top of page
  • Writer's pictureMichelle Gonzales

Growing & Harvesting Tulips

You are probably wondering why we are talking about Tulips during the fall when they are spring flowers. That is exactly why! In order to get all those beautiful blooms and crops filled with Tulips for spring, you need to put in all the hard work during the fall. Tulips are a cool-season bloom, meaning you plant during the fall and harvest during the spring!

Media Courtesy of Unsplash

Because of all the different groups and varieties of Tulips, they are the most popular among the cut flowers. Not only do they come in an array of colors, but they vary in stem type, petal type, and some even give off a subtle aroma.

There are six different groups of Tulips, but the varieties between all groups are endless! The different groups are:

  • Double Flowered (also known as Peonie Tulips)

  • Double Flowered Fringe

  • Fringe

  • Parrot

  • Lilly Flowered

  • Single (these are your standard tulips)

My personal favorite groups of Tulips are the Fringe and Standard! My absolute favorite variety outside your Standard Tulip is Cummins.

Media Courtesy of Unsplash

Planting Your Tulips

Step 1: I recommend marking your beds with a string line. Using a string line will allow you to get nice, long, straight, and even rows which will make a really big difference when it comes to weeding in the spring. This isn't something I thought about until I took one of Floret's Fall Mini-Courses and it makes a world of a difference.

Step 2: Dig out a 3 ft wide by 6-inch deep trench of soil. When digging, toss your soil to one side. It’s really important that you put the soil on one side of your bed so when you need to put it back into the bed, it’s really easy and you haven’t stepped all over the loose soil. Making your trenches 3 ft wide makes picking really easy so that they are in long, narrow, straight rows.

Step 3: Pour your loose bulbs into your trench and even them out. You’re going to want to place them where the pointy end is facing upwards and are really close together. They should end up looking like eggs in a carton (a perfect description given by Erin at Floret). You want them to be really close so they are almost touching but not.

Make sure to label each variety using a wooden flat stake you can write on. Place them in front of each section that starts a new variety. This is a really important step, and easily forgettable for those who want to know what varieties are in their garden. This is a must for those selling their cut flowers.

Step 4: Cover back up your Tulip bulbs that are now in place with the soil you put on the side of the trench. Just shovel the soil onto the bulbs.

Step 5: Rake the soil from the outside of the trench inward (be sure to rake both sides of the trench). This should create a small mound over the top of the trench in the middle. You are now done planting!

Media Courtesy of Unsplash

Growing Your Tulips

Tulips are one of the easiest flowers to grow, however, they do require six weeks of cold weather. If you live in an area that does not receive cold winters (those that live in the southern states), make sure that when purchasing bulbs you are purchasing pre-chilled bulbs. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!

You also want to make sure your soil is free of draining. Standing water in soils that are heavy (soils that hold water as opposed to draining the water) causes the bulbs to rot. You also want to make sure you are planting in an area that will receive full sun.

Harvesting Your Tulips

You can pick them as open as you would like, but for the longest vase life, you are going to want to pick them more closed. Not when they are closed and still green, which is too young, but when they are just starting to open and show some color.

Harvesting if you want them to come back next year: When snipping, make sure to leave some foliage that is attached to the bulb. You will need to leave two leaves attached to the stem. Count upwards from the soil level.

Harvesting to get the longest stems and vase life (this requires you to replant bulbs every year): Go down to the soil line and gently wiggle out the entire plant with the bulb attached. By leaving the bulb attached (it is the food source for the flower), you have a much longer stem (about 8 more inches) and this also allows you to store them for longer periods of time. Tulips can be successfully stored for up to 2 weeks with the bulbs still attached to the flower. After 2 weeks the vase life is going to get really short. Be sure to store it in a cool area such as the bottom of your refrigerator. Not the top, it’s too cold.

To remove the bulbs, cut right above them. You want to save as much stem as possible. The bulbs are great for your compost! You cannot cut off the bulb and replant it because it does not have foliage attached. If you replant the bulbs, the foliage will grow, but you will not produce a flower.

Make sure to wrap a bundle of the tulips in paper at the top (like putting it into a sleeve) nice and snug. This keeps the stems strong so they can stand straight up and not bend over when you use them for market bouquets.

14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page