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How to Grow Tulips

Tulips, popular flower bulbs from Turkey, welcome spring around the world. More diverse, versatile, and vigorous than gardeners realize, these members of the lily family can be early, late, fragrant, fringed, ruffled, striped, double, lily-shaped, multicolored, festive, formal, and from 4 to 30 inches. large.

When and where to plant tulips
Tulip bulbs are planted in fall in USDA hardiness zones 7 and below. In zone 8 and higher, plant bulbs for spring flowering in late December or January, provided the bulbs have been chilled to 40-45°F (a refrigerator works well) for 10 weeks prior to planting.

Light: Tulips do best in full sun in the north and partial shade in the south.

Soil: Plant tulip bulbs with the pointed end in well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 7. Add compost to improve sandy soil and poorly drained loamy soil.

Spacing: Plant the bulbs 4-6 inches apart.

Planting: The rule of thumb is to plant bulbs three times as deep as the bulb length. Traditionally, tulips are planted 6-8 inches deep. Those who prefer a deep planting at 12″ claim that it is less likely to sprout in the fall, be damaged by cold air and soil, be lifted by freezes and thaws, or be eaten by animals. Southern gardeners may prefer to plant their bulbs at a shallower depth to take advantage of the cool air that occurs closer to the soil surface.