Hannah Holman 28th November 2017

Planting Tulip Bulbs

Planting Tulip Bulbs

Plant your tulip bulbs in autumn in preparation for a beautiful display in the spring. The whole family can get involved with planting and you will have buckets of cut flowers come spring time!

The best time for planting tulip bulbs is October, November and even December, when cold temperatures have already wiped out any fungal diseases which may be lurking in your soil.

When choosing your bulbs, limit yourself to three or four varieties, in colours and sizes which complement each other. Try to avoid planting in circular blobs or straight lines and mix up varieties to give a natural look. Do this by dropping the bulbs from waist height and simply planting them where they fall.

If you garden on heavy soil, you can incorporate some horticultural grit to improve drainage. Your tulip bulbs should be planted pointy end up, at least 2 times as deep as the bulb itself and around 8cm apart, though some people may prefer to plant deeper.

When planted in shallow soil the bulbs tend to reproduce, with the mother bulb putting all of her energy into producing offspring. These bulbils will be too small to flower for a couple of years, but will be plentiful when they do. By planting deeper, the bulbs are less likely to try to reproduce and more likely to flower year on year. The ideal depth of planting is really at your own discretion.

If you are planting in pots, make sure to use a well-drained compost and use plenty of crocks in the bottom of the pot. To get a dense display, you may want to use what the Dutch call a ‘bulb lasagne’. Layer the bulbs by planting the largest and fastest growing in deepest, moving to the smallest and earliest on top. Cover the first layer of bulbs with 5cm of potting compost before you place the next layer on top. The first shoots of the lower bulbs will bend around any obstacles sitting above them.

Once your tulips have finished blooming, you should leave any browning foliage until the leaf has died right down in early summer, but remove any deadheads so the tulip doesn’t waste energy on producing seed. Doing this will allow the bulb to store more food in preparation for the following years flower. You can either lift bulbs and replant them again in your autumn border or container, or leave them where they are and just add fresh compost in autumn!


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