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The Best Time to Plant Tulips for a Picture-Perfect Garden

when to plant tulips
Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Esther Gorlee

Along with daffodils, tulips are the ultimate sign of spring. Learn when to plant tulips so you can enjoy the bright pops of color in your own yard.

Tulips are native to Central Asia but are commonly cultivated all over the world. The Netherlands is the most famous grower of these flowers commercially, and over 7 million flowers bloom in the Keukenhof each spring. They belong to the Liliaceae family which also includes onions, garlic, and asparagus — tulips are actually edible flowers, as you can eat their petals. 

Home gardeners may be overwhelmed when it comes to choosing which tulips to plant. There are over 150 species to choose from with over 3,000 different varieties — the possibilities are vast. It’s best to pick bulbs that are available locally so you can support local businesses and avoid long transport routes for imported bulbs.

Tulips provide resources for pollinators as they’re some of the earlier bloomers in the spring. If you’ve got your bulbs picked out and are wondering when to plant tulips, we’ve got you covered. 

When to Plant Tulips

Remember to plant tulip bulbs with the pointy side face up.
Remember to plant tulip bulbs with the pointy side face up.
(Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Vincent Wachowiak )

Want to know when to plant tulip bulbs? Most bright and showy spring flowers such as tulips, allium, daffodils, snowdrops, and crocuses are planted in the fall. This allows the plants to use the cold winters to develop their root systems so they’re mature enough to bloom once the temperatures start to warm up. 

The rough guideline is to plant tulips 6–8 weeks before the ground is expected to freeze – generally when the average overnight temperatures fall between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This ranges significantly depending on the part of the country you live in, so it’s best to use your growing zone as a guide to figure out which month to plant tulip bulbs. 

  • Zones 3-5: September 
  • Zones 6-7: October
  • Zones 8-9: November or December 

Utopia’s Tip: Plant a wide variety of tulip bulbs with differing bloom times so you can enjoy the color in your garden from early to late spring. 

Planting Tulips: Best Practices

Learn when to plant tulips to enjoy a magical garden scene in the spring.
Learn when to plant tulips to enjoy a magical garden scene in the spring.
(Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / krystina rogers)

Once you know when to plant tulip bulbs, it’s important to know how to plant them in order to get the most out of your spring bulbs. 

  • Location: Tulips require well-drained soil as bulbs dislike excessive moisture. 
  • Planting: Ensure you plant the bulbs the correct way. The pointed end of the bulb should be facing up, and they should be planted about 6 to 8 inches deep. 
  • Spacing: The great thing about planting tulip bulbs is that you can’t plant bulbs too close together. For the best show in your garden, plant bulbs so that they’re touching each other. 
  • Watering: Once planted, water the bulbs once a week for the first month or until the ground freezes. You should start again once the leaves start to appear in the spring. 
  • Regrowth: If you want your tulips to grow back again next year, leave the plants alone for about six weeks after flowering so the plant can store up enough energy. After this six-week period is over, cut the stalk of the flower down to the base of the plant. 

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