Tulips are some of the most colorful, versatile flowers and are a favorite of gardeners. These flowers come in dozens of varieties, require little maintenance compared to other plants, and bloom beautifully after you plant them. However, many people wonder if you can eave tulip bulbs in pots and keep them there or if they need to replant tulips in the ground eventually.
Tulip Bulbs Overview
If you’re considering planting tulip bulbs, you will want to know the ins and outs of these cup-shaped flowers before beginning your planting process. With a little knowledge, you can ensure that your flower bulbs stay healthy throughout the summer with great success. Read on to learn more about how to plant tulip bulbs.
How To Plant Tulip Bulbs: Frequently Asked Questions
Tulips are relatively easy to grow compared to other popular flower varieties. Tulips are perennials, but most grow them as annuals, only having them bloom once in the spring. They are originally from central Asia and were brought to Europe in the 1600s. They do best in well-drained soil as the bulb is susceptible to root rot.
It will take more care and attention to grow them in hotter climates as their natural habitat is mountainous areas with cooler temperatures throughout the growing spring season. Many gardeners plant them in the ground in the early fall for early spring bloomers. As tulips grow, they often will produce baby bulbs that grow off the mother bulb and will flower in a few years with care.
Can You Leave Tulip Bulbs in Pots After Flowering?
Many people decide to start off their bulbs in a pot before transferring them to the ground after they bloom. However, if you live in an apartment or a residence without a yard, you may not have any other choice but to keep your plants and flowers in pots.
Thankfully, your bulbs will be just fine to stay in your flower pot after they begin to bloom. Tulips are hardy plants that do not need too much space to take root after they grow. As a result, keeping your bulbs in a spacious pot will give them plenty of room to thrive after they begin flowering.
After you notice the first blooms in your pot, we recommend adding some new soil to the pot to provide additional nutrients and fertilizer for your flower. Many garden centers recommend adding bone meal or well-rotted organic matter, but this is not necessary. The new soil will keep the blooms looking healthy and bright throughout their lifespan.
What Type of Soil Should I Plant Tulips In?
While tulips can grow in nearly any type of soil, these flowers thrive in loose, crumbly soil that offers superior drainage. Unfortunately, bulbs often rot in soil that remains too damp, making it essential that the pot that you keep your tulips in has decent drainage holes to let out excess moisture after watering.
You can create an ideal soil mixture for your tulips by mixing traditional potting soil with sand. Sand will create optimal drainage within the soil, ensuring that the planting mix does not remain wet for too long after you water your tulips. Plant tulips en masse for a breathtaking display of color and texture.
What Size Container Can I Plant Tulips In?
If you plan to keep your tulips in a pot or container throughout their lifespan, you will need a large container that gives your flowers room to grow. How much space will usually be relative to the size and age of the bulb, but plan to look for containers with a minimum diameter of 18 inches and a minimum height of 15 inches.
Unfortunately, if your container is too small, your bulbs may not survive planting. Giving your tulips plenty of room will ensure that they thrive in your pot.
What Time of Year Should I Plant Tulips?
Late autumn is the best time of year to plant your new bulbs in pots. This means September for colder climates, October for transitional climates, and November or December for warmer climates.
Planting your bulbs in the fall will give your tulips plenty of time to flower once spring rolls around the following year. Freezing temperatures are not ideal for planting bulbs.
Potted Tulips and Pests
When you plant tulip bulbs, especially potted bulbs, the concern for pests is increased. Unfortunately, pests such as slugs can easily ruin your precious tulips.
Be sure to check for pests regularly and add horticultural grit to the topsoil if you find any. It’s also important to make sure that the soil for planted bulbs is free of weeds, as many pests will hide in them.
Storing Tulip Bulbs
Because they are spring flowers, in the winter you can store potted tulips in an unheated garage. If you have bulbs that you want to plant in the future, but it’s not time, place your bulbs in a paper bag and a cool place like the refrigerator. Be careful not to place them next to fruits and vegetables as they give off ethylene gas as they ripen.
Will Potted Bulbs Bloom Again?
Unfortunately, potted tulips typically usually do not bloom again. At the end of the season, you should take your bulbs out of the pot and use them for multi-purpose compost, then buy tulip bulbs for the following year.
Alternatively, after the foliage has turned yellow, dry the best bulbs out and replant them next season. The next season you should plant them in the ground in a sunny spot if you want to have any chance of success.
