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How To Plant Tulip Bulbs Step by Step

Learn the ABC of Planting Tulip Bulbs

When to Plant Bulbs

By the end of summer and with the first chills of autumn, the weather kicks off to start planting bulbs that will bloom next spring and summer. Although the cultivation of tulip bulbs flowers can easily take place outdoors, the easy development of bulbs in pots opens the possibility to those gardeners who have a more space-reduced environment. Follow these steps to create the most spectacular blooming container for the next spring and summer and learn how to plant any bulb. All about how to plant tulip bulbs in this article.

How to Plant Bulbs in Fall and Winter

Step 1 – Choose spring bulbs and consider planting combinations. Blooming times can occur in different months. Combining different bulbs, such as tulips, irises, daffodils, hyacinth, allium, and crocus, in the same container allows having flowering at the lengths of different months and in different stages, to prolong the visual effect.

How to Choose Bulbs

Always buy quality bulbs. Those damaged or affected by mold will not be successful.

Learn more about What are Bulbs in Plants.

Choose the Container for Tulip Bulbs

Step 2 – Choose the container with a drainage hole that is adequate. Just consider the correct size. Should be enough room for the bulbs and their roots, at least 2 inches (5 cm) under the bulbs for root growth.  

Prepare the Soil for Tulip Bulbs

Step 3 is to prepare the soil. Fill the bottom of the container with rocks or broken terracotta pots to help with drainage and reduce the amount of compost you need.

Mix good compost formulated for container growing (loam-based compost) with no less than 50% of sand or vermiculite for drainage. This soil works for any bulb, not just tulips.

Plant the Bulbs

The next step is to wet the bulbs for 3-4 hours before planting. Pot the bulbs up in autumn. Be aware of the correct position while planting. 

How Deep to Plant Tulip Bulbs

Planting depth and distance between bulbs depend on the specific bulb. The general rule is to cover above the bulb with twice the height of the bulb, as you can see in the image below for the tulip bulbs.

tulip bulbs position how deep planting
Correct Position for Planting Tulip Bulbs – How Deep to Plant a Tulip Bulb?

Check the planting depth instructions on the package. As a rule, always leave the same height of the bulb under the bulb for root development and cover above the bulb with 2 times the height of the bulb.

The combination of bulbs can be done in the same pot, placing them at different depths, generating a “lasagna” of layers of soil and bulbs, with large bulbs deeper and small bulbs closer to the surface. This will extend the bloom period (early, mid-, and late-season).

lasagna of bulbs

Watering and Temperature for Tulip Bulbs

Step 5 – When the water is freely draining from the bottom of your pot, the soil has received satisfactory moisture. Spring-blooming bulbs require a chilling period of 8 to 14 weeks at temperatures between 35° and 40° F to growing roots.

Therefore, place the container in a cool, dark place and frost-free environment. When the topsoil feels dry about one-two inches deep, it’s a good moment for watering. Do not dry out, moisture is needed but over-water can easily rot the bulbs.

Tulips Care for After Blooming

Step 6 – Care for Tulips after blooming: as your bulbs grow and bloom, check soil moistness day-to-day, and water as needed to keep the soil moist but not wet or soggy.

Recover your Tulip Bulbs for the Next Season

Step 7 – Tulip bulbs can be recovered for the next fall season. At the time leaves have completely turned dry and brown, empty the pot and retrieve the bulbs.

How to Store Bulbs

Store the bulbs in a cool and dry place for planting at the end of summer.

tulips arkansas little rock
Tulips – Argenta Arts District, North Little Rock, Arkansas

About Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan is an agronomist and a master gardener. In her previous roles, Julia was an advisor promoting large-scale food growing in urbanized areas, introducing the concept of chemical-free produce. She is an expert in putting her hands in the soil, developing organic foods, and improving production processes for decades. Julia is a natural teacher and encourages every person in her way to grow their own food. She split her days between writing and reviewing for The Garden Style Website and offering assessments to cure edible land. Julia enjoys connecting with The Garden Style Community.

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