How to Care for a Tulip Plant


Spring garden favorites, tulips come in such a wide range of colors, shapes and sizes that there is a perfect tulip for each and every gardener. Tulips are such versatile plants, adding class to a formal garden or a carefree look to a naturalized garden. Caring for tulips takes very little time or effort, making the tulip plant an exceptional choice for novice gardeners and a favorite of more experienced gardeners.

Step 1

Plant tulip bulbs in the fall about six to eight weeks before the first frost is expected. The garden location should receive full sun daily and have well-draining soil.

Step 2

Water the tulips only a few times throughout the year for best results, since the bulbs do not like constantly wet soil. Water after planting in the fall using a soaker hose, again in early spring before they begin blooming and after the last frost, and right after blooming begins. The only other times they might need watering aside from those few times is in the summer, to prevent the soil surface from cracking, and during winter if there are extended dry spells without rain or snow.

Step 3

Feed tulips at the time of planting in the fall using a handful of bone meal added to the holes before planting the bulbs. Another handful of bone meal can be worked into the top of the soil in the early spring.

Step 4

Cut back the tulip plant foliage in late fall only after it turns yellow and dies back naturally. If the foliage is still green it is best to keep it on, because this allows the nutrients from the leaves to replenish the bulbs and creates more abundant blooms the following spring.

Step 5

Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around the tulip plants in the early spring to help control weeds, retain moisture in the soil and keep the soil temperature consistent throughout the year. Apply another layer of mulch in late fall after cutting back the foliage. Cover the tulip plant bed completely to protect the bulbs during the cold winter months.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid watering from above the plant to prevent disease and fungus on the foliage.

Things You'll Need

  • Bone meal
  • Mulch
  • Clippers


  • National Gardening Association: Tulip
  • Pella Historical Village: Tulip Care and Planting Guide
Keywords: caring for tulips, grow tulip plant, care of tulips

About this Author

Residing in Southern Oregon, Amy Madtson has been writing for Demand Studios since 2008 with a focus on health, pregnancy, crafts and gardening. Her work has been published on websites such as eHow and Garden Guides, among others. Madtson has been a childbirth educator and doula since 1993.