How to Care for Potted Tulips – Follow 8 Easy Steps

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Tulips bring a soothing fragrance and a bright and colorful look to your home and in the garden. Potted tulips can thrive with proper care in the garden or indoors.

Whether it’s during the peak bloom season or to prepare for next year’s crop, you will want to know how to care for potted tulips.

You will want to start potting tulip bulbs in the fall so that they are ready to bloom in spring. You can also pick up already potted tulips in the spring.

You will need a few tulip bulbs, potting soil, broken crocks or rocks, and a pot with a hole.

Read on to find out how you can take care of your potted tulips.
how to care for potted tulips

How to Care for Potted Tulips

Step 1: What you will need

To create an impressive display, choose to plant tulips in groups of 5 to 10.

You will need a few tulip bulbs, potting soil, rocks or broken crocks, and good quality fertilizer.

Also, select a pot for your tulips (in Step 3).

Other items you’ll find useful are a watering can and a garden shear.

Step 2: Choosing the right time to plant your potted tulips

If you want them in your own planter, the best time to plant is in the late fall, around October and November. That will make the tulips bloom in the late winter or spring.

The reason behind planting tulip bulbs in the fall is that tulips need a reasonable amount of time to rest before blooming. As well, the temperature needs to be cold enough over the winter for the tulips to bloom in the spring.

You can also pick up tulips that are already potted and ready to bloom during the spring.

Step 3: Pick a pot

Always choose a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom. If your favorite pot does not have a hole, you can drill drainage holes.

Adding draining discs, rocks or cracked pots can help with drainage without holes.

However, it’s best to have holes in the bottom of the pot.

The depth of the pot should be at a minimum of 7 inches tall.

Step 4: Fill the pot with draining media

To increase drainage, add broken pieces of crocks on the bottom of the pot. You can also use pieces of rocks. You need a layer of up to 20 centimeters.

Alternatively, you can use container drainer discs that are a lightweight way to drain your potted plants.

Container drainer discs are the expensive option that has the benefit of keeping the potting soil in your pot when you water so that your water dish looks tidy and the table or floors don’t get messy.

Step 5: Fill the pot with soil and the tulip bulb

The next step is to fill the pot with potting soil. Fill it only halfway up.

Use regular multi-purpose compost. Break up any lumps with your hands.

If your soil has too much sand or clay, add more organic type soil, like compost.

Take the tulip bulbs out of the paper bag. Avoid plastic bags for storing tulip bulbs because the paper bag will let the bulbs “breathe”.

Position them in the pot with the pointy side upwards. The flat, round base will go downwards.

You might be wondering about the distance between each tulip bulb.

Keeping a minimum distance of 3 inches between each bulb. That way, the roots will have room to grow.

Then fill the pot with more soil compost. Cover the tulip bulbs with, at minimum, 3 times the height of the bulb.

Pack down the dirt with your hands with medium pressure. This will remove any air pockets.

Optionally, apply a good quality fertilizer.

Step 6: Take the potted tulips outside

Water the newly potted tulips thoroughly and let the water drain from the pot.

The next step is to place the tulip pot outside your house.

Step 7: Optionally, move the tulip pot inside when the stems are at least 1 inch long

You may start to see the plant emerge in the late winter weeks or springtime. Have a look at the tulips regularly and see if the stems have started to grow.

If you live in an area with deep freezing, like Canada, add a layer of mulch to protect the bulbs.

When the stems become 1 inch long, you can move them inside your house, if that’s what you prefer.

The stems will take several weeks to become 4 to 5 inches long.

Step 8: Water the tulips once a week

The rain and snow during the winter season will activate its growth. When the weather starts to warm, you’ll see the leaves grow from the compost.

If you’re keeping them indoors, water them thoroughly 1-2 times a week. The water should soak through the entire soil and drain.

The water has to drain away from the roots to prevent root rot.

These are the steps that you can plant your potted tulips and take care of them.

Step 9: Deadheading spent flowers

Once the flowers are finished blooming, wait until the flower stalk is fully yellow or brown. Now, you will need to deadhead the tulip.

Cut down the stalk with a sharp garden scissor. Wipe the blade with alcohol before moving between plants to prevent disease spread.

Leave the foliage alone — you won’t need to trim the leaves and they will prepare the bulb for the next bloom.

You can prune the leaves when they turn completely yellow, about 6 weeks after the flowering is complete.

When is the Best Time to Plant Potted Tulips?

Since the bulbs need time to establish, you will want to plant the tulip bulbs at least 15 weeks before the time you want the tulips to bloom. They usually take 14 to 15 weeks to bloom.

The general rule of thumb for the best time to plant potted tulips is when the temperature in your area is 40- to 50-degrees at night.

In northern climates, this is usually around October, before the ground freezes.

In warmer climates, you can typically plant in December. As well, in warmer climates with mild winters, you will have to buy pre-chilled bulbs or chill the bulbs in the refrigerator.

Do You Need to Fertilize Potted Tulips?

You won’t need to add fertilizer while planting the tulips because the tulip bulbs typically consist of various nutrients. As well, good quality compost will have enough nutrients for the bulbs.

You can, optionally, add a granular fertilizer to help. The best times to add fertilizer or fresh compost are:

  • when you first pot the bulb
  • in the springtime
  • after deadheading the spent flowers

7 Steps to Care for Potted Tulips

How Long Do Potted Tulips Last For?

Tulips usually live for several years, reappearing every spring. It does depend on the climate in your area.

You can take care of the tulips by watering them and deadheading them before the seed develops.

The factors will depend on the climate in your area, as well as the species of tulips. There are types of tulips that will live from 1 to 10 years.

They will live for many years if you live in such a region where winters are generally cold and summers are dry.

Do Potted Tulips Need Sunlight?

Yes, potted tulips also need sunlight. Especially when you plant the tulip bulbs, they will need to be put in indirect sunlight.

After that, the tulips will require sunlight until it blooms completely.

How Do You Keep Tulips Alive?

Overwatering is the cause for many tulips to wilt.

To help prevent overwatering, use a layer of draining media at the bottom of the pot. These can be draining discs, rocks, or broken crocks.

Use a pot that has a hole on the bottom so that the water can drain.

Tulips will need to be watered thoroughly 1-2 times a week. Thoroughly soak the soil and let the excess water drain.

The water has to drain away from the roots to prevent root rot.

To ensure success, plant the bulbs during the fall time. Use organic compost soil and cover the bulb with at least 3 heights of the bulb. Cover with a layer of mulch if you live in freezing climates to protect the bulb.

The tulip bloom can last between 1 to 4 weeks.

Once the flowers are done blooming, you will need to deadhead the tulip while it is seeding. Wait until the flower stalk is completely yellow or brown and cut off the dead flower with a sharp garden scissor. Leave the foliage because they will prepare the bulb for the next blooming season.

How to Get Your Tulips to Stand Up Straight?

If you find your tulips looking more bendy than you’d like, you can get them to stand up straight again with a simple trick.

Wrap a piece of paper around the tulip bunch, covering the flower until the edge touching the soil or water. Make sure they are straight.

Soak them in water or water them and wait.

After 1 hour, remove the paper.

You will find that your tulips are straight again!

If your room has sunlight or heat, the tulips will bend towards these sources.

Keeping them in a cooler room without direct sunlight will prevent the tulips from naturally bending.

As you can see, tulips are easy to grow! That’s all you have to do once you have your bulbs.

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