One of the best ways to create gorgeous early spring color in your flowerbeds is by planting tulip bulbs in the fall. Especially when you consider all of the amazing choices you now have when growing tulips!
There is nothing quite like seeing the brilliant bloom of a tulip unfold after a long, bleak, colorless winter. Not only are their bright flowers a wondrous signal that winter is coming to an end, they fill the landscape with some of the first true vibrant colors of the season.
From brilliant red, yellow and white hues, to purple, pink, orange and nearly everything in between, tulips can be found bursting forth in a near endless variety of colors and variations, bringing instant beauty and interest to a landscape that has been barren for months.
Tulip and tulip bulb varieties have come a long way in recent years. No longer are plain old red tulips the only option. A whole slew of new varieties and styles have been created in recent years, with more coming out each and every season. (See a few of our favorite selections at the end of the article)
One thing is for sure, they can really create a massive statement in your spring landscape. And even better, planting and maintaining tulips couldn’t be easier! In fact, with just a little soil preparation and planting this fall, you can create your own brilliant flowering display to rock your landscape next spring.
Here is a look at when and how to plant tulips this fall, and the secrets to success for getting your tulips to flower like crazy next year!
How To Plant Tulip Bulbs In The Fall
When To Plant
One of the biggest keys to success when planting tulips is to put them into the ground at just the right time. If you plant them too early, you leave them highly susceptible to rot. In addition, bulbs planted in late summer or very early fall have the potential to sprout and grow – leaving them in danger of freezing out over winter.
Unfortunately, if you plant them too late, the bulbs may not have enough time to “chill” down. That can lead to tulips that have trouble sprouting, or even if they do, tulips that won’t bloom. Late planted bulbs also have a higher potential to freeze out as well.
So what is the best time for planting tulips in the fall? To give them the best chance of success, planting should occur four to six weeks before your areas first average hard freeze. Depending on the region you live in, that can be anywhere from early September to late December.
This will allow them to go into the cooler fall soil with just enough time to adjust before the ground freezes. For northern climates, planting is best completed in mid-September through October. For warmer southern and southwestern climates, November through December is usually best for planting.
The Process – How To Plant Tulip Bulbs In The Fall
In addition to planting your bulbs at the right time, giving them a proper planting hole with plenty of nutrients will go a long way toward big flowering success next spring.
One of the biggest mistakes gardeners make when planting tulips is not creating a deep or wide enough planting hole. Depending on the variety you will be growing, your planting depth and hole size will vary. A good rule of thumb is to dig holes to a depth of three to four times the width of the bulb.
As an example, a one inch wide bulb should go in the ground at a depth of around 3 to 4 inches. As for width in the planting hole, always allow for at least a half inch of room around the bulb. This gives plenty of space for easy growth.
There are several methods for digging bulb holes efficiently. If your soil is loose and easy to work with, a hand held bulb planter will work wonders. A good pair of post hole diggers are great for creating holes quickly as well. They also have the advantage of allowing you to stand up when digging.
Perhaps one of the best tools of all is a metal drill auger bit. You can find bits in a wide variety of widths and lengths. They easily attach to a power drill in seconds. The auger bit drills into the soil quickly to create a hole with loose soil to fill back in. Product link – Drill Auger Bit For Planting
Filling The Planting Hole With Power! How To Plant Tulip Bulbs In The Fall
Once your planting hole is ready, the next step is to fill it with lots of power. And the best way to do that is with compost and worm castings. Both are loaded with all of the nutrients a tulip bulb needs to thrive. Even more, that power can absorb easily into the bulb as it grows next spring.
Once the planting hole is the right depth, mix in equal amounts of compost and soil along with a few tablespoons of worm castings. Place a few inches of the mix at the bottom of the hole. Next, plant the bulb down in the hole, pushing the bulb down into the compost/casting/soil mix. Always keep the tip of the bulb facing up.
To finish, fill the rest of the hole with the remaining soil mix. Water the surface of the soil to add moisture and help the mix settle in around the bulb. This surrounds the bulbs a nutrient-filled casing. One that will help provide adequate resources when it is time to grow and bloom.
Complete with a light 2″ coating of straw or shredded hardwood mulch on top. The mulch will help insulate the soil through winter. It also helps to conserve moisture for the bulb. Perhaps even more importantly, it will also aid in keeping squirrels and chipmunks from digging up your bulbs! See: How To Keep Your Bulbs Safe From Pests.
Spacing – How To Plant Tulip Bulbs In The Fall
When it comes to spacing tulip bulbs, it all boils down to the type of display you wish to create. Tulips perform well and look great when growing in clusters, but you can plant them in single rows to create a border as well.
Small clusters add a touch of color all over the landscape, while rows of bulbs spaced just a few inches apart will create a welcoming trail of color. No matter how you are planting, space bulbs with a minimum of 2″ between bulbs to allow for adequate resources from the soil.
Now that you are all ready to plant – here are a couple of incredibly colorful tulips to try in your landscape this fall:
This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, for gardeners. We publish two articles every week, 52 weeks a year. Sign up today to follow via email, or follow along on Facebook here : This Is My Garden. This article may contain affiliate links.