that the tulip stems can grow through.
Enjoy Your Beautiful Tulips!
Growing tulips from bulbs is a rewarding experience, and when they bloom they will add so much color to your garden and yard!
You should see signs of growth in later winter and early spring as the weather begins to warm.
When you see leaves begin to emerge, you can add compost or fertilizer to your tulips to help them grow strong stems and blooms.
Don’t worry about frost, tulips are used to cold temperatures and their leaves and stems can withstand frost. If they have already bloomed and you are expected a hard frost, you may choose to cut the stems and bring them inside to enjoy.
Caring for Tulips After Blooming
Once your tulip blooms begin to fade, you can snip off the flower head, but leave the stems and leaves.
Allow the leaves to remain on the plants for at least 6 weeks after flowering. Their foliage helps them gather food and energy for the following year.
After the leaves turn yellow and die back, you can cut it, or mow it over.
Growing Tulips from Bulbs FAQ
Are tulips perennials?
Technically, tulips are perennial. But due to years and years of hybridizing many varieties don’t seem to bloom as well in subsequent years. If you want blooms year after year, you can choose to plant new bulbs each fall, or choose a variety that is truly perennial.
What if I forgot to plant in the fall. Can I plant tulips in the spring?
Plant them now! While fall is best, the ground is always the better place for tulip bulbs to be. Plant them and hope for the best!
How many tulips can you plant together?
Too many bulbs in one place can cause crowding and root constriction. Planting your bulbs at about 2 inches apart can give you a nice, full bed of blooms.
Planting tulip bulbs in the fall is the best way to get huge blooms come spring. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful tulips in no time. Happy planting!
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