The Q&A Archives: Planting Tulips

Question: I'd like to know what month to plant tulips in northern California for fall planting? Also, they will be planted in rows in flowering beds, so how offten do they need to be watered during this dormant stage? How much watering in spring?

Answer: If you live in the mild-winter areas of the West, plant "mild-winter" tulips that thrive in zones 8 through 10: the lady tulip (T. clusiana), the Candia tulip (T. saxatilis), and the Florentine tulip (T. sylvestris). These tulips do not need chilling before planting in these regions. Buy these three types of species tulips in the fall, plant them in a cool, shaded location, and forget them. They'll flower in spring and likely for many springs to come.

Tulips are really easy to grow! Plant as soon as you can purchase the bulbs. Choose a sunny or partly shady spot to plant your bulbs. Spread 2-3 inches of organic matter over the bed and dig it in to a depth of 8-10 inches. Tulip bulbs should be planted about 2 1/2 times the diameter of the bulb, and spaced 4-6 inches apart. So, if the bulb is two inches wide, plant it about five inches deep. You can add a little bulb food or bonemeal to the hole prior to planting the bulb, and then add a layer of mulch to the top of the bed after all the bulbs are planted. Mulch material will help hold down the weeds. Then just wait for spring and the beautiful flowers your new bulbs will produce.

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