Tulip Bulb Refrigerator Planting Techniques

Tulip bulbs in bloom image by John O'Neill, 2005


Tulips are one of the most dramatic and beloved of the spring flowers. They do, however, require at least 8 weeks of cold temperatures below 35 to 40 degrees, in order to trigger their break from dormancy and set their bloom. In climates where the outdoor temperatures do not naturally go this low or where outdoor garden space is unavailable, you can replicate the cold setting process in your refrigerator and force their bloom in the winter and spring.

Plant Bulbs

Use a relatively wide and shallow bulb pan or container that is tall enough to cover your tulip bulbs with at least 6 inches of soil over their tops. Fill the pot with 2 to 3 inches of rich, well-drained soil. Arrange the tulip bulbs in a single layer, covering the surface of the pan with the bulbs lined up shoulder to shoulder. Make sure that the flattish root is facing directly down and the slight crown facing up. Cover over with 6 inches of soil and tamp down gently to compact. Lay over that a loose covering of wax paper or parchment, just to protect the soil, but avoid tightly sealed plastic wrap, as it can impede air flow too much.

Cold Store Your Bulb Pot

Place the container potted with bulbs into the bottom of your refrigerator---a crisper drawer or lower shelf are both fine. Leave undisturbed for at least 8 weeks. Remove the pot when you want to commence the growing period. If you want the tulips blooming at a fixed date on the calendar, remove them from the cold at least 7 weeks ahead of that date.

Prepare for Bloom

Place the pot in a bright, sunny location and water it well, keeping the soil consistently moist but not wet. Apply a water-soluble, general-purpose liquid fertilizer to the soil once the green leaves begin to break through the soil and develop.

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.

Photo by: John O'Neill, 2005

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