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How to Plant Tulips Outside After They Bloom in Pots

By Amma Marfo ; Updated September 21, 2017
Tulip blooms signal spring is on its way.
pink tulip image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com

Beautiful tulips have a variety of bloom colors and put on a lush spring show in your yard. When you buy tulips, or are gifted them, it is nice to see them bloom in the pots they are in, but shortly after you’ll want to plant the tulips outside so you can enjoy them every year. You’ll need to let the foliage die back naturally before you can plant the tulips in the ground.

Stop regular watering as you notice the plant dying back and the leaves turning yellow, called ripening. Let the soil dry in the pot.

Remove the tulip bulbs from the pot and pull off any remaining yellow and dry leaves by pulling them off or clipping them with scissors. Separate the bulbs if multiple bulbs were in the pot together.

Dig a hole in an area of full sun that is three to four times deeper than the height of the bulb. Typically, 6 inches deep is sufficient. Space each bulb hole 4 to 6 inches apart.

Plant a bulb into each hole with the pointed end of the bulb facing up and cover over with soil. Water the tulips well after you have planted them all.

Look for foliage to appear the following spring as temperatures warm. Fertilize the plants with an all-purpose fertilizer following the manufacturer’s instructions or spread compost over the surface of the soil.


Things You Will Need

  • Potted tulips
  • Scissors, if needed
  • Hand trowel or bulb digger
  • Water
  • Tape measure, if desired
  • All-purpose fertilizer or compost


  • Your tulips may not bloom the first year after planting as they become established. As long as you see leaves, you should assume flowers will come in the second spring.
  • If your soil is sandy or has a clay consistency, replace half of it with compost before filling in the holes over the bulbs.