Tulips are a beautiful addition to any garden and some of the earliest flowers to bloom in the Spring! Over the years breeders have created so many unique varieties that work well not only in your landscape but also for creating unique spring flower bouquets.
Regardless whether you are growing tulips to decorate your yard or for bouquets they need one thing to bloom properly in the Spring.
Tulips require an annual warm-cool-warm temperature sequence. In the field, this begins with warm summer temperatures, with winter and spring completing the sequence. The most important part is the cool sequence. The cool treatment should be at least 10-12 weeks long at temperatures below 45F.
So When Should You Plant Tulips for your Area?
In most area of the country, non-precooled bulbs should be planted in the fall.
In the South (Zone 6 and 7b, e.g. north Georgia), plant in October to November.
In the North (Zone 6 and lower) in September and early October.
In the Deep South (e.g. Florida, south Texas, and So Cal), bulbs must be precooled (8-10 weeks at 40-45F, 4-7C) and planted in late November thru December (*Armitage and Lauchman - “Specialty Cut Flowers”).
Tulips will start blooming when the Spring temperatures reach around 65-68 F degrees.
If you live in an area with a ‘short Spring’ where temperatures rise quickly, you will experience a shorter bloom window. Whereas areas with less variation in temperatures (like the Pacific Northwest) will have a longer blooming / harvest season.
The cold is also necessary for stem length. The warmer your winters, the shorter the stems will be.
I’ve planted Tulips as late as December here in Washington State and had beautiful flowers in April the following year. We had an especially cold winter that year which produced extra long stems.
So to get the best Tulip blooms, make sure that you live in a climate that gets cold enough in the winter for the bulbs to go thru a chilling period or order pre-chilled bulbs.
Growing Tulips in Crates
This year we are planting Tulips in crates to save space on the farm. This is a quick and easy solution when you are trying to save on time prepping beds and or need the beds for cold hardy annuals.
The crates save precious space in the garden because they can be placed anywhere and then removed easily after harvest. Since we pull our bulbs when we harvest flowers (for stem length) the bulbs are composted (not replanted). The loose soil in the crates makes pulling the bulbs easy and quick.
Our bulbs get shipped from the supplier in these crates. I simply put a layer of craft paper on the bottom then fill ⅓ full with compost, layer the bulbs on top and top off with compost again. Tulip bulbs are laid out like eggs in an carton, just enough space not to touch. This forces the plants to grow taller as they compete for the light.
I'd love to know what's your biggest struggle with growing flowers? Leave me a comment below!
Learn more about How to Grow Tulips here.