Timesaving Tulip Bulb Planting Tips ~ Timesaving tips for planting tulip bulbs so you have gorgeous healthy tulips growing in your garden every spring!
I recently planted 90 newly purchased tulip bulbs! I love growing tulips because they are so pretty blooming in the spring garden. Once they have been planted they are also pretty low maintenance to look after. But it is the planting process that can be a bit labour intensive especially if you are planting a lot of bulbs.
I have been planting tulip bulbs for quite a few years and I have figured out through trial and error some tips to make the job a little bit easier. Here are my…
Timesaving Tulip Bulb Planting Tips
Start With Healthy Bulbs
I don’t know if you know this but tulip bulbs are a bit different than other bulbs. I used to be under the impression that they were a perennial and once you stuck a tulip bulb in the ground it would bloom year after year. But this is not the case with all types of tulip bulbs. The new tulips are actually only designed to last one or two years. Even digging them up and splitting them does not create gorgeous blooms over time. I write more about this in DIY Fall Bulb Planting Garden Markers.
My tulip bulbs tend to produce a healthy looking plant and flower for two years. After that the tulip becomes a dreary looking bud with droopy looking leaves. Rather than have these non-event flowers take up space and nutrients in the garden I dig them up and planting fresh new bulbs every fall.
Plant Tulip Bulbs In A Mass Or Clusters
It takes a lot of time to plant one tulip bulb at a time and nor does it look very showy. That being said I have a friend who has planted her tulips in a narrow strip that runs along her front walkway and it does look very pretty every spring. I don’t really have the space in my garden to dedicate to one big mass of tulips. As you can see it is quite a large garden that runs a long the back of property. It is filled with mostly perennials that bloom at different times throughout the growing season and take up most of the space.
This is what the garden looks like in autumn.
I like to plant my tulips in clusters. This way the tulips create a burst of colour in different locations throughout the colour. The tulips I planted this year are a deep pink so they will be a really pretty addition. It is also easier for me to know where the clusters are located in the garden rather than single tulips splattered everywhere. Lastly, it is a lot quicker to dig up a few bigger holes rather than a whole bunch of little holes.
Use Ceramic Floor Tiles
I came up with this idea a couple of years ago and it really is a timesaver when planting tulip bulbs in clusters. I have some 13” x 13” tiles stored in the garage that are leftover from when we had some floors retiled in the house. This is how I use them.
I place them in the garden where I want to create the tulip clusters. For this year’s tulip bulb planting I created 10 clusters of nine tulips. So before actually starting to dig the holes I placed the ceramic floor tiles in the garden where I wanted to plant the clusters.
The package instructions indicated the tulip bulbs needed to be planted 5” apart. The 13” x 13” ceramic floor tiles were also a perfect size for me to get an idea of how the nine tulips would look and fit in each location.
Use A Shovel To Dig The Holes
I like to use a straight edge shovel to dig the holes. It makes digging easier and faster compared to a small hand trowel. The straight edge does a nice job of creating fairly straight sides in the dug hole.
Dig A Baseline Hole
The package instructions also said the tulip bulbs needed to be planted in a 6” deep hole. So I used the ceramic tile as a quick tool to measure how big to make the hole needed to be. I also used a ruler to get an idea of what exactly 6” looks like.
The other timesaving thing I did was as I was digging I placed the soil that came from the hole into a large plant pot. Once the hole was dug to the correct size I now had a quick visual for how much soil came out of the hole by how full the plant pot was.
Now that the baseline hole was dug I had two quick references to use to make sure the next nine holes were dug to the correct size. I used the ceramic floor tile for the size of the hole and I gauged how deep the hole was by how much soil was in the plant pot. This helped me stay pretty accurate and saved a lot of time not having to measure each hole for width, length and depth each time.
Loosen The Removed Soil While In The Plant Pot
Before returning the soil to the dug hole, this was a perfect time to loosen any clumps of soil that were dug up. I just took my straight edge shovel and pushed it up and down in the plant pot. This was so easy and quick to do and a real timesaver.
Planting The Tulip Bulbs
Placing the tulip bulbs in the hole is really easy now that you have a nice hole dug to the correct measurements. I first threw in a couple of handfuls of compost and about a tablespoon of bone meal. This I loosely mixed it into the soil at the bottom of the hole with my hand. Compost and bone meal are natural soil amendments that help give the tulip bulbs a good healthy start.
I placed the bulbs top side up in the soil. I varied how they were placed in the different holes to create variety. Some of the tulips were planted like this….
… and some of the tulips were planted like this.
Return The Soil
Use your hands to scoop some soil being stored temporarily in the plant pot and gently toss it over top of the bulbs. Add enough of this first layer of soil to cover the bulbs. Gently pat down the soil with your hands, making sure not to move the bulbs. Now take the plant pot and pour the rest of the soil over top to fill up the hole. Walk over the soil and gently stamp your feet to help settle the replaced soil. Simply pouring the soil from the plant pot is a real timesaver too!
Water And Mulch
Water the newly planted tulips with enough water to give the bulbs a good drink but not a good soaking. Then cover the area with some mulch.
Insert A Garden Marker
Once the tulip bulbs have been planted and covered with mulch I honestly forget what I planted where. So I made some DIY Tulip Bulb Garden Markers that identify the colour, flower type and what year they were planted. This helps me keep track of how old the tulips bulbs are. The tulips bulbs I planted this year will be dug up in two years and replaced with new healthy bulbs!
Next year I will use the same timesaving tulip bulb planting tips that I shared here with you and plant another 90 – 100 bulbs. But they will be a different colour and will be planted in different clusters. I will know hold old these bulbs are by their colour and the garden marker that identifies the year they were planted. With this staggered approach I will always have about 200 gorgeous tulips growing in the garden each year.
Keeping It Real: I am dismal working with a shovel. Next time I am getting my husband to help who is so quick when it comes to digging. He worked for a landscaping firm during his summer jobs while in university and still has pretty awesome digging skills. It took me about two hours to do the job on my own. I looked at it as if it was a great workout session. It would have been a 30-minute job if my husband was available to help.
A Little Bit About Me: I think I inherited my love for growing tulips because I am from a Dutch background. I was born in Canada but I still have a lot of family and ties to Holland. I grew up in a very Dutch household where I learned to understand and speak Dutch at home and still do today. I have been to Holland several times over the years but I have yet to visit the beautiful botanical Keukenhof Gardens where every year they showcase 7 million spring flowering bulbs.
Your Turn: What are your timesaving tulip bulb planting tips? Where and how do you plant your tulips in the garden? Are you a fan of singles, clusters or in a mass? Have you been to the Keukenhof Gardens?
I am a real fan of amending the soil and mulching my garden. They are excellent ways to keep the weeds out. To find out more I invite you to read…
I also like to make my own compost. I have learned through trial and error this easy to do system. Interestingly, I also add amendments to my compost…