How to care for tulips in the garden

Tulips are easy-to-grow bulbs that are well known all over the world. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, ideal for planting in pots and containers, excellent cut flowers.

Description of tulips

Tulip (Tulipa) belongs to the genus of bulbous perennial plants in the lily family, originally from Central Asia. More than 6,000 varieties differ mainly in shape, color and height. Today, most tulips are grown in the Netherlands – 43% of the world’s tulips!

Almost every color can be found in the tulip family, from vibrant primary colors to pastels, bi-colors and multi-colors. The black tulip is considered the most successful creation of breeders, it was bred in 1986.

Black tulip

The height of tulips varies from 10 to 100 cm. The erect stem has a cylindrical shape. A daughter bulb appears at the bottom of these shoots. The root system of the plant grows from the bottom of the bulbs. These roots die off every year. Lanceolate, alternately arranged leaves, greenish-gray.

As a rule, the plant has 1 flower, but there are species that produce from 3 to 5 or even more flowers. The most common color is red, rarely yellow and very rarely white.

Varietal tulips

Varietal tulips can be painted in various colors, there are many variations of their combinations. The flowers consist of 6 petals, and have a very different shape: goblet, oval, star-shaped. The size of the flowers depends on the variety, and differ not only in color and size, but also in the time of flowering.

The buds open during daylight hours and close in the evening. In cloudy weather, the flowers do not open at all. After the plant withers, a fruit is formed – a box. It has flat seeds inside.

Features of growing tulips

Caring for tulips is not difficult, so any novice grower can handle the task. The place for tulips should be sunny and protected from strong gusts of wind. The soil should be permeable, slightly alkaline or neutral. Sandy loam is ideal, in which rotted compost should be added in spring, as well as wood ash (200 g per 1 m2). If the soil is very heavy, it can be improved. To do this, compost, river sand and nutrient-rich loose earth are added to it. They need a lot of sun to bloom (rarely they grow well under trees). Grows well in pots and containers.

Landing area 

Choose a site for planting on which tulips have not been cultivated for 3 years. Bulbs of the same variety can be planted in the same place only after 6 years. Tulips should not be planted in the same place as daffodils.

Planting tulips. When to plant tulips

It is recommended to plant by variety. In this case, caring for the plants will not be so difficult, and it will be easier to dig up the bulbs. Before direct planting, the bulb should be soaked for half an hour or an hour in a 5% solution of potassium permanganate. Be sure to mulch the surface of the soil. Peat, straw, dry leaves and sawdust are suitable for this.

Without a transplant in one place, tulips are grown for 2-3 years, after which the ripe bulb should be dug up and stored until autumn.

Autumn planting of tulips

Autumn landing 

Fall planting is important because this way these flowers get the so-called cold effect, which is absolutely necessary for their spring flowering. In autumn, it is important to properly plant tulips and provide them with the necessary care so that they successfully overwinter and bloom in spring.

Before planting, it is necessary to conduct a thorough inspection of the bulbs. Those that show signs of any disease or damage are to be destroyed.

Planting bulbs in the ground should be done in the fall. For normal development, it is necessary to plant them in the soil in a timely manner. As a rule, this time falls on the middle of September. It will take at least 3-4 weeks for them to root.

Note! If you plant tulips later, in spring they will grow and develop more slowly, and form very small bulbs, and will bloom less spectacularly. If planted too early, the bulbs may sprout. In this case, the first frost will kill the plants.

Planting tulip bulbs in spring

Bulbs can also be planted in the spring if there was no time for this in the autumn months. However, abundant flowering this year will not be. Before planting, the bulbs must be placed in the refrigerator overnight, and then treated with a weak solution of potassium permanganate (keep for about 30 minutes).

The preparation of the beds should be carried out after the snow cover has melted. It is necessary to dig up the soil and make grooves. To improve drainage, a three-centimeter layer of coarse-grained sand should be poured onto the bottom of the prepared grooves and the grooves should be poured with a solution of potassium permanganate.

For large bulbs, the distance between the grooves is 25-30 cm, and for children – from 10 to 15 cm. Large bulbs should be buried in the ground to a depth of 10 to 15 centimeters, and small ones (kids) – 5-7 cm. Bulbs should be slightly pressed into the ground, then sprinkled with earth and harrowed with a rake. Mulching with peat will help prevent the soil from drying out.

Bulb baskets are designed to make it easier for the gardener to take care of bulbous and tuberous plants.

Baskets for bulbs 

Special openwork containers provide free access to the substrate, water and nutrients. They make planting and digging bulbs easier.

Tulip Care

You need to take care of such flowers from the beginning of spring. After the emergence of seedlings, the plantings are carefully examined. Those bulbs that did not germinate should be carefully dug up and destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease to other plants.


