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How to Plant Tulips in 6 Easy Steps
There are tons of articles on this topic, so I’ve decided to refrain from repeating myself as much as possible and offer straightforward suggestions that people tend to overlook when planting tulips. This article will serve as a good guide for amateurs. I have used unanswered questions from various chat forums to provide a meaningful article that I hope will help answer your questions as well.
Step 1: Determine your climate zone.
To plant tulips, it is imperative that you understand the climate zone in which you are located. For this there are standard USDA climate hardiness zones defined and developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and later adopted elsewhere. The first step is to locate your zone, which you can do here –
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardiness_zone. Then, here’s a general idea of when to plant tulips based on your climate zone:
For zones 4 and 5: September or early October.
For zones 6 and 7: from October to the beginning of November.
For zones 8 and 9: from November to the beginning of December.
For zone 10: from the end of December to the beginning of January.
For zones 8 through 10, it’s always a good idea to chill tulip bulbs six to eight weeks before planting. (more on that in the upcoming steps).
Step 2: Decide which tulips you want to grow.
Choosing which tulips to grow depends on where you live (check your zone), where you plant (again zone dependent) and the desired effect.
Two common ways to group tulips are by bloom time and flower height. Choose varieties with different flowering times to extend the flowering season.
Since this article is about “How” to plant tulips, not “Which” tulips to plant, use your best judgment and your own preferences to choose tulip varieties.
Step 3: Choose the right tulip bulbs for the plantation.
Choosing the right tulip bulbs that won’t disappoint you is a bit technical, but with care even amateurs can pick the right ones.
All you need to do is make sure that the bulbs are large in size, with no cracks or signs of rotting on the outside of the bulb. The bigger the bulb, the bigger and better the flower you will get
Choose only bulbs that are firm and without defects such as cuts, bruises or mold. If buying later in the season, be careful with store-bought bulbs. It is recommended that you base your purchasing decision on the cultivar or species name rather than the color. For example, “yellow tulips” can mean different types of different performances. Or you can get a mix of colors.
Also note that sometimes you may notice an amber gel-like substance called gumma on tulip bulbs. It is not harmful, so it affects the operation of the bulbs. So don’t worry about it.
Step 4: Choosing the right place to plant and preparing the soil for planting tulips.
Tulips grow best in full sun. These plants prefer sandy soil that is well drained. Make sure that the water does not collect and that the place is not prone to late frosts.
Soil 6 inches deep with a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower is best for planting tulips.
To plant tulips you need the following:
– Light bulbs
– A shovel
– Fertilizer for bulbs
Using your shovel, dig up the soil to 6 inches and make a level base.
If the soil is light or sandy, dig another 2 inches. Now, using a spade, plant the tulip bulbs, one at a time with the pointed end facing up. Space individual bulbs about 4-5 inches apart. Larger bulbs should be spaced more apart (5-6 inches) than smaller bulbs (2-3 inches). The most important thing is to plant them so that the flower part faces the sun.
You have to remember that the bulbs are the food source for the flower and they start to grow in the wrong direction if they are turned the wrong way. Needless to say, they would waste precious energy and food trying to find the sun.
Step 5: Add fertilizer and cover
Fertilizer for tulips is nothing but compost, peat moss, bone meal. They are used to stimulate growth. If you are using a low-nitrogen granular fertilizer specially formulated for bulbs, follow the label directions for the amount to apply.
Firm the soil with a shovel and water thoroughly.
Step 6: Aftercare
Apply straw mulch about a month after planting. This gives the bulbs time to start growing before the ground freezes solid.
Other things to note:
– Do not water the tulip beds as most varieties prefer to stay dry in summer and keep the beds weeded. Do not remove the leaves until they are completely yellow.
– Watch out for aphid attacks, which are often recognized by the stripes on the flowers, aphids can permanently damage tulips and can spread throughout the flower bed. Pick off any infected tulips.
– Cut flowers before or as soon as they begin to fade to ensure healthy growth next season.
– If you want to freeze tulip bulbs before planting, place them in a paper bag away from the ripening fruit (the fruit produces ethylene gas which destroys the flower bud inside the bulb).
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