Tulip Tips


You’ll get the best show from tulips if you plant them in clusters, almost bulb-against-bulb, rather than in long, lonely rows. You don’t want them to be viewed individually like little soldiers standing 6 or 10 inches apart.

Resist the urge to buy “bargain bulbs.” They’ll be smaller, inferior bulbs of lesser varieties. Local independent retail garden centers will usually have better bulbs than the national chain stores that compete more for price than for quality of results.

In almost all of Texas, tulips must be “pre-chilled” by spending time in the refrigerator. At least 45 days at 45 degrees (not in freezer), planting between December 20 and January 5. Without the pre-chilling, the abnormal flowers will emerge very close to the soil – no show at all. If you plant before mid- to late December, the warm soil will reverse the good effects of your pre-chilling.

Most tulips need to be treated as annuals (removed after they have finished blooming). They will not generally bloom a second time. There are a few species types of tulips (smaller-flowering types) that do come back. You will have to buy them from really good local nurseries or national bulb specialists or get them from a friendly neighbor who has them.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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