Tips on Planting Tulips

Tulips are flowering plants that emerge from bulbs. The stems are strong and erect, and each stem bears a single flower. Tulips are cup-shaped, with several petals curving inward. Tulips are most often associated with Holland, and the Netherlands Board of Tourism even offers "tulip cruises," for vacationers to see them in bloom. In fact, there are no species of tulips that are native to Holland. According to the Mount Holyoke College Botanic Garden, tulips are native to Asia and are found natively in Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Georgia. In order to grow tulips from bulbs, certain care must be taken during the months before spring.

Planting with Other Plants

If you are going to include other plants and flowers with your tulips, put the other plants in the garden before you bury the tulip bulbs. Doing this in reverse may damage tulip bulbs when a shovel or trowel is creating space for other plants.


Tulips require well-drained soil in order to develop properly. Their root systems cannot tolerate water-logged, wet soil. Soil that is clay-like or water-retaining should be amended with the addition of sand or perlite at a ratio of 1-to-1.


Plant tulips during the October through December. In USDA Hardiness Zones 4 and 5, plant during early October. In zones 6 and 7, plant tulip bulbs in late October to late November. In zones 8 and 9, where temperatures rarely reach freezing, chill the bulbs in a paper bag placed in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks before planting them in early to mid December. Tulip bulbs are planted with their pointed end facing up, at a depth of no more than 3 times their height (as measured from pointed tip to rounded bottom).

Dead Heading

After the tulips have flowered, dead head the stems (cut off the dead blossom) to allow the bulb to store energy. Bulbs gather energy from the leaves and stems, so leave those intact and allow them to die down naturally. Once the leaves are brown and withered, cut them off the bulb.


Dig up spent tulip bulbs after the foliage has died. Store the bulbs in a cool, dark area with plenty of air circulation. An ideal place is in a basket located in a dark, cool basement or garage.

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About this Author

Cyn Vela is a freelance writer and professional blogger. Her work has been published on dozens of websites, as well as in local print publications. Vela's articles usually focus on where her passions lie: writing, web development, blogging, parenting, gardening, and health and wellness. She studied English literature at Del Mar College, and at the University of Texas at San Antonio.