Thursday, November 3, 2011


Successful tulips in the spring depend on proper planting in the fall.  Here are some helpful tips:

  • WHEN?  In the fall months, preferably before Thanksgiving, is best.  By planting in November, a good root system can get established before the colder winter weather arrives.  However, you can plant them later--just make sure you plant them!
  • HOW DEEP?  Tulips like to be planted deep--depending on their size--but 4-6" in the northwest will help them withstand cold temperatures.  If you're planting in containers, protect them with a generous layer of leaves, mulch, pine needles, or straw.
  • SHOULD I FERTILIZE?:  It's ideal if you can fertilize at the time of planting.  You can use a good bulb fertilizer, or a balanced flower fertilizer; I like 5-10-10.  I also use bone meal mixed with the soil.  I fertilize every year for maximum vigor.
  • HOW FAR APART?  It depends on you and the look you want.  I personally plant mine a little close, about 3" apart, in groups of 3, 5, 7 or 9.  
  • ANY DISEASES OR PESTS?  Squirrels love bulbs.  After they bloom, snails and slugs like to feed on their foliage, as well as deer.  You can use cages to plant them in, or in protected spots.  In spring, use a slug and snail bait.
  • CARE AFTER BLOOMING?  After the flower is through blooming, deadhead, keeping foliage until it yellows completely.  This is what feeds the bulbs for the next year's bloom.  Planting them with other spring plants or low growing shrubs will allow the foliage to be visually hidden.
  • MORE FERTILIZER?  Right after the bulbs bloom, its a good time to fertilize.  They need nitrogen at this point, setting their flowers for next year.  You can use granular and scratch it into the soil, or water in a liquid solution.  NOTE:  Don't wait too long to apply this--once the foliage yellows, it's too late because the bulb is dormant.
  • DO I DIG THEM?  You don't have to dig tulips every year--in fact, they like to be left alone. Most varieties won't be as big the 2nd or 3rd years, as they divide into many smaller bulbs, and it takes  a year or two for them to increase in size.  If they become crowded, dig and replant the largest ones.  This can be done in mid summer, or you can dig and wait until fall and plant them.  Sometimes it's also beneficial to dig and move them to another area if they've been growing in one spot for a long time.

Susanne Holland Spicker Mother, Grandmother, Homemaker, Gardener, Teacher, Photographer

Passion is defined as the love of, or the object(s) of affection and emotion. I am passionate about family, friends, flowers, food, photography and fabulous music! This blog is dedicated to those loves.

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