After a long cold Northern Virginia winter, nothing signals spring like a brightly blooming tulip. In Washington D.C., the tulips normally bloom April through May.
Plant tulip bulbs when the soil reaches temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which generally is between October and early November, according to the National Gardening Association.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones take into account the average low temperatures in an area. Because the hardiness zone may be affected by your nearness to the ocean or mountain areas, check with a local nursery to determine if your area of Northern Virginia is zone 6 or 7, or put your zip code into the finder provided by Van Bourgondien (See Resources).
Plant the bulbs root side down about 6 inches deep. Gardeners in zone 6 should top the soil with mulch or straw one month after planting, to protect the bulbs from extreme cold.
Plant tulips along side other bulbs that will bloom at various points in the season, according to the National Gardening Association. Position shorter bulbs in front of taller tulips.