How to Grow Tulips in Pots

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Tulips make for a beautiful indoor or outdoor potted plant that can bloom yearly if planted and cared for correctly. To grow tulips in pots, you’ll need the right pot, soil, and approach. Because tulips need to be dormant for 12-16 weeks before they can bloom, you’ll need to expose them to cool temperatures to replicate the weather in the fall. If done properly, your tulips will bloom in the spring or summer and can make a beautiful addition to your decor.


EditPlanting Tulip Bulbs

  1. Use a pot that’s at least in diameter with drainage holes. Your pot should be anywhere from deep. It’s important that the pot you get has drainage holes in it. Larger pots will be able to hold more tulip bulbs, which will create a fuller pot of flowers. You can purchase plastic, ceramic, or terracotta pots to plant tulips.[1]
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    • A pot can hold anywhere from 2-9 tulip bulbs.
    • A pot that is in diameter will be able to hold approximately 25 medium-sized tulip bulbs.
    • Drainage holes are important so that water doesn’t pool on the bottom of the pot and rot the bulbs.
  2. Fill the pot halfway with a perlite and vermiculite potting mix. Purchase a porous, fast-draining soil from a home and gardening store or online. Perlite and vermiculite potting mixtures are great mediums for tulips. Work outside and carefully pour the bag of potting mix into the pot.[2]
    Grow Tulips in Pots Step 2 Version 3.jpg
    • Potting soil is often better than the soil you can get in your yard or garden because it will retain moisture better, it’s filled with nutrients that promote growth, and it will have better drainage.
  3. Push the bulbs into the soil, spacing the bulbs apart. Place the bulbs up against the inside edge of the pot first, then move your way towards the center of the pot. Push the flat side of the bulbs deep enough into the soil to hold them in place.[3]
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    • The pointed end of the bulb should be facing up.
    • Planting more bulbs will result in more flowers, but it will increase the competition for nutrients and water. If you’re crowding the bulbs, be sure to water and apply fertilizer regularly.
  4. Cover the bulbs with of soil. Use the same potting soil that you used before to completely cover the bulbs. If you are putting the pots in an area that may be open to animals like squirrels, you can attach a wire grid over the top of the pots to prevent them from eating the bulbs before the tulips bloom.[4]
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  5. Consider adding additional bulbs for a layered effect. If you want your tulips to be different heights, or just want more tulips in your pots, you can layer bulbs on top of each other. To do this, simply cover the top layer of bulbs with of soil, then plant another layer of bulbs above the first layer before covering them with potting soil. When the bulbs bloom, they will fill up the entire pot.
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    • Cover the top layer of bulbs with of soil.
    • You can plant the second layer of bulbs directly over the first layer.
  6. Water the soil once the bulbs are planted. Water the soil thoroughly once you have planted the bulbs. Excess water should drain out of the drainage holes on the bottom of your pot.[5]
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    • If you are keeping the bulbs inside you’ll have to water them approximately 2-3 times per week.
    • If you are keeping the bulbs outside and there is regular rainfall, you don’t have to water them. If there is a drought, water them 2-3 times per week.
  7. Leave the bulbs in a cool area for 12-16 weeks. Leave the pots in a spare refrigerator or a cellar that maintains a temperature of . Tulips need to go through their dormancy phase in order to bloom in the spring. In order for this to happen, they must be exposed to colder temperatures.[6]
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  8. Keep the bulbs in a place with consistent temperatures without risk of freezing and thawing. Temperature changes will cause the bulb to rot.
    Grow Tulips in Pots Step 8 Version 3.jpg
    • If you are keeping the pots outside, it’s best to plant the bulbs when the temperature outside is .
    • If you purchased bulbs that are pre-chilled, you can skip this step.
  9. Move the tulips to an area that’s at least . After the tulips go through the dormancy phase, they will bloom if given the proper conditions. If you’re keeping the tulips inside, move them next to a window or another area that gets sunlight. If you’re moving the pots outside, make sure that the temperature has warmed up to at least .[7]
    Grow Tulips in Pots Step 9 Version 3.jpg
    • If it’s and you are keeping your tulips outside, put the pots under a shaded area like under a tree or awning.
  10. Wait 1-3 weeks for your tulips to start blooming. Tulips should start blooming when the outside temperatures reach . Different species of tulips bloom at different times a year, so read the packaging on the bulbs you’ve purchased so you can plant them accordingly.[8]
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    • Double early, fosteriana, kaufmanniana, greigii, and single early tulips will typically bloom earlier in the year.
    • Darwin hybrid, fringed, triumph, and lily flowered tulips are mid-season bloomers.
    • Parrot, single Late, viridiflora and double late bloom later in the season.[9]

EditCaring for Tulips

  1. Water the tulips when the top of soil is dry. You’ll want to water the soil regularly to make sure that it’s moist, but not soggy. To check this, occasionally poke your finger into the soil and water the soil if it’s dry.[10]
    Grow Tulips in Pots Step 11 Version 3.jpg
    • If you are keeping the pots outside, only water the bulbs if it doesn’t rain for over a week.
    • Continue watering the bulbs during the dormancy phase.
  2. Keep the tulips in an area that gets sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. Tulips need sunlight but don’t do well in extremely high temperatures. For this reason, keep them out of direct sunlight during the spring and summer. If you’re keeping the tulips inside, place them next to a window so that they can get enough sun every day.[11]
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    • You can keep your pots under the partial shade of a tree or under an awning to keep them out of direct sunlight.
    • The soil in a pot will often get hotter than the soil in a yard or garden.
    • Avoid using dark-colored pots, since they will absorb the sunlight and increase the soil temperature.
  3. Remove any fallen petals or leaves from the pot. Let the petals and leaves on the tulips turn yellow for 6 weeks before plucking them from the flower. If the petals or leaves fall off, remove them from the pot to prevent rot to the rest of the bulb.[12]
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    • Removing dead petals will encourage the tulips to bloom again the next year.
  4. Discard any tulips that develop diseases or are infested with pests. If the tulips are stunted in growth or exhibit brown or yellow patches over them, it’s likely they have a disease or may be infested with pests like nematodes. To prevent the disease from spreading, dig up the bulbs of any tulips that exhibit these signs of sickness and throw them away.[13]
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    • Prevent squirrels and other animals from eating your tulips by keeping them indoors, putting a wire mesh over the soil, or fencing them in.
    • Common tulip diseases include basal rot, root rot, and tulip fire, a fungal disease.
    • Do not plant tulip bulbs that have white fungus on them, because it can spread and hurt the rest of the tulips in your pot.
  5. Bring the tulips inside if the temperature goes below freezing. If the temperature dips below (), it could freeze the soil in your pot and kill your tulips for good. To avoid this, transport the tulips to a room that maintains a temperature of , such as the garage or basement.[14]
    Grow Tulips in Pots Step 15 Version 3.jpg
    • You can bring the tulips back outside in the late fall or early spring of the next year.
  6. Replace the potting soil in the pots every year. Dig up the tulip bulbs with a garden spade carefully, making sure not to damage the bulbs. Then, empty out your pots and replace the old potting soil with new soil. This will give bulbs nutrients, will promote growth, and increase the chances of the tulips reblooming the next growing season.[15]
    Grow Tulips in Pots Step 16 Version 2.jpg
    • If you are removing your bulbs off-season, store them in a cool and dark place, like a refrigerator, until you’re ready to plant them.
    • Use a quality potting mix with compost and fertilize it throughout the year if you don’t want to replace the soil every year. All you have to do is top dress the soil with compost just before the growing season.

EditSources and Citations

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