The Ultimate Guide to Growing Tulips

Simple yet elegant and available in a variety of colours, tulips are one of the most iconic spring flowering bulbs.

Tulips are relatively easy to grow and they grow well in borders, pots, rock gardens, containers, and window boxes.

For the best chance of creating a beautiful display of tulips, read our ultimate guide to growing tulip bulbs.

How to plant tulips

Dig planting holes around 20cm deep and a few centimetres apart from one another, then put the tulip bulbs in the holes with the pointed end facing up.

When planting tulips in a container or pot, half fill with peat-free, multipurpose compost, dig the holes, pop in the bulbs, and then top up with compost.

Where to plant tulips

Tulips will grow best in sunny areas with well-drained soil, but they can also grow well in partially shaded areas.

If you have heavy or sandy soil, you could improve your chances of the tulip bulbs thriving by adding well-rotted organic matter or horticultural grit before planting.

When to plant tulips

Tulip bulbs are spring-flowering bulbs that should be planted in autumn. They can be planted from mid-October through to January.

However, November is typically the optimum month for planting tulip bulbs. This is because the risk of tulip fire, which is a fungal disease that can wipe out tulips, is reduced in colder weather.

How often to water tulips

You should water your tulips once after planting, then continue to water moderately in spring during dry spells. If your tulips are planted in the ground and there is sufficient rain, you should not need to water regularly.

If the soil ever appears to be sodden on a wet day, before the bulbs have emerged, then you should temporarily move them to a sheltered area or unheated greenhouse. You can move them back to their original location once the soil has dried a little.

As well as watering, feeding can help to provide nutrients to tulip bulbs and support their growth, not only this year but also the following year.

From March onwards, or once in growth, feed tulip plants weekly with tomato feed or another potassium-rich liquid fertiliser. Stop feeding tulip plants when their leaves begin to turn yellow and die back.

How to deadhead tulips

Tulips sometimes develop seed heads after flowering which are usually not useful as most tulips cannot grow from the seeds they produce.

However, some specialist tulips can grow from seeds, in which case you may wish to leave these untouched until they have ripened then propagate them.

For those that do not produce flowering seeds, you should deadhead tulips that have finished flowering and turned yellow.

Deadheading removes the seed heads by cutting off of the stalk, just above the leaves.

How to propagate tulips

The best way to ensure a beautiful display of tulips year after year is to plant new bulbs each autumn, but some tulip bulbs can be lifted, stored, and replanted.

Use a garden fork to lift bulbs around a month after flowering, once the foliage has yellowed. Clean the soil off the bulbs and discard any that show any signs of damage or disease.

Remove the foliage, stem, and flaky outer coating from the remaining bulbs, then leave them to dry before storing them in a paper bag until it is time for replanting.

Reflowering is not guaranteed so we recommend that you plant new bulbs among the ones you replant or in areas that are more visible or where you want to ensure there is a blooming display.

For expert advice and help with selecting the best tulip bulbs for your garden, get in touch with our team on 01775 769333 or email today.

The Boston Bulb Company has over 40 years of experience in supplying only the finest quality horticultural products from farmers and growers throughout the UK and Europe.

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