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Growing Tulips

Category Bulbs
Tulips are a very popular flower the world over. Learn how to grow these lovely flowers in your own yard. This is a guide to growing tulips.


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February 10, 2006
Botanical Name: Tulipa

Life Cycle: perennial

Planting Time: fall

Height: 4" to 30"

Exposure: full sun to light shade


Soil: rich, well-drained soil

Hardiness: zones 3 to 8

Bloom Time: Spring

Flower: A variety of brilliant solid and mixed color patterns (except blue); saucer-shaped with 6 petals (except doubles); 400+ cultivars.

Foliage: Blue-green, smooth, thick, upright leaves with a blade-like shape; 6 to 10 inches long

Propagation: Bulbs

Suggested Use: Beds, borders, cut flowers, walkways and mass plantings

Growing Hints:

Plant bulbs from 4 to 8 inches deep and 4 to 8 inches apart in the fall. Bulbs should be free of mold or black spots and the outer tunic (brown layer) should be intact. If bulbs fail to bloom, they may have been handled or stored improperly before purchasing. For example, bulbs stored above 70F may not bloom well-or at all the first year, but may emerge the second year. If you want bulbs to bloom south of zone 8, you'll need to cold treat the bulbs (in the refrigerator) for 4-6 weeks before planting or buy bulbs pre-chilled. Bulbs can be moved or discarded when leaves die back and should thrive in dry soil conditions after flowering.

Interesting Facts:

The absence of emerging growth may be an indicator that rodents have made a buffet out of your bulbs. Placing chicken wire over the tops of holes after planting or mixing blood meal in with the dirt used to refill the planting holes will discourage most rodents from snacking on your hard work.
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March 11, 20060 found this helpful

Hi beachers,

Let me preface my response by saying that depending on who you ask, tulip bulbs can require anywhere from 4-16 weeks to chill to induce blooming. How long they need exactly depends on the variety. If you're not sure what variety you have, 8-10 weeks is a safer bet. Tulips should be planted in the fall. Some zones don't reach cold enough temps or stay there long enough to chill the bulbs. In this case, youll need to simulate cold weather (about 40F) by storing the tulips in your refrigerator before planting in the fall. Start this process early so that they are ready to plant by November or December-your optimum window for planting bulbs in Southern Cal. You can also order bulbs that have been pre-chilled, but not usually this time of year. Some sources will claim you can pre-chill bulbs anytime during the year. I'm not convinced. Bulbs are grown and shipped with optimal planting times in mind. If stored too long dry before they are prechilled or planted they tend to die. These are usually the bulbs you see marked way down at the stores. You can try planting them or prechilling them and planting them, but they will usually not produce good results. I hope that helps clear things up!


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Red tulips in bloom.

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This page contains tulip photos. These lovely spring flowering bulbs are available in so many colors and varieties that it is easy to create a beautiful tulip planting in your garden.


July 28, 2011

Tulips in the warm winter areas of California are difficult for the average gardener. However if you plant Darwin tulips (following directions), you don't have to dig them up until they get crowded. This takes about 4 or 5 years depending on the spacing.

When we have a very warm winter, I buy large bags of ice and pour the ice over the tulips. 2 applications of ice in mid February should do the trick. This has worked for me in central CA for over 20 years, and I have not lost a tulip!

By Elizabeth K. from Salinas, CA

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I love tulips but do not have the patience to wait for them to "brown out" so I buy some in the spring, and set the roots into my mulch so only the flower and leaves show.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

March 4, 20140 found this helpful

I was given a pot of tulips and they are done blooming. What do I do to be able to plant them this spring?

By Linda

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March 4, 20140 found this helpful

I don't know the answer to your question, but I do know that in order for tulips to bloom at the right time in the spring, when they are outside, they have to be planted in the fall.

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0 found this helpful
April 30, 2010

I have been given several dozen tulip bulbs that were just pulled out to make way for summer flowers. Can I plant them now? I do not have a garage to store them in. Will the mice get them if I store in the basement? Do I put the whole plastic bag in an extra refrigerator as you advised someone else?

Hardiness Zone: 7b

By Micki from Alexandria, VA

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April 30, 20100 found this helpful

I don't know if it would work to plan tulips now or not. When I had a yard I planted things like that in the fall, and as the tulips were almost done blooming I planted annuals in between the tulips and cut the tulip greenery down as they were done blooming.

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April 30, 20100 found this helpful

The bag in the fridge provides the cold cycle they need to bloom, but I believe you can plant them now, they just won't bloom until next spring. The leaves nourish the bulbs for the blooming cycle.

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May 6, 20100 found this helpful

I wondered the same thing. I got a potted plant from someone and wondered if I could plant them outside and if they would grow if I planted them now. I guess I won't know till I try but if someone definitely knew they would not bloom next year, I would not bother.

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February 20, 20130 found this helpful

I live in Long Barn California. Currently the ground is covered by 1 foot or so of snow. The ground has defrosted a little now where the dirt is workable. Can I plant my tulip bulbs now, Feb 2013?

By Cori A.

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February 22, 20130 found this helpful

Here's a guide that may be helpful: http://www.thri  0007726.tip.html

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0 found this helpful
June 29, 2009

I live in NW Ohio. I have some tulip bulbs that I just did not have time to plant last fall. I have them in my basement in a bag. They have "sprouts" coming out of them. Is it too late to plant them this Fall? What would happen if I planted them now? Dumb question, I know, but I know little about gardening. In fact, my husband used to tell me that I could kill plastic flowers. Ha, ha.

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By chef4u from Sylvania, OH

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July 6, 20090 found this helpful

I'd plant them now as the 'sprouts' show that they are still alive. If they grow it will give the leaves a chance to feed the bulbs and then the cycle should get back to normal. Persevere with your gardening - it will give you so much pleasure!

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July 10, 20090 found this helpful

Plant them now, this happened to my mom several years back and she had the preetiest red tulips ever. P.S. tell your husband like I tell mine. Zip your lips. LOL

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November 23, 20110 found this helpful

I am wanting tulips in flower in pots for table decorations for May 19th! I have bought 'Donald Duck' (Greigii) variety which states that there will be flowers in May (12 ins) and 'Double Red Riding Hood' (Greigii), with flowers Apr/May (12 ins). I realise it is impossible to be sure about the timing, but could you advise when to plant them. I shall be very grateful and certainly wouldn't blame you if it doesn't work! Thanks.

By Nesta R from Manchester UK

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0 found this helpful
April 6, 2010

Last year I planted a lot of tulip bulbs in a partly shady spot. They bloomed beautifully. This year the foliage is huge and falling over. About one fourth of the flowers bloomed, but they're small. Any suggestions?

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By Julie from Lexington, KY

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0 found this helpful
April 4, 2010

What is something I can use to fertilize my tulips that I have at home already?

Hardiness Zone: 11

By Joshua from Rock Creek, OH

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
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