Every spring we have a dozen or more people come into the greenhouse wanting to buy tulip bulbs – they see them blooming around town and want to plant some for themselves. Tulips are a delightful spring flower; they bloom before most everything else, and add tons of cheer after our long dreary, non-gardening winters. Plus they are one of the easiest flowers to grow successfully, even for beginning gardeners.
BUT they have to be planted in September or October.
Here are a few easy steps if you haven’t planted them before:
1) Choose plump, firm bulbs – if they are withered they will not be viable
2) Dig out an area that is approximately 6” deep by 6” wide. (You’ll want to dig a few random areas of this size – tulips look best in groupings)
3) Place 2 to 5 bulbs at the bottom (not touching-maybe 3” apart), pointy end up, add a small handful of Bone meal, and replace the soil, filtering it between the bulbs.
4) Water well to start the rooting process, go inside to read a book, drink a hot toddy and wait for a great flower show next spring.
*Note – Tulips grow in most soils, but they don’t like water-logged areas which will rot the bulb.
You can also force (such a harsh word – I prefer sweet talk) tulips indoors, in other words trick the bulb into thinking it’s planted outdoors.
Follow these steps:
1) Purchase the same plump bulbs in fall, store them in a paper bag in the fridge or other cool (5 – 9 degrees C) place for at least 12 to 15 weeks.
2) Choose a pot with a drainage hole and fill with damp potting soil to within 2” of the top. (the pot should be big enough that you have at least 2” of soil below the bulbs). Add perlite if the soil is not well-draining.
3) Place bulbs into pot, pointy end up and at rim height, close together but not touching (more bulbs will make a prettier pot)
4) Cover with soil, water well and set into a sunny, warm spot.