Fall Planting of Tulips


Plant tulip bulbs in fall, and when the weather begins to warm up in spring, you'll be treated to a blaze of color. Tulip bulbs are available in shades of bright, bold hues, delicate pastels, or lively, multi-colored varieties. Purchase tulip bulbs in early September, and store them in your refrigerator until planting time. Tulip bulbs can be planted between September and early December, or about a month before the first expected heavy frost in your area.

Step 1

Purchase tulip bulbs from a garden center or nursery. Look for firm, plump bulbs with no soft spots.

Step 2

Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil to plant the tulips. Use a garden fork or shovel to remove any weeds, rocks and dirt clods, and cultivate the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Work an inch of compost into the top of the soil, along with a handful of fertilizer formulated for bulbs. Apply the fertilizer according to the package directions.

Step 3

Dig a hole with a trowel or bulb planter for each tulip bulb. Plant smaller bulbs, or bulbs that are about an inch in diameter, 1 to 4 inches apart. Larger bulbs should be planted 4 to 8 inches apart. Bulbs should be planted about three times their height, with the pointed end up.

Step 4

Water the tulip bed thoroughly, then spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch over the top of the bed. Bark mulch, pine needles, chopped, dry leaves or straw are all good mulches. If the fall weather is dry, keep the soil moist until the first freeze. Remove the mulch early in the spring so the tulips can freely emerge from the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Tulip bulbs
  • Garden fork or shovel
  • Compost
  • Tulip fertilizer
  • Organic mulch


  • University of Kentucky: Tulips and Their Care
  • GardeningKnowHow.com: Tulips -- Care and Tulip Planting Tips
  • TipNut: How to Plant Tulip Bulbs
Keywords: tulip, tulip bulbs, bulbs

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.