Tulip Planting Instructions and Care
When and where to plant
Plant tulips any time the soil 6 inches deep is 60oF or colder. As a general guide, plant in September or early October in USDA Climate Hardiness Zones 4 and 5; October to early November in zones 6 and 7; November to early December in zones 8 and 9; and late December to early January in zone 10.
In zones 8 through 10, refrigerate tulip bulbs for six to eight weeks before planting. Place them in a paper bag away from ripening fruits (the fruits produce ethylene gas, which destroys the flower bud within the bulb).
Tulips grow best in full sun in well-prepared soil with fast drainage. Avoid planting where water collects, or in locations that are prone to late frosts.
Choose a site which receives at least 4-6 hours of sunlight each day and is well-drained. Water frequently in spring. Cover with mulch in winter. Peat moss, pine needles, leaves, straw or grass cuttings are good materials to use. Plant the bulbs 5 inches deep and 4 -6 inches apart.
After flowering, do not cut back the foliage until after it has browned naturally. Regular watering will prevent it from dying back too early. Don't over water your tulips, though. They tend to rot in wet areas. For next year's flower production, the foliage must produce enough food to replace the strength lost in flowering. If you decide to cut the flowers, use a sharp knife and take only one or two leaves from each plant. Any more than this will weaken the bulbs. If your flowers start growing smaller and fewer, it may be time to divide and replant the bulbs. Dig up the clumps in spring and replant them right away, or if holding them until fall, place in a well-ventilated area.