The Q&A Archives: Showwinner Tulips Planting Depth

Question: I purchased bulbs, the Red & White collection of bulbs from Burpee - # F-79004C which includes Red Showwinner Tulips (#71126) and White Crocus bulbs (#71118). I would like to know the planting depth for the Showwinner Tulips. Since the Showinners grow to only 8" in height should I still plant them 6-12" deep? Why such a range for planting depth for Tulips? Also, on the bag is printed the bulb size which is listed as 11/12. What does this mean and can I use this information in the future to determine planting depth? I have already planted 2 beds with the base of the Showinners at 12 inches deep. Will they still bloom or should I dig them up and replant?

Answer: In my experience your bulbs should be fine. As a rule of thumb all tulips, regardless of ultimate size, should be planted in a hole dug deep enough to put soil over it to a depth of about two and a half times the height of the bulb itself. So a three inch tall bulb would ideally have seven or eight inches of soil over top of its nose. By adding in the height of the bulb and loosening the soil a bit beneath it to enhance rooting ease, your hole could well be about twelve inches deep. Planting this deep does not cause problems, in fact it can help the bulb last a year or two longer in the garden. Planting a bit shallower is also okay -- I think most people tend to give give up on the digging and end up with only about four to six inches of soil atop the bulbs. An inch or two of mulch over the soil surface can also be used and will help moderate swings in soil temperature. This is especially important if the bulbs are planted at the shallow end of the range. To be honest the numbers on the bag must be some kind of coding but I have no idea what they might represent. I would follow the planting instructions rather than trying to second guess things.

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