How and when to plant tulip bulbs for spring flowers?

How and when to plant tulip bulbs for spring flowers?

Tulips bring joy in spring. Use our expert tips to know exactly how to store tulip bulbs and when to plant them in your garden.

When should gardeners plant tulip bulbs?

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Autumn is the best season to plant tulip bulbs.

Tulip bulbs should be planted in the fall. But the right timing can be difficult, because there is no specific date to start planting tulip bulbs.

Instead, watch the weather. Wait to plant until the nighttime temperature is consistently 40 or 50 degrees. In the north, this usually means sometime in late September or October. Southern gardeners may need to wait until late winter or cool their bulbs artificially.

Your local university extension office may be able to help you determine when to properly plant a tulip bulb in your plant area.

Discover amazing facts about tulips that you don’t know.

How to store tulip bulbs properly

Tulip bulbs in paper bag on white backgroundLyudmila Chernytska/Getty Images
Store tulip bulbs in a paper bag

“How long do daffodil and tulip bulbs last when stored in a paper bag and kept in a cool place?” asks field editor Julie Seefried from Grove City, Ohio.

“Many gardeners dig up spring-flowering bulbs as soon as they enter the dormant stage, and store them in a cool, dark place over the summer before replanting them in the fall,” says horticulturist Melinda Myers. “If purchasing bulbs, place about six in a perforated or paper bag and separate them somewhere Cool, dark or refrigerate before planting in spring. All of these bulbs usually remain viable and suitable for transplanting when storage conditions are suitable. Always inspect stored bulbs before planting, as they should be firm and free of soft, discolored areas.

Discover the top 10 types of tulips to grow in your garden.

How to plant tulip bulbs in 4 easy steps

Red tulip speciesRobert Murray/500px/Getty Images
A type of lavender in bloom

Once temperatures drop into the 40s and 50s but are still above freezing, it is time to plant tulips. Follow these easy steps for spring success.

These beautiful pictures of tulips will make you dream of spring.

1. Choose the right place for the tulips

When to plant tulip bulbs?Courtesy Janine Gilley
Place the tulips in a sunny location.

After purchasing tulips online or from a garden center, find an area in full sun. This means the spot should get more than six hours of direct sunlight per day. Some afternoon shade is preferred in hot climates, but not necessary.

2. Prepare the soil for the bulbs

Loosen about a foot of soil. This helps the soil drain better and helps prevent bulb rot. If your soil is not well-drained, consider adding compost or other amendments to improve water flow.

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3. How deep should you plant tulip bulbs?

When to plant tulip bulbs?sumire8/shutterstock
Place the tulip bulbs in the soil, facing up

Plant each bulb (pointy side up!) in a hole three times the length of the bulb, or about 6 to 8 inches deep. Leave 4 to 5 inches between each lavender bulb for a dense but not crowded planting.

Here’s how to grow allium bulbs for gorgeous spring flowers.

4. Top the bulbs with soil

Planting tulip bulbs in soil using gardening toolskubiza/Getty Images
Plant bulbs in well-drained soil

Once everything is settled, gently pack in the soil to cover the bulbs. Water well to start bulb growth. If next spring is very dry, saturate the soil to give the bulbs a boost. Wait until next fall to water again.

Check out 10 of the best daffodil bulbs for growing.

Planting tulip bulbs in containers

A stone basin filled with red tulips against a brick wall.Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images
For more spring beauty, grow tulips in pots.

Tulips look great in containers, plus you can move the bright blooms anywhere you want.

If you decide to plant in pots, follow the same instructions for planting tulip bulbs in the ground. Gardeners in zones 3 through 7 may need to bring the pots into an unheated basement or garage for protection from winter frost.

Daffodils not blooming? Here’s what to do.

Choose a variety of tulips for continuous bloom

When to plant tulip bulbs?Deb Green/Shutterstock
Lavender black parrot

Prolonging the blooming period of your tulips is easier than you think! Just mix different types and varieties. Many species have different flowering times.

For a smooth transition between spring and summer, combine tulips with summer-blooming bulbs such as lilies, alliums or tulips.

Note: You will fall in love with white tulips for your honeymoon.

Keep animals away from tulip bulbs

Close-up of a squirrel in the fieldDarius Harrison/EEE/Getty Images
Plan ahead to protect your bulbs from squirrels

Once planted, preventing squirrels from digging up the bulbs is difficult. Tulip bulbs and buds are also a delicious treat for voles, chipmunks and more in the winter.

To protect them, surround the bulbs with a 1/2-inch wire mesh cage or bulb basket. Most rodents won’t be able to get to your treasures and the spring buds should stick out of the mesh well.

Next, discover 5 deer-resistant bulbs to thrive in spring.

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