Other Ways to Grow Tulips
There are several methods of planting tulips that give them an excellent opportunity to grow and thrive all summer long. If you’d rather not plant your tulips in a pot, you can try one of these methods instead.
Planting Tulip Bulbs In the Ground
Growing tulips in the ground is typically a more reliable method than planting them in a pot. While tulips can survive in a pot with the right conditions and care, they tend to thrive more in the ground.
This is because the ground does not hold moisture as much as pots do, ensuring that the bulbs do not sit in excess water between waterings. Additionally, the ground gives the plant’s roots more space to expand, creating a firmer foundation for the elongated flowers.
If you would like to plant your tulips in the ground, you should first plant bulbs in the fall to produce flower heads in early spring. Be sure to pick a spot in your yard or garden that has well-draining soil and gets at least partial sun.
You should plant the spring bulbs at least 4 to 5 inches apart from each other and position them around the same depth of between 5 and 7 inches deep. Alternatively, some gardeners choose to soak tulip bulbs before planting in the spring, but this is not necessary.
Tulips in Window Boxes
If you’d like to dress up your home or apartment’s curb appeal without planting the tulips in the ground, you can also grow them in a window box. To do so, simply use potted bulbs in the window box in direct sunlight with at least three to four inches of soil covering them.
We recommend using a mixture of tall and short tulips in several different colors to create a visual contrast within your window box. You can also throw some pansies, primroses, and daisies into the box.
Growing Tulips in Water
Did you know you can grow tulips in water instead of soil? You can simply plant your bulbs in a glass bowl or vase and half-fill with water, glass beads or stones, and a waterproof filler. Be sure only to add enough water to cover the bulb’s roots.
Using this method, you shouldn’t need to add any nutrients or fertilizer to the water, as the bulbs already contain all of the growing aids your tulips need. They will, however, need to be in a sunny position.
Do Tulips Multiply?
Yes, they do! Tulips are one of the easiest bulbs to multiply. You can do it by digging up the bulbs in late summer or early fall and separating them. As the tulips spread naturally out and gain energy, they produce smaller bulbs as an offshoot of the mother bulb. Tulips multiply through asexual reproduction.
This is true of wild tulips as well as non-hybrid varieties, with a few exceptions. Each bulb will usually have several “offsets,” or small bulblets, attached to it. These small bulbs are carefully pulled apart and replanted to grow more tulips. You can also divide larger clumps of tulips that have become overcrowded. Just dig up the entire clump, divide it into smaller sections, and replant.
Guide to Growing the Perfect Tulips
This is a great book if you are just get started gardening or are considering going all organic. We will discuss topics that even seasoned gardeners can benefit from such as; why organic, risks of chemicals, making your own compost, and much more.
Other Spring Bulbs to Plant in Containers
You can try planting any other flowers in pots or containers, but some strains do better than others in these confining vessels. We recommend planting shorter varieties, such as princess Irene, double exotic emperor, and miniature bright gem tulips in pots.
Princess Irene Tulips
Princess Irene tulips are beautiful tulip varieties that show off a mixture of pink and orange petals, creating an almost ombre effect with their coloring. These tulip varieties thrive in pots, and they can add visual interest to your indoor or outdoor space.
One of the favorites of the Netherlands, this species of tulip is an early bloomer with orange petals. They really have that wow factor that you are looking for, making their appearance in the spring a very welcomed site.
This is one of the darwin hybrids that produce longer tulips of about two feet in height. They have planting depths of six to eight inches deep. These yellow-colored plants will bloom in mid-spring.
Double Tulip Exotic Emperor
Double exotic emperor tulips are a unique tulip variety that has a flatter, rounder base than traditional tulips. These tulips feature large, fluffy white blooms and green embellishments, giving them the royal appearance of an emperor.
The tulip black parrot gets its name from its bold dark color. Starting off as green shoots, you can mix them with double early to make for a beautiful bouquet.
Miniature Tulip Bright Gem
Bright gem tulips are typically yellow in color and feature a star-shaped, rounded petal design. These charming tulips will add a pop of color to your window box or pot.
So yes, you can leave tulip bulbs in pots after they flower! When spring arrives, just dig out any remaining roots, cut off the old stems close to the garden soil level, and put the fresh potting mix into your container before re-planting with new tulips (or other spring flowers). Subscribe to Amaral Farms today for seasonal gardening expert tips like these delivered straight to your inbox each month!