Flower & Plant Care

Tulips: How and When You Should Plant Tulip Bulbs

March 28, 2016

If there’s one way to know that Spring has finally arrived, it’s by the amazing blooming tulips you can find in your garden, your neighbor’s garden, or even the landscaping of commercial properties in your community. In fact, some people even believe that Spring doesn’t officially begin until the first tulip pops out of the ground. But regardless of how you associate them with the Spring season, one thing’s for sure – tulips are one of the most beautiful flowers you’ll see all season long.

Now, we know what you might be thinking – for tulips to thrive in Spring the way they usually do, when do they originally need to be planted? Let’s find out.

Colorful Cut Spring Tulip Flowers and Flower Shears

When To Plant Tulip Bulbs

If you want to see your tulip bulbs start to peek through your soil right when the weather starts to warm up, the key is to plant them during the Fall months. Specifically, aim for planting about 6 weeks before the ground begins to harden and frost over. For those of you who live in New York (that’s where we’re headquartered!), use the following zone guide to help you figure out when you should start to plant:

  • Individuals in Zones 4 and 5 should plant their bulbs in late September or early October.
  • Individuals in Zone 6 should plant their bulbs by the middle of October.
  • Individuals in Zone 7 should plant their bulbs by early November.

Of course if you live in an even warmer climate, you may even be safe waiting until December. For more details about plant hardiness zones (which are there to help you determine when plants will thrive in your region), including a map to help you find yours by state, click here.

When planting tulip bulbs, one of the most important things to remember is that they need enough time to get settled in your soil, so you’ll need to plan carefully to make sure you plant them right on schedule. But don’t get ahead of yourself and plant too early! If you try to speed things up, your bulbs could actually fall victim to disease.

Gardening gloved hands holding tulip bulbs before planting in the ground

How To Plant Tulip Bulbs

Before you head outdoors, there are a few important things to know about the planting process:

  1. You need to take some time to prepare the soil before sticking anything in the ground. In order for your bulbs to survive and thrive, choose an area that has good soil drainage.
  2. Be sure to add some bulb fertilizer into the soil in order to help them grow.
  3. Aim to plant your bulbs about two or three times as deep as they are tall, and remember to plant them right side up.
  4. Once the bulbs have been planted, be sure to water them to help settle the soil. However, be careful about how much water you do provide, since overwatering in the Fall could bring disappointing results in the Spring.
  5. Finally, add some mulch to the top of the soil (about two or three inches worth) after planting to help maintain the conditions your bulbs need to start rooting and growing.

With the first day of Spring just a few weeks away now, are you getting excited to see the first sign of these blooming beauties? We know we are, and the best part is, if you care for them right this time around, they’ll be back next Spring looking as good as ever all over again!