To get beautiful tulips next year without having to buy potted, you need to play them in early October, before the first frost! Want to try your hand at tulips this year? It's not easy! You've got to make sure you don't overwater your tulips, and save them from getting eaten by rodents. But, it can be done!
Here are some tips for planting tulips now, for beautiful color in the spring!
- Plant tulip bulbs in the fall, 6 to 8 weeks before a hard frost is expected and when soils are below 60 degrees F. (See our frost charts.) This timing ranges from early autumn (Zone 4) to late autumn (warmer zones). Never fear, if you missed planting last fall you can buy potted tulips that are blooming. Enjoy them in the pot and transplant into the garden when the leaves begin to yellow.
- Most tulips grow best in full sun in loose, rich soil with good drainage. All tulips dislike excessive moisture. Ideally, the soil is well-drained, neutral to slightly acidic, fertile, and dry or sandy.
- Make sure to plant bulbs where you have room for them to grow (i.e.: enough height and space between other plantings).
- Plant bulbs in groups of 5 to 9. Odd-numbered plantings in groups (as opposed to lines) present a more pleasing and natural display.
- Plant bulbs approximately 6” deep, with the pointy end facing up and the roots down. Mark the area where you have planted, and cover with a layer of mulch such as leaves, peat moss, or pine needles to protect over winter.
- Tulips prefer a site with full or afternoon sun. In Zones 7 and 8, choose a shady site or one with morning sun only.
- Rainy summers, irrigation systems, and wet soil are death to tulips. Never deliberately water a bulb bed. Wet soil leads to fungus and disease and can rot bulbs. Add shredded pine bark, sand, or anything to foster swift drainage.
- To deter mice and miles—if they have been a problem—put holly or any other thorny leaves in the planting holes. Some gardeners use kitty litter or crushed gravel.
- If ravenous rodents are a real problem, you may need to take stronger measures, such as planting bulbs in a cage of wire.
- If you're planning to raise perennial tulips, feed them when you plant them in the fall. Bulbs are their own complete storage system and contain all of the nutrients they need for one year. Use organic material, compost, or a balanced time-release bulb food.
And there you have it! It's not too hard; though if your region gets much colder, you'll have to make some adjustments to keep the bulbs alive!