When Should You Plant Tulips?

Planting times vary by zone. Get the facts and know when to plant.

'Arabian Mystery'

'Arabian Mystery'

'Arabian Mystery' is a special dark purple tulip featuring a sharp white edge on each petal. 

'Arabian Mystery' is a special dark purple tulip featuring a sharp white edge on each petal. 

This is the time of year to start thinking about planting tulips. Or is it? Depending on where you live, you may need to wait a bit longer. Here’s the skinny on when to plant:

  • Know Your Zone. In general, you’ll want to plant when the soil is 60F degrees or less, about six inches down. For an idea of when your soil should reach the correct temperature, you’ll need to know your USDA Climate Hardiness Zone. For example, tulips are usually planted in September and October in Zones 4 and 5; October or November in zones 6 and 7; November to early December in zones 8 and 9; and as late as January in zone 10.
  • Chill ‘Em. If you live in a warm area – zones 8 through 10 – you’ll want to put those tulip bulbs in the fridge for 6 weeks before planting them. Put them in a paper bag and keep them away from ripening fruits, which emit a gas that could destroy the tulip’s bud.
  • Consider Your Variety. If you live in a warm climate where it rarely or never gets freezing cold, you may need to consider a different variety of tulips. Darwin Hybrid is one example of a tulip that does well in warmer regions.

If you live in a very warm climate and aren’t sure you can give your tulips the cool period they’ll need, you can try a species tulip that’s attuned to warm climates. A species tulip is different and a bit smaller than the hybrid versions most of us are used to, but they are easy to grow and can be quite bright and striking. Here’s an idea: try both sorts and see which grows better!

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