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How to plant Tulips

How to plant and grow Tulips

Tulips are a stunning and popular choice of flower for a spring garden. They add plenty of character to your pots on your patio and borders or features in your garden. Tulips are best planted during the months of October/November so the cold temperatures can kill off any viruses found in the soil which may infect the bulbs.

Tulips can vary in height and colour so always plan ahead and know whether you need shorter varieties for your rockery or taller ones to add a bit of dimension against other flowers. Before you purchase your Tulip bulbs, you also need to consider whether you have a colour scheme in your garden. Some gardeners like to have all white flowers or you may like to be more dramatic and choose some of the deeper shades of colours. Some Tulips like ‘Queen of Night’ are unbelievably dark in colour, they are almost black! You may like to mix your colours, if so and you want a full display of tulips then make sure to choose the same group of Tulip: Single Early, Double Early and Triumph are great for containers as they mix well with other Spring flowers and will not look too tall for their pot. However, Parrot and Viridiflora types may also work well. If you are planning to group together different varieties, be sure to plan that they flower at the same time as they won’t have the same affect if they flower 6 weeks after the other.

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Tulips planted in crates for a rustic feature 

So, once you have chosen the height and colour, you need to work out how many bulbs you may need. If planting in pots you may want to layer them like what the Dutch call a ‘Bulb Lasagne’. This will give a dense display of Tulips as you layer them on top of each other. We would recommend planting bulbs about 2-3cm apart (1-1.5″) with the tallest varieties planted deepest (about 30cm deep), covered with 2″ of potting compost and then plant the smallest varieties on top as the top layer. The lower bulbs will shoot up bending around anything they may come across in their path. We would suggest using an 18″ pot and fill in it with 18 -2o bulbs. So now work out how many you may fit into your pot based on this.

When planting, make sure you place the tulip bulbs pointy end up in a location with well-drained soil. Tulips will not thrive in water-logged areas. Tulips like to receive full sun for most of the day. However, some varieties can tolerate shady areas too. Check with the individual variety. If planting in the garden, plant the bulbs with their pointed tops 12cm below the soil surface. Allow 4 to 5 bulbs per square foot.

After planting, water the Tulips well, gently soaking the soil to settle it around the bulbs. Water as needed during active growth periods. After flowering has finished for the season leave the foliage in place; don’t cut it off. The leaves will gather sunlight, create food through photosynthesis and strengthen the bulbs for the future. By mid summer the leaves may yellow and die back. Foliage may be removed at this point.