Tulips are an elegant blossom, long valued for their beauty and grace. Tulips have a place in the garden and in cut flower bouquets, or they may be planted in indoor pots to bring color to your home. Tulips are grown from bulbs and may blossom year after year in your flowerbeds, depending upon your climate.
Whether tulips function as a perennial or an annual depends upon your climate. Tulips are native to Eastern Turkey and the foothills of the Himalaya mountains, regions with a cold winter and hot, dry summer. If you live in a suitable climate, you can plant tulip bulbs in the fall. They will begin to root as soon as they're planted and continue gradually growing a root system throughout the cold winter. Warming temperatures in the springtime trigger rapid growth and produce stems and eventual flowers.
Tulips as an Annual
If you do not have the cold winter and hot summer tulips require for perennial growth, you can artificially create these conditions to enjoy tulips in your garden. Some gardeners opt to re-use their bulbs each year, while others simply discard the old bulbs and start over with new ones each year. If you do want to reuse your tulip bulbs from year to year, cut the flower short approximately three weeks after blooming. Six to eight weeks later, dig the bulbs out of the ground and store. Chill at 40 degrees to 45 degrees Fahrenheit for eight to 10 weeks before re-planting. Expect blooms six to eight weeks after planting. If you have a bulb garden or forced bulbs, like the gardens sold by ProFlowers, you can save your bulbs to plant in the garden the next year.
Tulips can be grown indoors, as can many other flower bulbs, by forcing the plant. Forcing requires a chilling period of 10 to 12 weeks. Plant bulbs in a light soil mixture, then store in a cool, dark place. Once they have a 2-inch shoot, gradually move them to a slightly warmer and brighter space. Continue this move in small steps until your tulips rest in a sunny window. Forcing allows you to enjoy tulips year-round. If you don't want to force your own bulbs or would like to surprise someone with forced bulbs, the ProFlowers Pretty in Pink Bulb Garden is ideal.
If you grow tulips in your cutting garden as an annual or a perennial, you should cut them when the flower is fully colored but unopened. Tulips continue to grow after they are cut and will open in the vase. Cutting at this point will allow you to enjoy your bouquet as long as possible. If you order a bouquet of tulips, like the ProFlowers Purple Tulips or Holland Queen Tulips, expect some blossoms to be fully open and others partially closed. Keep cut tulips out of direct sunlight to keep your bouquet beautiful.