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Caring for Tulips – Spring’s Natural Gems

Nothing says spring like a display of colorful tulips. From “Queen of Night,” with its dramatic black blooms, to the two-toned “Miami Sunset,” with its variegated magenta and fringed petals, there are enough tulip varieties for even the most discerning tulip aficionado.

And with a just a little bit of know-how, amateur gardeners can grow tulips just as picture perfect as the 30,000 that bloom every spring at Hershey Gardens. (Because Mother Nature has the ultimate say as to when Hershey Gardens’ tulips will be in bloom, go to HersheyGardens.org for updates on the best time to see the tulips in all their glory.)

Try your hand at growing your own tulips with these basic tips:

Caring for Tulips . . .

  • After tulips are finished blooming (in spring), remove the flower and flower stem.
  • If you are planning to move tulips to a new location, do so right after they are finished blooming. You can replant them or store them and plant later.
  • If you are hoping to have them re-bloom the following year, wait until the leaves turn yellow to remove from the ground.
  • Store bulbs in a cool, dry place and replant them in the fall.
  • Beware of rodents and deer—they love to eat tulips!

Plant tulips. . .

  • In the late fall in a partly sunny or full sun location.
  • To a depth of 2 ½ times the size of the bulb, or about four to six inches deep.
  • In loamy, well-drained soil.
  • Choose several different varieties and colors for the most vibrant show.
  • Fertilize with Bulb-tone or any 10-10-10 fertilizer as per the instructions.
  • Water bulbs after planting and then only if soil becomes very dry.
  • Mulch over tulip bulbs to preserve moisture and control weeds.
  • Look for diseased bulbs and remove promptly.

Although tulips will bloom for more than one year, subsequent blooms will usually be smaller, and some will not re-bloom.

Tulips look great in a bed all by themselves, alongside other bulbs or with perennials and shrubs.

Regardless of the setting, their color and beauty are timeless signs of spring’s awakening.