Tulips - Knowledgebase Question

mundelein, Il
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Question by sdsharif
September 3, 2010
I want to plant the tulip bulbs. Can you please tell me the specific instructions on how to plant them i.e what type of soil to use? When to plant the bulbs? How deep they should be planted? Do I need to do anything to protect then in winter? Do the bulbs need any plant food?

Answer from NGA
September 3, 2010
Properly preparing the soil for bulb planting is important. Good soil drainage is essential in raising bulbs. If you have a soil with a high clay content, it can be improved by adding compost, peat moss or some other source of organic material. The organic material should be worked in the top twelve inches of soil (eighteen inches is even better).

Both spring and summer bulbs need phosphorous to encourage root development. Mix a small handful of bonemeal or superphosphate into the soil in the lower part of the planting bed prior to planting your bulbs.

The general rule of thumb for planting spring bulbs is to plant two or three times as deep as the bulbs is tall. This means most large bulbs like tulips or daffodils will be planted about 8 inches deep while smaller bulbs will be planted 3-4 inches deep. Planting depth is measured from the bottom of the bulb.

Tulips should be planted with the pointy ende of the bulb upward and the flat root plate downward. The best method of planting is to dig and loosen the entire bed to the proper depth. Press the bulbs into the soil in the planting area and cover with soil. Because the soil in a spaded bed is better drained and prepared, the planting will last longer. This method of planting is preferred over trying to plant bulbs one by one with a bulb planter. In many soils bulb planters do not work well, if at all.

After all the bulbs are planted, water the area well to help settle the soil. The bulb bed should be covered with two or three inches of mulch. Mulch will help minimize temperature fluctuation and maintain an optimal moisture level in the planting bed. Hope this answers all your questions.

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