How to Plan and Successfully Grow Your Tulip Garden

by Rob Young


Every spring if you walk down past your neighbor's gardens for a stroll in the park, what do you inevitably see, both in the gardens and the park... beautiful displays of tulips. Gardens full of delight!

Tulip gardens are easy to create because apart their stunning beauty they are readily available, cheap and have a wide range of colors and forms. Most garden outlets and bulb catalogs sell the large-flowered garden tulips in packets of mixed colors according to group or in packets of named individual varieties. The large-flowered garden tulips are just made for use as bedding plants - they combine really well with forget-me-nots and wallflowers. They also can be used to great effect planted in scattered clumps among perennials or other bulbs. The smaller species tulips have a less choice of colors than the garden tulips, but they have a more delicate form and are ideal for rockeries and container gardens, or the front of borders.

The requirements for successfully growing tulips are:

  • choosing large healthy looking bulbs
  • have well drained alkaline soil
  • plant in a sunny spot

The soil must be well drained and preferably alkaline; if it's acid apply lime just before planting. Now's also the time to add a fertilizer which releases it's nutrients steadily to the soil and provide long lasting feed for the bulbs.

The bulbs of garden tulips and the Fosteriana and Greigii hybrids are best used as bedding plants or as group plantings in borders. Plant in early winter-if they're put in the ground any sooner any early growth could get frost damage. Dead-head as the first petals fall, leaving the stems and leaves intact to feed the bulb. It's best to lift the bulbs when the leaves start turning yellow, but if the site is needed for summer bedding, lift the tulips earlier, replant them in a spare corner, and lift again when the leaves have died down. Place the plants in shallow boxes and store in a dry shed.

Plant the bulbs of species and Kaufmanniana hybrid tulips in early winter, in well-drained soil in a south-facing position, sheltered from strong winds. After flowering, remove the leaves and stems as they die. Leave the bulbs in the ground and keep the area free of weeds.

Basically that's it...just remember the main 3 points

  • choose large healthy looking bulbs
  • have well drained alkaline soil
  • plant in a sunny spot

and lift and store all bulbs except the species and Kaufmanniana hybrids.

In spring you'll be pleasantly surprised at the colorful show they provide for such little work and moreover you'll have created a beautiful tulip garden of your own. You can find more detailed information about planting your tulip garden at

Rob Young

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