Tulips General Planting Guide

Succumb to the Pull of Horticultural History
For hundreds of years gardeners have been smitten with the simple beauty of tulips. In beds, pots, urns and even window boxes these true harbingers of spring are dependably charming. Snip a few for a not-too-tall table arrangement you can easily converse over. Or set the stage for delicious dreams with a soft bedside bouquet. Could it really be spring without tulips? Planning to add some Species Tulips, too? Here's the info you'll need to get them planted just the way they like.
PLANTING
DEPTH

6-7" Deep

WATER
QUANTITY

Moderate during active growth

SUNLIGHT
QUANTITY

Full sun to light shade

PLANTING
PROXIMITY

5-6"

Outdoor Beds
  1. Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still puddles of water 5-6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site. Or amend the soil with the addition of organic material to raise the level 2 - 3 inches to improve the drainage. Peat moss, compost, ground bark or decomposed manure all work well and are widely available.
  2. Plant your tulips where they will get full sun to light shade. Keep in mind that for tulips to return in subsequent springs they will need a period of winter cooling. This happens easily in northern areas and will occur to the cooler parts of zone 8. (Some bulb sellers suggest that tulips will return after growing the year round warmth of zone 9. Sadly, it's just wishful thinking.)
  3. Plant tulips 5" apart and 6" to 7" deep at the base. Deeper planting depths are better in colder regions. Position the bulbs with the pointy end facing up.
  4. After planting, water well once, gently soaking the soil to settle it around the roots. Roots will form in the autumn. Foliage and flowers will develop in the spring.
  5. When in bloom, feel free to cut tulips for striking bouquets.
  6. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1" of moisture per week is a good estimate.
  7. By the early summer the leaves will yellow and die back. The dried foliage may be removed at this point. Your bulbs will rest until next spring when they'll beginning the next growing cycle. When leaves are absent and the bulbs are dormant, withhold water.

Pots, Barrels, Tubs & Urns
  1. Start with containers of good quality, well-drained soil. Tulips that sit in water logged soil will rot. Shorter varieties usually perform better in all but the largest containers.
  2. Plant your tulips where they will get full sun to light shade. Keep in mind that for tulips to return in subsequent springs they will need a period of winter cooling. This happens easily in northern areas and will occur to the cooler parts of zone 8. (Some bulb sellers suggest that tulips will return after growing the year round warmth of zone 9. Sadly, it's just wishful thinking.)
  3. Plant tulips 4" apart and 6" to 7" deep at the base. Deeper planting depths are better in colder regions. Position the bulbs with the pointy end facing up.
  4. After planting, water well once, gently soaking the soil to settle it around the roots. Roots will form in the autumn. Foliage and flowers will develop in the spring.
  5. When in bloom, feel free to cut tulips for striking bouquets.
  6. After blooming has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don't cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulb for the future. Water as needed during active growth periods; about 1" of moisture per week is a good estimate.
  7. By the early summer the leaves will yellow and die back. The dried foliage may be removed at this point. Your bulbs will rest until next spring when they'll beginning the next growing cycle. When leaves are absent and the bulbs are dormant, withhold water.