Tulips are very popular flowers everywhere. Just the thought of tulips conjures up thoughts of spring, warmer weather and beautiful colors. The problem with growing tulips in Florida is that the bulbs need to go through a cold season before they will sprout, and most of Florida doesn’t have a cold season. This doesn’t mean Floridians can’t enjoy the wonderful flowers, though; it just takes an extra step. In most areas of south Florida, tulips are considered annuals instead of perennials because they don’t survive through the long hot summers.
Place the bulbs in a paper bag and refrigerate for 6 to 8 weeks, keeping the bulbs away from stored fruits and vegetables. Paper allows air circulation better than plastic and helps to fight mildew on the bulb. Ripening fruits and vegetables emit ethylene gas that can kill the bulb's bud.
Dig holes twice as wide as the bulbs and 6 inches deep in early January in a location that has morning sun and afternoon shade. The holes should be spaced about 5 inches apart in every direction.
Amend the dug out soil with a handful of compost to help with drainage. Tulip bulbs do not like to sit in water and will rot if the soil does not drain well.
Place the bulbs from the refrigerator into the holes with the points of the bulbs facing up and fill around the bulbs with the amended soil. Press the soil down tightly.
Place fertilizer made for bulbs directly onto the soil and apply enough water to allow the fertilizer to absorb into the soil. Follow the manufacturer's directions for the amount of fertilizer. Do not put fertilizer in the holes as it will burn the bulbs' roots when they start to grow.
Place 2 inches of clean straw mulch over the bulbs after a frost or when the ground gets cold enough to keep the bulbs cool until they start to sprout. Remove the mulch when the ground starts to warm.