How To Grow Tulips: A Complete Guide For Gardeners

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Real Men Sow

Tulips are essential for spring and these beautiful bulbs can be found in a variety of colours, including pale pastels and hot, vivid shades. These bulbs are great for adding colour to borders in April or May and would also grow well in pots.

Tulips are spring bulbs that are planted in the middle to late fall. Although technically, tulips are perennial many varieties have only been around for a year due to years of breeding. To ensure a beautiful display, many gardeners plant new bulbs every autumn. You must plant new bulbs every year if you grow tulips in pots.

When Do Tulips bloom

Some tulips bloom earlier than others. Mid-season tulips bloom in April and May, while early-flowering varieties bloom in March. Late-flowering varieties bloom in May. Mixing different varieties can extend your display. Mixing flower colors, shapes and heights is possible. Although combining tulips can be difficult, you can purchase ready-made mixes online or at a garden center.Tulips

What’s the Best Time To Plant Tulips

The best time to plant tulip bulbs is mid-to-late autumn. This is when the soil is well-drained and moist, November is the best month. The bulb should be planted at least three times its depth, with the pointed end up, at a distance of approximately 5 cm. Fresh bulbs are best for the best display.

Where To Plant Tulips

All types of tulips thrive in sunny, well-drained soil. It is a good idea for tulips to be planted behind perennials, as their new foliage will hide the tulips’ leaves when they die back. Before planting, add plenty of well-rotted organic material to improve sandy or clay soils. You can add horticultural grit to the bottom of your planting hole if your soil is particularly heavy. Also, tulips grow well in pots that are made of peat-free, multipurpose soil.

When To Plant Tulips

You can plant tulip bulbs from mid-October, but it is best to do so in November. This is because it lowers the chance of a fungal disease called Tulip Fire. It is easily eradicated by colder temperatures. Tulip bulbs can be planted as late as December or January, but they should still flower in spring. You can also buy potted bulbs in spring at your garden centre, if you forget to buy bulbs. This will allow you to make a few pot displays.

How To Plant Tulips

Dig a hole in the ground with a bulb planter or garden trowel. Then, place the bulb with the pointed end down into the hole. Plant tulips 20cm below the ground, or approximately three times the height of the bulbs. There should be about five cm between each one. Plant tulips in large groups for the best display.

Pots are also a great way to grow tulips. Fill the container half with compost, which is peat-free and multipurpose. Then plant the bulbs at three times the depth with only a few centimetres space between them.

How To Deadhead Tulips

After flowering, tulips can be deadheaded. Deadheading certain species is a bad idea as you could lose the seed. Remember to wait until the foliage turns yellow before you cut it. Yellowing of foliage takes about a month after flowering. The bulbs will be less strong if you trim the foliage too soon.

How To Propagate Tulips

It’s best to plant tulip bulbs every fall if you want to be able to enjoy the blooms year after year. You can also lift the bulbs and store them. After the bulbs have turned yellow, you can lift them using a fork. Then remove the leaves and cut the stem. Allow the bulbs to dry, then place them in a bag made of paper.

You can gently pull out offset bulbs that have formed around the sides of your main bulb. These can be gently pulled out of the main bulb’s sides. The bulbs of Species will self-seed in your garden. To encourage more plants, avoid deadheading.

Problems When Growing Tulips & How To Solve Them

Botrytis Tulipae (also known as Botrytis Tulipae) can be a fungal disease. It is especially dangerous in the wet season because the spores spread by rain and wind. You may notice distorted or stunted shoots, leaves, and unsightly brown spots all over the plant. Your plants should be removed and burned if they are affected. Also, avoid planting tulips in the same area for more than two years. To prevent the problem of bulbs being stored year after year, dip them in a fungicide solution. The disease can be reduced by planting bulbs in November.

Tulip Types And Flowering Times

There are more than a dozen varieties of tulip. Each variety has a different flower height and shape, which means that they bloom at different times during spring. The weather conditions can affect flowering times and they can vary from one year to the next. It also depends on where you live. Tulips in the north can bloom several weeks earlier than those in south.

Early Tulips (Late March To April)

  • Single Early These are the earliest tulips that bloom, typically in March or April. Simple, cup-shaped flowers with strong stems. You might also like ‘Apricot Beauty” or ‘Prinses Irene”.
  • Double Early Long lasting double flowers with long stems that look just like peonies. From early to mid April. You might also try the Tulip Verona, which has pale yellow flowers.
  • Kaufmanniana Hybrids water-lily like flowers and one of the most reliable perennial varieties.
  • Species / Botanical Tulips Small and delicate (10-15 cm in height), but durable and long-lasting. They can be used in rockeries, gravel gardens or containers. If you don’t deadhead them, they will come back year after year. Some flowers appear early while others bloom later in the season.

Mid-Season Tulips (April To May)

  • Triumph Tulips –  These are tough tulips that bloom in April and are great for windy areas. 
  • Darwin Hybrids Tall tulips that have large, goblet-shaped flowers. They are strong, wind-resistant, perennial, and reliable. 
  • Fosteriana HybridsThese have long, narrow flowers that open wide when full sun is shining on them. Sometimes they have brown or purple markings. They were previously known as Emperor Tulips.
  • Lily floweredThese tulips have the appearance of lilies because of their elegant and pointed flowers.
  • Fringed These are cup-shaped flowers with frilly edges.
  • Viridiflora – Has green markings on its petals.
  • RembrandtLong-stemmed varieties that have streaky, bicoloured blooms.
  • Parrot These are flamboyant flowers with fringed or twisted petals. They have a lovely flopping effect.
  • Greigii Hybrids a low-growing perennial with marbled or striped leaves and large, brightly coloured flowers.

Late Tulips (May)

  • Single late/Darwin oval flowers on strong, wind-resistant stems.
  • Double late/peony flowered one of the most popular tulips and it lasts for a long time. These large flowers resemble peonies.

Tulips As Cut Flowers

Tulips make good cut flowers and have a good vase life – they will continue to grow in the water. Avoid mixing daffodils and tulips in a vase as the daffodils let out a substance that can prevent the tulips from taking up water.

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.