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How to Plant Tulips in the Ground and in Pots

Rachel is a passionate plantsperson, YouTuber and author living in Ireland. She grows a wide range of hardy subtropical and tropical plants.

Ballerina tulips.

Ballerina tulips.

How to Plant Tulips in Pots and in the Ground

In this article, I want to share with you how to plant beautiful tulips in the ground and in pots for a gorgeous spring display.

In This Article

  1. What Is the Best Month to Plant Tulips?
  2. Planting Tulips in Groups in the Ground (Step-by-Step Instructions)
  3. Do Tulips Come Back Every Year?
  4. How to Plant Tulip Bulbs in Pots (Step-by-Step Instructions)
  5. Can You Plant Potted Tulips in the Ground?

What Is the Best Month to Plant Tulips?

Tulip bulbs are readily available in packets in autumn and are best planted in October or November. The good news is that when you plant a tulip bulb, you're guaranteed flowers next spring!

Note: The only exception to this is if your bulb is somehow destroyed. It could rot because it's planted in a boggy area, or it could be eaten.

Ballerina tulips.

Ballerina tulips.

Planting Tulips in Groups in the Ground (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Grow tulips in fertile, well-drained soil in an open, sunny position.

  1. Arrange in Odd-Numbered Groups: When planting in the garden, arrange your bulbs in groups of three, five or seven. Odd numbers give a more naturalistic effect.
  2. Dig the Right-Sized Holes: Dig a hole three times the height of your tulip.
  3. Carefully Place the Bulbs: Place the bulb with its base downwards and the pointy side up and refill with soil.
  4. Give Them Enough Space: Space bulbs at least twice their width apart.

Read More From Dengarden

Do Tulips Come Back Every Year?

There are 15 divisions of tulips. You can check which division your tulip belongs to on a reputable horticultural site, like the RHS. Only tulips from six of these divisions are reliably perennial and will come back for many years.

6 Types of Perennial Tulips

The six repeat flowering divisions are:

  • Div. 4 (Darwin hybrids)
  • Div. 8 (Viridiflora)
  • Div. 12 (Kaufmaniana)
  • Div. 13 (Fosteriana)
  • Div. 14 (Gregeii)
  • Div. 15 (Miscellaneous)

Note: Only some tulips in the miscellaneous division are perennial. Also, tulips from the Darwin hybrids and Viridiflora divisions need to be planted deeper than others, at one foot or 30 centimeters deep.

How to Plant Tulip Bulbs in Pots (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Here's how to plant tulips in pots, which can then be transferred to the garden next year after flowering:

  1. Make a Mix: Make a mix of three parts potting compost to one part horticultural grit.
  2. Fill the Pot: Put your mix at the base of the pot. Fill it about three times the height of your bulb.
  3. Place the Bulbs: Place your tulip bulbs on the mix, leaving a finger's width between them.
  4. Add Compost: Place compost over your tulips to three times the height of your bulb, but leave at least one inch between the top of the compost and the rim of the pot to allow watering.
  5. Water and Place Outside: Water well and place in a sheltered outdoor spot for flowering.

© 2021 Rachel Darlington

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