Tulips love the sunshine and bring their bountiful colors to gardens in late April and early May in most parts of the country, when the sun is warmer. According to the University of Kentucky, there are more than 100 different kinds of tulips whose bulbs are planted in the fall to get ready for their spectacular sunny showing in spring.
Tulips perform best when the soil is moist and soft. Clay should be amended with peat moss and organic compost. The flowers prefer well-drained sites where the water is not left standing. You can plant tulips in partial shade, though they do best in spots that receive full sunlight for the better part of the day. Ideally, the flowers shouldn’t receive the full brunt of the sun during the hottest part of the day.
The bulbs need to stay cool in the winter, so if you want your tulips to bloom perennially, you should plant them away from the heated base of your house. Plant a variety of tulips together to take advantage of the colorful display each spring. Bulbs should be planted between the first of October and Thanksgiving in holes that are about 5 inches deep to protect them from a hard freeze. Cover with mulch or straw, and keep them watered.
If your tulips can’t avoid the heat of the noonday sun, you can cut back on the amount of water they receive to reduce stress on the flowers. Because the bulbs are susceptible to fungus, mold, rot and wilting, you should plant only healthy bulbs from a reputable garden shop. Inspect bulbs before planting and, discard bulbs that are damaged or spoiled. Reputable sites such as ProFlowers sell high-quality bulbs already in bloom that can be re-planted in the height of the growing season or in the fall after you’ve enjoyed the potted plant.
Flowers and petals should be trimmed once they begin to fade. The remaining foliage should be left to die naturally if you want the bulbs to bloom again the following year. You can add fertilizer when the flowers first bloom. You’ll know when your planting was successful because the flowers will stand tall through the early part of summer. Healthy tulips should be left alone to bloom again the following year. Consider digging up the bulbs and moving them to a sunnier spot with more drainage if you weren’t satisfied with your crop.