How to Plant and Pot Tulips


Tulips are one of the first flowers to bloom in spring. Bring their bright colors indoors even sooner by potting the bulbs and forcing them to bloom earlier, in later winter. Planting and growing tulips in pots requires little hands-on time and minimal preparation. Tulips already have all the nutrients they need for a successful bloom stored in the bulb. After they are done blooming, replant the bulbs in the garden bed so they can bloom outside next year and purchase new bulbs to pot and force the following winter.

Step 1

Fill an 8-inch-diameter pot with an inch of gravel or pebbles. Use a short pot or a bulb pot; not much depth is required for bulb planting.

Step 2

Mix together one part sand or vermiculite, one part peat moss, and one part soil. Fill the pot approximately 1/3 full with the soil mixture.

Step 3

Place six to eight tulip bulbs on top of the soil in the pot, spacing them about 1-1/2 inches apart. Set them in the pot so the flat side of the bulb is facing toward the sides of the pot.

Step 4

Add soil mix to the pot until just the tips of the bulbs are visible. Arrange the bulbs until the soil surface is 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the rim of the pot.

Step 5

Water the pot from the top until the water begins to drain from the bottom drainage holes, ensuring the soil is evenly moist throughout. Empty the excess water from the drip tray after watering.

Step 6

Set the tulip pot in a place with a temperature of 35 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit to force dormancy. Place in an empty refrigerator, an unheated basement, or outside near the foundations of your home, and cover the pots in leaf mulch.

Step 7

Bring the pots in to thaw in a room that is 40 degrees Fahrenheit 14 weeks after placing them in the cold. Let them thaw for three days, then place them in a brightly lit window that doesn't receive direct sunlight in a room that is 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 8

Water as needed to keep soil moist but not soggy. Move the pots to your preferred display area once the buds are ready to open.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not place tulip pots in direct sunlight or near areas that receive drafts from heaters or air conditioners.

Things You'll Need

  • Gravel
  • Sand
  • Peat moss
  • Soil


  • University of Missouri Extension: Spring Bulbs for Indoor Blooming
Keywords: planting tulips, potted tulip bulbs, spring flower bulbs

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.