How to Grow Tulip Bulbs

Plant tulips in large groupings for the most visual impact. image by Tudou Mao/


Tulips are spring bulbs, and they are planted in autumn. They require winter cold to go dormant and prepare for spring blooming. Available in many colors, including a black and bicolor varieties, tulips are one of the first flowers of spring. They carry the most visual punch when grouped in beds or in edgings and borders. Plant early bloomers and late bloomers together to extend blooming throughout spring.

Step 1

Choose large bulbs for larger flowers. Check bulbs for any signs of rot or damage and purchase only those that appear firm and healthy.

Step 2

Plant bulbs when the ground temperature is 60F degrees or colder. This could be between September and early November, depending on your local climate.

Step 3

Prepare your planting bed in a well-drained area with full sun. Improve drainage by working compost or peat moss into the soil to build up the bed area 3 inches.

Step 4

Dig planting holes deep enough so the point of the tulip bulb (the top) is 4 to 6 inches below the soil surface. Space holes 6 to 8 inches apart.

Step 5

Sprinkle bulb fertilizer into the bottom of the hole. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointed end up, and then refill the hole with soil.

Step 6

Water the planting area. After the ground has begun freeze, add a 4-inch layer of straw mulch over the bed.

Step 7

Fertilize a second time in spring, once the tulips begin blooming. Keep the soil moist but not soaking wet during blooming season, until the leaves die back naturally.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never cut down foliage until it has yellowed and died back completely. Deer and other animals like to dig up and eat tulip bulbs. Place bulbs in growing cages, available from garden centers, before planting if this is an issue.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Trowel
  • Fertilizer
  • Straw mulch


  • Dutch Gardens
  • Gardening With Kids

Who Can Help

  • Introduction to tulip varieties
Keywords: growing tulips, spring bulbs, bulb gardens

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.

Photo by: Tudou Mao/