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In order for tulips to thrive in a magnificent and colorful way in spring, it is very important to plant the bulbs correctly. Learn from the plant expert when, how and where to plant the tulip bulbs and what you should definitely pay attention to.

plant tulips

When the tulips begin to appear in early spring, the planting season is officially heralded. But mistakes when planting the tulip bulbs often lead to problems with growth, whereby in the worst case this does not happen at all and you wait in vain for the splendor of colour. To prevent this, it is important to find out in advance how, when and where to plant the tulip bulbs. The following expert instructions and valuable tips ensure healthy, vigorous growth of tulips.

buy onions

Everything begins with the purchase of the onions. Here you have to explicitly pay attention to the quality, because only through this can the onions be guaranteed. In addition, inferior quality onions with diseases could, in the worst case, even spread fungi and bacteria in the soil. Therefore, be sure to pay attention to the following quality features when purchasing.

  • no mold or rot on the bulbs
  • no musty smell
  • solid consistency
  • powerful substance
  • the larger, the more likely an expulsion

autumn setting

In principle, the tulip bulbs should be planted early in autumn, when the outside temperatures are still pleasant and there is no frost in sight. Early to mid-October is the best time to plant tulips when you should plant. You can plant some tulip varieties in combination with frost-free weather and/or mild temperature phases until December. In the case of frost-sensitive tulip varieties, you should wait until spring before planting.

spring planting

If you forgot to plant or decide to plant the bulbs too late, you can still do so in the spring. The prerequisite for this, however, is that the tulips are advanced before you plant them in the ground. If there is no propulsion, they cannot sprout in time for the flowering season because they are not far enough in the development stage, as is the case with those that were already planted in autumn. You can usually get pre-planted tulip bulbs from any nursery, depending on the type of tulip, from February at the latest. But you can also do the driving of tulips yourself.

When planting, however, you must note that you have to proceed differently in some points than with the autumn plantings. Read about this under the heading "Setting - spring planting".


The right location for a bulb depends on the type of tulip. Some like it sunny, others prefer a certain type of soil.

wild tulip

The wild tulip, for example, blooms quite early between March and May. With its usually low growth height, it is ideal for roadsides or in borders, where it thrives either in the sun or in semi-shade in sandy soil.

garden tulip

The garden tulip, on the other hand, grows taller and has different flowering times depending on the variety. It loves a spot in the sun and adorns flower beds in particular with its spring-like radiance. Basically, no optimal location can be named and this should be chosen individually in accordance with the respective tulip variety. The location information is usually included with the bulbs when you buy them.


Although the tulip varieties sometimes prefer different locations, they all agree on the soil conditions. When planting tulips in the ground, it should meet a few conditions. If you plant the flower bulbs in a balcony box, you should use high-quality substrate.

Basically, the following applies to the soil conditions:

  • permeable
  • nutritious
  • slightly clayey
  • high clay content can be corrected by adding sand
  • Avoid waterlogging by drainage using gravel or clay
  • pH between 6.5 and 7.0

When choosing a substrate, you should pay attention to the following:

  • Balanced loam-sand content
  • Perlite for more permeability
  • nutritious
  • pH between 6.5 and 7.0


In addition to the optimal location, the right soil and good bulb quality, the professional planting of the Tulpia bulbs is a prerequisite for strong, healthy growth.

Once a suitable location has been chosen, the following points should be considered:

  • planting hole width: about twice the diameter of the onion
  • planting hole depth: Depending on the size of the onion, between 10 centimeters and 15 centimeters (twice as deep as the onion is high)
  • planting distance: Smaller tulip varieties around 10 centimeters - larger tulip varieties between 15 and 20 centimeters
  • Rock flour protects against rotting - dust the onions with it generously before planting
  • vole protection

Once the tulpia bulbs are planted, in many places some animals, such as rodents in particular, enjoy them, for which the vole in particular finds tasty food in them. Gnawed flower bulbs are usually severely damaged, causing them to die no matter what stage of growth they are in. The only thing that helps here is appropriate protection, which is placed in the planting hole when it is planted.

The following are suitable for this:

  • special planters
  • rabbit wire

These must be of a size so that they correspond to the dimensions of the planting hole, but of course still fit into the planting hole. Simply form the rabbit wire into a bowl with a bottom. Make sure you use fine-mesh wire, otherwise voles can squeeze through. Both the plant bowl and the wire basket should protrude slightly above the top layer of soil.


autumn planting

  • Dig a hole of the required size
  • Lay gravel or quartz sand about 2 centimeters on the ground (drainage)
  • pour some soil over it
  • use a plant bowl or rabbit wire basket if necessary
  • Place the tulpia bulb in with the root side down
  • make sure that the bulb is planted straight
  • In nutrient-poor soils, enrich the excavated earth with compost
  • close the hole in the ground
  • Lay the soil loosely over the tulip bulbs
  • Watering not necessary

spring planting

In spring a tulipa bulb is planted higher than in autumn. Here the shoots must protrude above the surface of the earth. If a rodent protection for voles or other predators is used, the planting bowl/rabbit wire basket must be filled with soil to a corresponding extent.

The excavation is the same as for fall planting, but the soil around the bulb is compacted to give it more stability. Then soil or substrate is laid loosely around the shoot and the planting site is moderately watered. Even if the plant hole depth is lower here, the recommended plant hole width and the minimum planting distance remain the same.


Fertilization is advisable from the time the first leaf tips can be seen. When planting in spring, there should be at least two to three weeks between the time of planting and the first fertilization.

A complete fertilizer is recommended, which is administered until flowering and promotes development. This should not have a nitrogen content, because the flower bulbs store nitrogen in the long term and this can result in an oversupply and reduced flower growth. Accordingly, only special nitrogen-free fertilizers should be used.


When the next winter announces itself, the plant bulbs do not necessarily have to be dug up and hibernate in a special winter quarters. If they have thrived healthily during the season, they usually have enough potential to survive the cold winter in the ground or in the balcony box unscathed. However, leave the stems after the flowering season, as this is where they draw their strength from and will grow again the following spring.


Winter driving

However, sensitive tulip varieties should be dug up and overwintered frost-free. This also has the advantage that you prevent rot, which destroys many onion plantations, especially in the wet winter. However, a forcing is then necessary for the spring planting.

earth propulsion

Choose a dry place for winter quarters. The earth should be completely removed. If you stick to the following points, you can overwinter and sprout sensitive tulips undamaged so that you can put them back outside well prepared in early spring.

  • move to winter quarters in October at the latest
  • store cool between 0 degrees Celsius and a maximum of eight degrees Celsius
  • winter quarters should be dark with no natural light, such as a basement or wooden box
  • place in a container filled with sand and/or peat moss
  • Press in the tulpia onion no more than halfway
  • do not water or fertilize
  • Budding after about eight to 16 weeks, depending on the weather and site conditions

water method

  • start from the beginning of February
  • use a glass jar that is bulbous at the bottom and funnel-shaped at the top (available from garden supply stores)
  • fill the bulbous part completely with water
  • Place the onions in the jar with the tip up
  • A distance of five to six millimeters must be maintained between the onion skin and the water surface
  • after a few days, roots form and protrude into the water
  • Onion and water contact must be avoided (risk of rotting)
  • Tulips can remain in the jar or be planted outdoors

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