Skip to main content

Tulips are the colorful star of any garden – how to grow your own

Tulips are a beautiful flower, often used to signify that spring has arrived. They come in a wide variety of colors, from bright pinks and reds to dark purples and blacks, and are the perfect gift for a wide range of holidays, including Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and even Easter. Tulips are easy to grow and care for, making them excellent for gardeners who are just starting out. Whether you’re growing them for bouquets or just to add a little color to your garden, tulips can be grown in any garden. If you want to add tulips to your home or garden, we’ve got all the information you need to make sure they thrive.

A tulip field with many colors of tulips
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Best tulip varieties

Darwin hybrid tulips are mid-season tulips that bloom in a variety of shades, including pink, red, yellow, orange, and purple. These tulips are reliable, typically blooming for several years in a row. They also have increased weather resistance, making them a good fit for areas that may have too much wind for other tulip varieties.

Fringe tulips are a great option if you’re looking for something a little less typical. They come in a myriad of colors, from pastel purples and pinks to vibrant oranges and reds; there are even some multicolored varieties. However, unlike other tulips, they have a unique feature. The edges of their petals are feathery and resemble frayed fabric. Fringe tulips tend to bloom in the second half of the blooming season, typically in April or May.

Peppermint Stick is a tiny variety of tulips that blooms in stripes of pink and white and tends to have a more narrow bloom shape than other tulips. It grows to only about 10 inches in height, half the size of most tulips. Peppermint Stick tulips are very reliable, coming back year after year, typically mid-season.

Viridiflora tulips, or green tulips, get their name from the streak of green down their petals. This is an heirloom variety that’s been in gardens for roughly 70 years. The classic flower color for this variety is pale pink, but you can also get viridiflora tulips in a range of brighter colors as well. The flowers are wider than a standard tulip with slightly curled edges and typically bloom later in the season. Although they don’t last all year, they do last fairly long for tulips.

Pastel pink and purple tulip buds
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Planting your tulips

When should you plant tulips?

Tulips are typically planted in the fall. During winter they develop their roots and prepare to grow when the weather warms. Depending on your USDA hardiness zone, you can plant your tulips anytime from September to November. Tulips are hardy in zones 3 through 8, and many varieties can be grown in containers if you live outside of that range. In general, look for a time when the soil temperature is lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to plant your tulips

Choose a planting location with full or partial sun. In hotter regions, look for a place that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Tulips are not picky about soil type, but they don’t tolerate standing water. Make sure your soil is well-draining and be careful not to overwater them.

Plant your bulbs 5 to 7 inches deep, with the tip pointing up. Give them roughly 5 inches of space on all sides, so they’ll have plenty of room for their roots and leaves. Once they’re planted, water them once. You won’t need to water them again until spring.

Yellow tulips with orange stripes
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Caring for your tulips

During winter, continue to weed your garden and care for your other plants as you normally would, but leave your tulips alone. Resume watering them in the spring, when the weather begins to warm, and you’ll start to see green shoots pushing through the soil soon after. Continue to water them when the soil dries out. You can give them some compost or balanced time-release fertilizer in the fall when you plant them, but otherwise, most tulips grow fine without additional fertilizers.

Tulips are fairly pest and disease resistant, but sometimes have trouble with small rodents. If you’ve had problems with mice or voles in the past, consider adding a textural barrier around the bulbs, such as holly or gravel. If you’re growing tulips to use as cut flowers, then cut the stem and leave the leaves as intact as possible. Wait for the leaves to fully die before removing them.

These flowers are perennials, meaning they bloom for multiple years. However, the climate in North America is not ideal for tulips, which has led to them becoming more and more similar to annuals over time. How likely your tulips are to return each year depends on the variety, as some are more reliable than others.

Tulips are a stunning, colorful addition to any home, yard, or garden. No matter what your garden aesthetic is like, there’s a tulip variety that fits perfectly. Whether you like pretty pastels or brooding darkness, tulips will blend in or stand out. As an added bonus, they grow well in a wide range of climates, so you don’t need to worry about the weather. Now that you know the basics of tulip care, you’re ready to add these delightful perennials to your garden.

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
These are our favorite biennial flowers for a garden
Biennial flowers to plant for bursts of spring colors
A field of black-eyed Susans

Of the many flowers available to add to a flower garden, the ones that bloom the fastest are often the most popular. However, biennial flowers deserve love, too. Biennial plants are those that spend their first year growing, and they only flower and produce seeds in the second year. Although they die after their second year, the seeds they produce can be left to grow and flower again, and most biennial plants will reseed on their own. If biennial flowers sound interesting to you, here are our four favorites to start with.

Plant your foxgloves in full sun to partial shade. They can tolerate most soil types, but foxglove thrives in well-draining soil that is rich with organic matter. Mixing compost into the soil before planting can help with both factors. Water your foxglove regularly while the seeds and seedlings grow. Once they are established, foxgloves can withstand some drought, although you can continue to water them regularly if you prefer. Just take care not to keep the ground muddy or soggy, as foxglove can develop crown rot.

Read more
How to care for gerbera daisies, vibrant flowers that everyone loves
Planting gerbera daisies, their companion plants, and more
Orange, red, yellow, and white gerbera daisies clustered together

Gerbera daisies are charming, colorful, and extremely accessible. You can find gerbera daisy seeds, seedlings, or adult plants in practically any nursery or garden center, and it’s easy to see why. These easy-to-grow flowers come in many bright and beautiful colors, including shades of red, yellow, pink, orange, and white. They can grow in gardens and containers, and they make lovely bouquets as well. Want to get started growing your own gerbera daisies today? Here’s how to plant and care for them.
Planting gerbera daisies

You can plant indoor gerbera daisies any time, as long as you can keep the seeds or seedlings warm. Outdoor gerbera daisies shouldn’t be planted until after the last frost of the year has passed. Gerbera daisies don’t tolerate cold weather very well, which is why they grow as summer annuals in cooler regions. In USDA hardiness zones 8 through 10, however, they can grow as perennials.

Read more
Spruce up your garden with these gorgeous blue flowers
Blue flowers you can grow today
Close up of a bright blue cornflower

Blue is a lovely color that can be calming or invigorating, and there are many flowers that come in shades of blue. No matter what sort of mood you’re looking for, there is sure to be a blue blossom that captures it. From the bright, happy blue of cornflowers to the darker, more serene blue of lobelia, there’s something on this list for everyone. We’ll even give you some care tips, so you can get started growing them right away. Here are our six favorite blue flowers for you to add to your home or garden.

Cornflower, also called bachelor’s button, is a cheerful annual flower in the aster family. While it can be found in shades of white and pink, blue cornflowers are the most iconic. Cornflowers thrive in open, sunny spaces, so take care not to plant them too close to taller plants that might block them from getting sunlight.

Read more