How to plant tulips for beautiful Spring blooms

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Tulips are a favourite in the garden and are known as harbingers of Spring (they’re one of the first of the season to produce blooms after the daffodil). Their beautiful flowers and vibrant colors are a refreshing change after a cold and dreary winter.

There are so many different varieties available now, especially if you use a garden catalogue.  Colours range from solid hues, such as pink, red, yellow and even black, to stripy varieties like Raspberry Ripple, and the most dramatic are the frizzy lipped frizzy parrot tulip variety.

They are easy to plant and maintain although the digging required can be a bit overwhelming if you decide to plant dozens in the Autumn – but so worthwhile to do and you’re sure to appreciate the effort come Spring.

Here are  a few growing tips (even in pots!)…

Choose bulbs that are plump and firm, don’t use any that have soft spots or mold since they likely suffer from rot.

They flourish in well dug soil, prepare it by digging at least 12 inches deep so it’s loose and clump free.

How Deep: Instructions should have been included at time of purchase. If not a basic guideline is to bury them three times the bulb height in depth (so if it’s 2 inches high, dig a hole 6 inches deep, leaving 4 inches of soil above the top tip once it’s planted in the soil).

How Far Apart: About two times their width apart (you can plant farther apart but closer together gives an impressive show once they start blooming).

Using a bulb planter or a trowel, dig a hole in the prepared soil to the required depth needed (one hole per bulb). If you are planting several together, dig up an area large enough to accommodate them all instead of digging one hole at a time (big time saver!).

Plant with the pointy side up, the flat root side sitting at the bottom of the hole. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which end is which, in these cases a safe bet is to plant it on its side–the plant will figure things out and grow up. Fill the hole back with soil making sure there are no air pockets and pat the ground lightly as you fill.

Water thoroughly.

When:    Sometime between September and end of October

Where:   Choose a location where they will receive at least six hours of sun, the bulbs need plenty of sun so they can store energy for next year’s blooms. Soil should be well draining to prevent rot.

Growing Them In Pots:

Yes tulips can be grown in pots and containers! They’ll still need to be planted in the Autumn and Winter outside, here are a few tips:

Choose a pot with drainage holes, fill the bottom with a layer of pea gravel or rocks for drainage.

Use a potting soil that isn’t heavy with peat, you want the soil to be well draining so they don’t rot. You can mix a bit of sand into the soil to increase drainage if you like.

Fill bottom of pot with soil deep enough so that the top bulb tip will be 3 to 4 inches from the top of soil. They can be planted much closer to each other when grown in pots (about 1/4″ to 1/2″ apart).

Plant as noted above (pointy side up and flat bottom down) and cover them with dirt.

Cover the top of the soil lightly with garden compost, a heavy layer of mulch for harsh winters (about 2″ deep).


Place the container in an area of the garden where they’ll have some protection from the sun and harsh weather (for example: near hedges). If you live in a harsh winter climate, place it somewhere where the bulbs won’t freeze solid (unheated garage for example). They will freeze easier when planted in containers so you do need to take care where you place it if you have very cold winters.

When you notice the first shoots growing in the Spring, take the pot and place it in full sun then give them a good drink of water.

What is your favourite colour and variety of tulip?

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