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Growing Tulips Guide

Tulips bring some of the most stunning Spring colours of any plant grown in Britain. They are guaranteed to make you smile on a sad day: or your blues back!  

When do Tulips Flower?

Tulips start flowering around the end of March, when the early spring flowering bulbs (e.g. snowdrops, daffodils, crocus) are finishing, lasting until roses and herbaceous perennials take over from June-July.

 

Flaming Purissima Tulips

Which Tulip Varieties Should I Choose?

Choosing the right Tulips is as "easy" as picking your favourite colour from hundreds of varieties: the problem comes when it's time to stop! 

As with any garden plant, if in doubt, look for the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM), which is given to plants that are both beautiful and easy to grow in the average garden.

Here are some of our personal favourites: 

The Best Tulips for Containers
 

Hot pink Hermitage is stunning and works in almost any container, but is born for terracotta.
Red & white Armani, either by itself or planted with a white tulip such as Diana.

For a breathtaking aroma with your potted Tulips, try the classic combo with matching Hyacinths: Exotic Emperor plus Carnegie for white, Red Riding Hood with Jan Bos for red, or Peach Blossom with Fondant for pink.

The Best Tulips for Borders
 

The best border tulips really depend on the other flower colours you have in April/May. 

Our top three are:

• Foxtrot: Fully double, this flurry of pink and cream petals, planted in small drifts, is always ready to appear on Strictly Come Dancing.

White Triumphator: Nothing beats this for elegance. Pure white, tall, stately and breathtakingly beautiful. Not for a windy spot, however! 

Albion Star: Speaking of windy sites, this delicate white bloom with pink flushes on short, sturdy stems is one of the toughest varieties and can take pretty much any kind of British weather.

• Monte Carlo: Simply the best double yellow tulip there is! 

Spring Green: I would have called this sweetie "Minty Ice Cream" myself. Really stylish.

Black Parrot and Blue Parrot: No collection is complete without a parrot or two, and this pair have some of the richest purples around.
 

The Best Tulips for Naturalising

Naturalising with tulips is not quite the same as with Daffodils: daffs can colonise almost anywhere, but Tulips generally need good soil.
In practice, this means that most of them only "naturalise" well in borders, rather than lawns.

Our Naturalising Tulip Collection makes it easy for you, containing the toughest varieties that can compete with grass, such as Blackjack, Flyer, Creme Upstar or Flaming Purissima (the actual mix may vary).

 

Purple Flag Tulips 

Planting Tulips
 

When is the Best Time to Plant Tulips?

The best time for Tulip planting is in November, when the soil has cooled. December is also fine, but better in the first half of the month.
There is no benefit to planting them earlier, and it may increase the risk of disease in warm soils, but if October is chilly, they will be fine.

If we deliver your Tulip bulbs before November (this is normal if you order earlier flowering bulbs as well, which are best planted in late September-October), store them somewhere cool, dry and dark until November. 
 

Where Should I Plant Tulips?

All tulips demand well-drained, rich soil. The more well-rotted organic matter you add to the soil, the better. 

They love full sun, which makes them excellent subjects for borders, which tend to be relatively shade free in April and May before everything else explodes into leaf.

Most tulips have huge flowers and often quite tall stems, so need some shelter from the wind. Shorter varieties with smaller flowers are best in exposed gardens.
 

How do I Plant Tulips in a Border?

Before you plant your tulips in your flower bed, prepare the soil by digging in some organic matter, unless you already have beautiful topsoil.

Plant tulips at least three times as deep as the bulb is tall. If in doubt, slightly deep is better than too shallow. 
If you ever planted tulips in the past that died out after a couple of years, it was probably because they were too shallow.

For naturalising Tulips, plant a bit deeper at four times as deep as the bulb is tall.
Planting them deep reduces the number of bulbils (baby bulbs) produced after flowering, so that the mother bulb has more energy for flowers the following year.

The pointy end goes upwards.

Tulips look best in groups: 10-15 bulbs as a minimum, but 20-25 is better.

Space tulips about twice their width apart if you intend to leave them there.
If you want to use them as bedding for one season, then you could plant them only one bulb width apart.

How do I Plant Tulips in Pots & Containers?

You plant Tulips in pots much the same as above: the only real difference is that you would typically plant them almost side by side to fill the pot, with about an inch between them. 

What do I do with Tulips After They Finish Flowering?

Caring for Tulips when they finish flowering is initially the same:

  1. Deadhead as soon as the flower drops its petals.
  2. Wait for the leaves to completely wither.

Now, if you are leaving the bulbs in the ground, simply cut off the withered foliage.

If you prefer to lift your tulips for dry storage, I often find it more convenient to dig them up first and then cut the old leaves off, only so I don't lose them in a busy border! 

Tulip bulbs store very well in a dark, dry place with a temperature somewhere around 18-22C (60-65F) until November when they can be planted again.
Read more about storing dry bulbs.

 

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1949

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut et massa mi. Aliquam in hendrerit urna.

Pellentesque sit amet sapien fringilla, mattis ligula consectetur, ultrices mauris. Maecenas vitae mattis tellus.

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1949

Lorem ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut et massa mi. Aliquam in hendrerit urna.

Pellentesque sit amet sapien fringilla, mattis ligula consectetur, ultrices mauris. Maecenas vitae mattis tellus.

1949

Lorem ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut et massa mi. Aliquam in hendrerit urna.

Pellentesque sit amet sapien fringilla, mattis ligula consectetur, ultrices mauris. Maecenas vitae mattis tellus.

img
img
1949

Lorem ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut et massa mi. Aliquam in hendrerit urna.

Pellentesque sit amet sapien fringilla, mattis ligula consectetur, ultrices mauris. Maecenas vitae mattis tellus.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut et massa mi. Aliquam in hendrerit urna. Pellentesque sit amet sapien fringilla, mattis ligula consectetur, ultrices mauris.

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