A stunning display of springtime tulips takes some pre-planning. Plan the tulip bed in the fall, plant the tulip bulbs carefully and follow a few special tulip growing tips for a tulip garden that will bloom in the early spring.
When to Plant Tulip Bulbs
Since tulips flower in the early spring, they should be planted in the fall. Tulip bulbs need to have a cold, dormant period in order to develop and flower successfully in the spring. According to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Services, spring-flowering bulbs, like tulips, should be planted when the soil temperatures are less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 16 degrees Celsius. Depending on location, this could be anywhere from late September to November.
How to Plant Tulip Bulbs
Clear the flower bed where the tulip bulbs will be planted of all old vegetation. Small tulip bulbs, like those of the miniature tulip, should be planted to a depth of five inches. Larger tulip bulbs can be planted six to eight inches deep. Place the bulbs in the soil with the root end down. Space the bulbs three to five inches apart. Fill in the holes with loose soil and water the planted tulip bulbs thoroughly.
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Special Tips for Growing Tulips
Tulip bulbs are susceptible to damage from moles and other rodents. To keep rodents away, plant several garlic cloves throughout the tulip bed. The Dutch Bulbs and Tulips website also recommends that tulips be planted in well-drained soil. Avoid overly wet soil since that could result in the tulip bulbs rotting or being vulnerable to fungi.
After the tulips have bloomed, resist trimming the foliage back. The bulbs continue to grow and gain energy from the foliage for the next few weeks. Dutch Bulb and Tulips suggests that the foliage and seed pods be cut back three weeks after the tulip flowers have died.
Some controversy exists over whether or not tulip bulbs should be removed from the ground for summer storage. Many people choose to leave them in the ground with good results. Some gardeners prefer to remove the bulbs and replant them in the fall. If the gardener chooses to remove the tulip bulbs from the soil, it’s recommended that be done six weeks after the foliage has been cut back. Brush off any extra dirt and store the tulip bulbs in a cool, dry location in vermiculite until it’s time to plant them again in the fall.
Tulips are an early spring flower and are a beautiful addition to a flower bed. Remember to plant fall bulbs for a spring garden.