How To Care For Potted Tulips

Tulips are a spring-flowering bulb that is one of the easiest bulbs to grow. Planted in the Autumn they begin to bloom in April, lasting a couple of months during the summer before requiring cutting back.

They make an excellent container plant and offer a beautiful, full display in Spring.

For a good blooming season, you need to know how to care for potted tulips. Container plants have slightly different needs to those that are planted directly in the soil. Keep on reading to find out how you can care for your potted tulips for a successful bloom.

potted tulips pin

About Tulips

There are hundreds of varieties to choose from available in a range of colors and sizes. From purple to yellows, reds, and oranges, planting these spring bulbs can offer a vibrant color display in your garden.

For a good bloom, you need to check your tulip bulbs first. Larger bulbs contain more stored energy and will produce larger blooms.

Although tulips are perennial bulbs, when planted in pots they tend to provide a full bloom only in the first year. So, unlike with tulips planted in the ground, you will need to replant new tulip bulbs each year in pots.

How to Plant Tulips in Pots

All tulips, whether planted directly in the ground or in pots need planting in the fall before the winter frost. This allows the bulbs time to develop roots and settle in the ground before temperatures drop. Then the following spring the bulbs will begin to grow shoots.

To provide enough space for each bulb to grow, tulips need to be planted at least 5cm apart. Each tulip can spread out to 10cm. Hence, you will need to take this into account when selecting your pot size.

If you wish for a large display of tulips, you will need a larger pot to accommodate for spreading tulips apart. Tulip bulbs also need to be planted at least 20cm deep to allow room for their roots and minimize overcrowding. 

Tulips will grow best in multipurpose compost which offers good drainage and a high level of nutrients. They are also best positioned in a sunny but sheltered spot within your garden. As tulips require some care over the winter, you may wish to place your pots within close proximity of your house. You can move your tulips to a preferred position after winter before they start to bloom.

spring tulips in pot

How to Care for Potted Tulips

Once your tulip bulbs are potted in Autumn, anywhere from mid-Autumn to November, they are mainly left till the following Spring.

Pots will need monitoring for moisture as the water drains away much more efficiently than in-ground soil. Your tulips will therefore need checking each week.

If the soil feels dry due to lack of rain, your tulips will need watering. If the soil is still moist, leave for another week before rechecking. Too much water will lead to your tulip bulbs rotting.

Add a layer of protection to your bulb by placing a layer of mulch on top of your soil. This will help to protect the bulbs from frost, heavy rains, and strong winds.

Once spring arrives, your tulips will begin sprouting sometimes as early as February depending upon your hardiness zone. The stems and leaves are hardy and so if you do end up with a sudden drop in temperature after they have emerged, they will survive and continue to grow.

Your tulips will take 4-5 weeks from the first signs of foliage for your flowers to bloom. They will require watering regularly throughout Spring.

Most tulips bloom from March to April, although this is weather-dependent. If the weather is cooler, your tulips will bloom for 1-2 weeks before signs of wilting.

Once they have finished flowering you have two choices:

1. Deadhead your tulips.

If you wish to replant your bulbs in Autumn, you can deadhead your tulips after they have finished flowering. Ensure to not remove or cut the stems whilst it remains green. This is a vital time when your tulip bulbs focus on storing energy for the following season.

After your stems have turned yellow, you can cut them back and remove the bulbs carefully. Ensure all of the stem and the flaky layer on your tulip bulbs have been removed before storing them in a cool, dark place.

The bulbs can then be replanted in Autumn.

2. Remove your tulips.

Although tulips are classed as perennial bulbs, they tend to not flower well after the first year. Many gardeners treat them as annuals and only grow them for one year. 

Wait until your tulips have finished flowering and then they can be deadheaded. You can leave the stems for foliage alongside other plants if you have added a variety of spring flowers to your pots. 

Once your stems have begun turning yellow, you can remove and dispose of the bulbs. You would then need to purchase new bulbs to be planted in Autumn.

Tulips Will Add Color To Your Spring Garden

Potted tulips are beautiful spring-flowering bulbs that can add a dramatic impact of color to your garden in early spring. However, to produce a successful bloom, you need to learn how to care for potted tulips.

tulips in pots

Ensure to remember to plant them at the right depth and water during the winter. During Spring, continue to water them and manage the flowers after they have finished blooming.

You can choose whether to treat them as perennials, or discard them at the end of the season and replace them with new bulbs in Autumn.

Take a look at the following posts for more bulbs that flower in Spring: