When it comes to planting and growing, a common mistake is to plant cool-climate bulbs too early, when the soil is still too warm so here’s an easy to remember guide to growing them.
How to grow and care for tulips
Spring-flowering tulip bulbs grow best when planted in autumn in cool soil. If you have frosts in April, plant towards the end of March. In frost-free areas, delay planting until late April or May. Some people like to plant their tulips around Mother's Day once the soil has cooled down.
Most flowering bulbs need plenty of sun to do well, but this doesn’t mean baking! Under deciduous trees suits them well, or anywhere receiving at least four hours of direct sun a day.
They prefer average garden soil, which drains freely. If the soil is too sandy and dry, mix compost or rotted cow manure through it a few weeks before planting. If it’s heavy and clay-like, build up a raised bed or grow bulbs in pots.
Keep the soil lightly moist. If you get regular rain in autumn and winter, you may not need to water at all!
After bloom snap off developing seedpods, but leave the flower stem, as the bulb needs the nutrients in the stem. Let the leaves yellow before cutting them away.
After planting, sprinkle a ration of controlled-release fertiliser over the soil and cover lightly with more soil. As soon as flowering finishes, water the leaves of the plants with a soluble fertiliser.
Tulips can be susceptible to several pests and diseases that can affect their growth and overall health. Some common pests that can attack tulips include aphids, snails, spider-mites and caterpillars.
What to do with tulips after they've bloomed
If your tulip bulbs are to be naturalised or lifted and replanted next year, then the leaves need to die off completely. Wait until the foliage has turned yellow, about a month after flowering before pruning.
If you want to lift and replant your bulbs for next year, gently dig them out of the ground or your pot. Remove the foliage and cut the stem. Store in a paper bag in a cool dry place, ready to plant next year.
How hard is it to grow tulips?
Once your tulips are in the ground and growing, they will care for themselves as long as their basic needs are met.
How long do tulip bulbs take to grow
The time it takes for tulips to grow will depend on the variety you have planted, the climate and the growing conditions.
Tulips are a type of bulb plant, which means they have a natural dormancy period where they remain dormant underground before growing and flowering. To ensure that tulips bloom properly, they require a period of cold stratification, which is the process of exposing the bulbs to cold temperatures before planting.
If you live in a warmer zone, it's reocmmened to put your bulbs in a paper bag at the back of your fridge for around six weeks before planting.
Typically, tulips planted in autumn usually start growing in the spring.
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