Tulips love moisture. After planting, they are well watered, and after the foliage appears, moisten every 7-10 days, depending on how dry the weather is.

During the period of bud formation and flowering, they should be watered abundantly and systematically. Tulips are very fond of moisture, but its roots are rather short, and therefore the flower is not able to draw water from the deep layers of the soil. Therefore, timely watering is very important. How often and how much to water the plants depends on the composition of the soil. Keep bulbs relatively dry during dormancy.

top dressing

The first time the plants should be fed in early spring, after germination. At this time, you can fertilize with dry manure. Liquid fertilizer is used as soon as buds appear, and after flowering, they are fed with complex fertilizer. A mixture of phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium (2: 2: 1) is suitable as a fertilizer.

Tulip care  

You can understand what kind of fertilizer a plant lacks by its appearance. If it cannot maintain a vertical position, then it needs a nitrogen-containing fertilizer. In order for the plants to grow daughter bulbs more intensively, a small amount of zinc and boron should be poured into the solution.

Additional Information! Tulips are cut back after flowering so that seed production does not take too much energy. You need to dig them up every year after the foliage becomes dry. Sick tulips should be pulled out of the ground along with the bulbs. To disinfect the soil, a solution of potassium permanganate is poured into the hole.

Allow the bulbs to dry in the shade and then store in a cool, dry and ventilated place until planting.

Loosening the soil and removing weeds

Loosen the soil regularly and remove weeds. Weeds take a lot of nutrients from the soil, and the soil is depleted, so you need to try to remove them in a timely manner. It is recommended to carry out such a procedure after watering, since at this time it is easiest to pull out weeds.

Fading flowers are removed in a timely manner. In this case, tulips will not spend energy on the growth and development of seeds, but an increase in the mass of the bulbs will occur.

How to propagate tulips at home

Tulips can be propagated by seeds and bulbs. As a rule, only specialists (breeders) use seeds for propagation, and that’s all, because these types of flowers are not able to preserve the varietal characteristics of the mother plant.

The first flowering of such plants is observed only at the age of 5–6 years. However, it should be noted that the first years of flowering will not be very spectacular. The tulip will bloom very spectacularly only at the age of 8-12 years.

Experienced flower growers recommend propagating tulips with adventitious bulbs. After the end of flowering, the mother tuber dies off, and in its place, daughter bulbs with “kids” develop.

Reproduction by bulbs 

Small bulbs are recommended to be grown to the required size and only then planted on a plot with plants. Peduncles can grow in “children” in a few years.

Pests and diseases

The most dangerous disease is the variegation virus. Infected tulips should be dug out of the ground along with an earthy clod and destroyed.

You can find out that a tulip is infected by a twisted shoot and a flower distorted by stripes. Dark spots also appear on the bulbs. The infected flower must be destroyed. For preventive purposes, healthy tulips are treated with a fungicide solution.

The plant is also susceptible to fungal diseases. So he can become infected with root rot. Plants are especially susceptible to such diseases in the rainy spring period. Whatever the cause of the disease, prevention measures are the same: the soil must be well drained.

After digging up the bulbs in the summer, it is recommended to sow plants that can produce phytoncides, such as marigolds, nasturtium, or mustard. The site should also be filled with a fungicide solution (2 g of the substance per liter of water).

Tulips after flowering

The faded plant is watered for another half a month, then watering is gradually reduced and stopped altogether. When the leaves and stem wilt, the bulbs should be dug up.

Only a few varieties of tulips, whose flowers are red, can be left in the soil for the summer. Thus, if the bulbs are not dug up, the flowers will become smaller, and the stem shorter and thinner. The fact is that every year after flowering, the mother tuber pushes the children up and deepens into the soil.

What time to dig bulbs? The plant without a transplant next year has small flowers, because the babies bloom, and the mother bulb remains “buried”. Accordingly, after the leaves are completely dry, you need to dig the bulb.

How to store tulip bulbs

Must take care of the collection of flower bulbs. If this is not done and the tubers remain in the ground throughout the year, they will sprout every year, but will be much smaller, and eventually there is a good chance that they will completely disappear from the site.

The onion taken out of the ground must be thoroughly washed under running water and set aside for 30 minutes. Place the bulbs in 1 layer in a dry, well-ventilated, dark place with a temperature of 25 to 30 degrees. Bulbs dried for 3-5 days are sent for storage.

Preparing for storage. Remove old roots and scales from the bulbs, separate the children. Sort by size. Check regularly. Soft bulbs with signs of decay are destroyed. Before planting in the fall, the planting material is treated with a solution of potassium permanganate.