Plant Pick – Growing Tulips

If you hadn’t heard, it’s September already. That means it’s time to plant bulbs for a spring show in 2015. And, if you’re stocking up, then it’s definitely time to be thinking about tulips.

I often think that tulips are one of the more overlooked bulbs. We all fill our gardens with daffs, crocus and snowdrops, yet tend to leave tulips out of the mix. I think this tends to be  because if you throw those former bulbs in to pretty much any soil, apart from excessively wet, they’ll thrive, propagate and pop up year after year with very little management. Tulips, however, tend to fade over the years if they’re not looked after. For best results, you really need to lift the bulbs after flowering, dry them out and then re-plant – but, actually, that’s not much of a hardship considering the beautiful blooms they give you. 

But the wonderful thing about tulips is they often flower after many of the other spring bulbs have faded. Daffodils, given our weather over the past few years, can start as early as February and are gone by April/March; a time at which tulips are just coming out. In addition, I far prefer the few leaves left by tulips to the swathe of yellowing daff leaves which need to be left in place to ensure good flowers the following year. For that reason, I tend to use dwarf narcissus instead of the larger varieties.


Whether planted  in pots, borders or even vege patches for the early bees, tulips bring vibrant colour to the garden. With SO many varieties you can always find a hue to compliment your design scheme, and whether you use a single type or a cacophony of colours, they definitely deserve a place in this week’s plant pick!

Name: Tulip

Thrives In: Prefers full sun and a sheltered aspect so those spring gusts don’t damage the petals too early on.

Yearly Care: Deadhead after flowering and allow the leaves to fade before you cut the stems back. For continued shows year after year, it’s a good idea to lift the bulbs, dry them out and store in a cool, dark place until the autumn – when replanting can take place.

Growing Medium: Any well drained and fertile soil.

Quick Tip: Group together in islands of colour if you’re limited to a few bulbs as they’ll make more of an impact that way. Use in pots for a show after daff’s fade. Also, see my Friday Finds from a few weeks ago – there was a tulip freebie at J Parker Dutch Bulbs.

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I'm Geoff, and I'm a plant hoarder.

Like magpies collect bright shiny things, I can't resist plants. An exquisite flower, soft ferny foliage or a beautiful majestic tree - I love them all!

Here, I'll indulge in all things flora and share my passion. Join me as I develop my garden and hoard more plants without apology.