What Is the Correct Way to Plant Tulip Bulbs?


Tulips prefer to be planted in soil that is 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Bulbs should be placed in soil that is cool, but not frozen, for optimal growth and performance. In milder climates, planting should take place in late fall or early winter. In climates with harsh winters, bulbs should be planted in early fall to beat the first freeze.

Step 1

Loosen the soil in your planting area with a rototiller. Add a compost or bulb fertilizer to the area and work into the soil with the rototiller.

Step 2

Dig a hole 6 inches deep with a hand shovel. In areas with a mild winter, dig to 8 inches deep to reach the soil temperature needed. Place the bulb in the hole, pointed side up. Add a bulb fertilizer to the bulb and surrounding soil. Cover the bulb with at least 4 inches of soil to keep the bulb cool. Measure the area with a tape measure and plant 25 tulip bulbs per 5 feet of garden space for a full display of color.

Step 3

Firm the soil around each bulb and water well. Apply a ground cover, such as straw, to maintain moisture in the soil and keep the soil an adequate temperature throughout winter. Do not water until leaves have sprouted from the plant in spring. Resume a normal watering pattern then.

Tips and Warnings

  • Buy bulbs early in the season to provide the best quality display. Bulbs purchased late in the season will produce fewer blooms.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller
  • Compost (optional)
  • Bulb fertilizer
  • Hand shovel
  • Straw
  • Tape measure


  • Texas A&M University: Bulbs
  • American Meadows: Late Fall and Winter Planting Times
Keywords: tulip bulb, plant tulip, bulbs