Tulips are spring bulbs, and along with daffodils are often the first to flowers to bloom in spring. Unlike other spring bulbs that produce year after year, tulips only bloom well for two to four years. Many gardeners dig up tulip bulbs each year and plant new ones, but if your tulips bloom poorly the first year moving and replanting them may improve blooms for the following year. This allows you to get more life out of your bulbs before you need to replace them.
Allow the tulip blossoms to fade and fall off naturally in mid-spring. Wait six weeks after the final bloom fades before digging and replanting.
Prepare a new tulip bed in well-draining soil and full sun. Apply a 3 inch layer of compost over the garden bed and till it in with a hoe or power tiller to an 8-inch depth.
Dig around the tulip bulbs with your spade, being careful not to hit or nick the bulbs. Slide the spade under the bulbs and lift them out of the soil.
Brush the dirt from each bulb and inspect it for damage or signs of rot such as soft spots. Discard any bulbs that are damaged or appear diseased.
Dig planting holes deep enough so the top of the tulip bulb sits approximately 3 inches beneath the soil surface. Space holes 6 inches apart.
Work 1 tsp. of bulb fertilizer into the bottom of each planting hole. Cover with a fresh layer of soil so the bulb isn't in direct contact with the fertilizer.
Place each bulb in a hole and cover with soil, firming it lightly around the remaining leaves on the tulip. Water the bed thoroughly.
Cover with a 2-inch layer of organic mulch and keep the soil moist until the first frost. Stop watering once the ground begins to freeze.
Things You Will Need
- Hoe or power tiller
- Bulb fertilizer
- A second course of bulb fertilizer in spring just as they begin growing again will help the tulips set buds.
- Deer and squirrels will dig up tulip bulbs and destroy them. If this is an issue plant the bulbs in wire bulb cages, available from garden supply stores.
- Do not remove the tulip foliage until it dies off on its own. The foliage is necessary to replenish the bulb's nutrients for next year's bulbs.