Tulips herald the beginning of spring.
image by Zoran Petrovic: Sxc.hu
Tulips are bulbed plants that are typically easy to care for and plant. Each spring they begin to bloom, which is a sure sign that the warmer months have arrived. Generally, tulips thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture Zones 3 to 7 but can, with special care, do well in other, more extreme climates.
Plant tulip bulbs right away after purchasing. Plant them 4 to 6 inches deep in well-draining soil. Mix sand, compost or peat moss into the soil before covering the bulbs. This will help with drainage. If you can't plant the bulbs immediately, keep them in a cool, dry location, such as a garage.
Keep your tulip bulbs from freezing. If you live in colder climates, plant them a couple inches deeper than normal. Then, after about 2 inches of ground is frozen, place 4 to 6 inches of hay or straw on top for winter insulation. In extremely frigid environments, you can dig up your tulips before the ground is frozen and keep them in a cool, dry location until you can replant again.
Allow your bulbs to go dormant before planting if you live in warmer climates. Select tulip bulbs that are specific for your climate. If you live in an area that does not have a long cold season, select bulbs such as the Darwin hybrids, which do not need to go dormant for long periods of time during the winter months. If you have "regular" bulbs, prior to planting, chill them in the refrigerator for eight weeks and then plant them 6 to 8 inches underground starting in November. Planting deeper will keep them cooler during the winter to help them go dormant.