There’s no denying that tulips are one of the most popular spring-flowering bulbs! Tulips are reliable and winter hardy bulbs that do well in cold, harsh climates, like Canada. While tulips are considered perennials, they are often treated as annuals in North America. These beauties, which come in a rainbow of colours and variety of forms, are garden showstoppers, especially when planted in masses.
So if you want beautiful colour in your garden next spring, late fall (before the ground freezes) is the best time to plant your tulip bulbs. Canadian gardeners plant tulips from late September to late October. Once the temperatures are consistently below 10-13 ºC (50-55 ºF), the soil is optimal for planting. Tulips generally need 10-12 weeks of winter chill before they will bloom. This is one of the reasons why tulips do best in places with dry summers and cold winters.
Look for tulip bulbs at your local garden center in the fall.Choose firm, plump bulbs. Avoid bulbs that have soft spots, bruises or blemishes. Healthy tulip bulbs should feel heavy for their size. The bigger, the better. Purchase a mix of colours and heights to add visual interest to your garden. To extend the blooming period, choose a variety of bulbs with different bloom times. If you aren’t planting your bulbs immediately, store bulbs in a cool, dry place.
Here is a beginner’s guide on how to plant tulips:
- Choose a spot where tulips can receive full sun or bright light in the spring. Remove any weeds and debris from the area.
- Tulips require well-drained soil, preferably sandy. Add compost or sand to amend soil, if necessary. Bulbs hate wet feet (which leads to root rot), so good drainage is essential!
- Dig a hole in the soil that is 3 times the height of the bulb and loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole to allow new roots to develop freely. Add some bone meal to give the bulbs enough nutrients.
- Plant your tulips with the pointy side up. To avoid overcrowding, space bulbs about 4-6 inches apart.
- Cover the bulbs with soil and water thoroughly.
- Tulips look best planted in groups. Plant in clusters of 7-15 bulbs.
- First year bulbs don’t need fertilizer. But if you plan on growing tulips as perennials, it’s a good idea to fertilize them with a slow-release fertilizer or well-rotted manure in the fall.
Climate Zones: 3-8
- Best Bulbs to Plant in the Fall (funflowerfacts.com)
- Tulips (growerdirect.com)
- A Romantic Marriage Proposal with 250 Tulips (growerdirect.com)
- Tesselaar Tulip Festival (growerdirect.com)
- Canadian Tulip Festival (growerdirect.com)
- Do You Have Change for a Tulip? (funflowerfacts.com)
- Parrot Tulips (funflowerfacts.com)
- Tulip Crafts (funflowerfacts.com)