Sunday 19 September 2010

How to grow tulips

This will be the first time i grow tulips ever. And, since i want my tulips to have successful bloom on my garden next spring, I did a lot of research on the how to take care of them, there is a lot of care and consideration that must be done. 

I wanted to share all I have learned, I hope everyone can find this helpful.

My garden 0070 May 02, 2010


Tulips are one of the most well known bulbs. They are one of the main cutting spring flowers, available in many shapes, sizes and colors. Because of their beauty they have been a prominent feature in many gardens around the world and have been coveted by gardeners for centuries.

Tulips Description

Tulips are perennials bulbous plant from the genus Tulipa, they grow a few leafs at the base and a long stem with a flower at the end. They can be as small as 10 cm or reach a height as much as 70 cm.

They have fleshy, elongated, waxy coated, light to medium green leafs. Their flowers are colorful and attractive cup shaped with six petals.
Tulips are natives of Central Asia in mountainous areas with temperate climates where they have a period of cool dormancy through the winter.

How to grow tulips

Tulips are classified as perennials, but because of the specific requirements of their native weather, tulips are not the easiest plants to grow as such. They do best in climates with long cool springs and early summers, but are often grown as spring blooming annual plantings in warmer areas of the world. They are typically planted from early September to November and bloom from early Spring through late May.

Is best to pick the healthiest bulbs to guaranty a nice bloom, the best bulbs usually are have a thick fresh glossy body with a smooth surface.

Growing tulips as Annuals

Tulips gather energy in their bulb thought their growing season for the next season bloom. Because of this reason store bought tulip bulbs will most times bloom nicely even if they don’t have the best growing conditions, this means tulips can be treated as an annual plant.

Annual tulips can be planted in a planter or directly into the ground. When planting tulips as annuals they must be planted in autumn from mid September to November, when the temperature varies around 15~20°C. It's best to plant them at least 15 cm deep, but they can stand as little as 5 cm. Also, they need space to grow roots, so they must have at least 5 cm of separation between each bulb. Sandy soil with good drainage and rich in organic matter is best.

Water lightly during the first months when they are growing roots and almost none during their dormancy period on the coolest months. Resume watering once the weather starts to warm again.

Their flowers bloom in spring from March to May depending on their type. If the bulbs are to be discarded it can be done once the flower starts to wither. If it will be saved for another season is best to behead after flowering, but allow the remaining leafs to die off naturally. Once all the leafs have dried the bulb can be dug out and stored on a cool and dry place until the next planting season.

Growing tulips as perennials

While having a tulip bulb bloom one year is relatively easy, having one thriving through the years is a more difficult task. Their native growing conditions must be replicated, otherwise the bulbs will slowly degrade and eventually die.

Having the bulb at an adequate depth is essential, so planting directly into the ground is recommended. The bulb must be set at least at 15 cm depth or three times its height. Also the separation between each bulb must be around 15 to 20 cm. The bulbs must be planted in autumn when the average soil temperature is around 15°C. Sandy soil rich in organic matter is best. Good drainage is essential.

Unless the seeds are wanted is best to behead after flowering, this allows the bulb to concentrate on its own recovery and development for next year's bloom and not use energy in the seeds.

If the weather becomes too hot in summer is best to dig the bulbs once all the leafs have dried and store them in a cool and dry place until the next planting season. If the weather is appropriate tulips will continue to bloom continuously over the years without any need to dig them out, but once every few years is recommended to take them out and separate any new bulb formations to avoid overcrowding.

More Tips for growing tulips

  • Bigger bulbs will have the biggest blooms, and the smallest bulbs might not flower at all.

  • Tulips have a very steady height of growth, so if tulips are planted with a difference of depth around 1~2 cm in the ground it will be noticeable when they bloom, this can be used to create interesting arrangements for their display.

  • The tulip bulbs usually have a flat side which helps to determine the direction the leafs will grow, this can also be used to plan ahead the arrangement of the tulip's display.

  • Tulips are lovely with other spring bloomers and with each other. They work well with other bulbs as companions, provided that this other bulbs are smaller and with less space requirements than the tulips.

  • For cutting tulips, only the tulips that are closed but that have color on top above their stems will open, those that are showing no color or are all green will not open when disconnected from the ground.


Tulips are very a resistant plant, however they are several diseases can affect them.
  • Blight causes brown flecks in the leaves, and often turns the plant gray after a few weeks.

  • Gray bulb rot can develop if the bulb is given to much water for too long.

  • Aphids can attack them, but they can be easily contained.

  • Crown rot is a rare kind of rot that causes the bulb and flower to die under the ground.

  • Botrytis tulipae is a major fungal disease affecting tulips, it causes cell death leading to rotten plants.

  • Tulip breaking virus causes a irregular color with spots and stripes on flowers, also, it results in smaller plants.

Classification of Tulips

Tulips have several types of classification.

They are classified based on their blooming time.
Early Flowering Tulips, blooming in March and early April.
Mid season Flowering Tulips blooming in April and early May.
Late Flowering Tulips blooming in May

They also can be classified based on their flower type or their height. Single, Double, Lily-flower, Fringed, Dwarf, Tall, Medium, etc.

My garden 0066 May 02, 2010

Tulips in Yokohama

Tulip trivia

  • They are often associated with Holland, their main cultivating country.

  • Tulips will continue growing after being cut.

  • They have been able to influence the economy of a whole country at one point (tulip mania).

  • Their name is derived from the Ottoman Turkish word "tülbend" which in turn comes from Persian language "dulband" meaning turban.

  • Tulips are considered a symbol of the Ottoman Empire in Europe.

  • There are over 3,000 different registered varieties of cultivated Tulips.

  • Tulip bulbs are replacement for onions when cooking.

Here is the information in pdf how to grow tulips feel free to share it


  1. So how will you be using your tulips? Are you planning on digging and storing or leaving them in your planter? Love tulips they're such happy flowers.

  2. Great notes for anyone wanting to grow some tulips. Not sure we can manage the 15°C soil temperature here but tulips usually grow okay. You've set me thinking that maybe we should try some as cut flowers for next spring.

  3. You've certainly researched them well, I hope they grow well for you.

  4. Tulips are difficult to grow in my hot tropical climate. So, I'll enjoy your lovely tulips. They are indeed beautiful!

  5. Thank you!
    I hope this pointers help others to grow nice tulips, but of course this are just guidelines, the perfect conditions, you can always grow without them since plants are very resistant and adaptable.
    I will see next year after the tulips bloom (fingers cross) I probably will have to set new ones

    Also I hope the pdf helps to bring more people to the blog too. I tried my first steps into InDesign and Ilustrator for it. Feel free to share around


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