Planting Tulips Ready For Spring

Tulips are a welcome splash of colour after a long winter, and with careful planning now you can ensure fantastic displays from early spring through to summer.

Did You Know?

Cultivation of the tulip began in Persia, probably in the 10th century. In the Ottoman Empire, numerous types of tulips were cultivated and bred, and today, 14 species can still be found in Turkey.

Bulb Planting


Check Bulbs
Check the bulbs for damage and discard any which aren’t healthy.


Planting tulips in October and November reduces the risk of your plants contracting the fungal disease ‘tulip fire’.

1) Choose an area of rich, well-drained soil. Tulips will not tolerate overly wet soils or a windy position.

2) When preparing the border for planting, incorporate plenty of humus into the soil, especially if planting in clay soil.

Tulips From Seed
Tulips can be grown from seed, but they take around 7 years until they are mature enough to produce flowers.


3) Plant the bulbs with a Bulb Planting Tool. This will enable you to cut out a cylinder of soil without compacting the soil around where the bulb is to be planted. If the ground surrounding the bulb is too compact, the roots will struggle to establish themselves.

4) Plant the bulbs twice the width of the bulb apart, and twice the height of the bulb deep.

Tulip Varieties

Tulip flowers are categorised as being either single or double. The shapes of the flowers are described as being cup-shaped, bowl-shaped or goblet-shaped: fringed, parrot or lily-flowered: long, slender-tepalled or star-shaped. The 15 divisions are listed below:

spring tulips bulb plantingSingle Early: Cup-shaped flowers (7.5cm wide). Grow 30-60cm high and flower in early spring.

Double Early: Have a double flower (7.5-10cm wide). Grow 30cm tall and flower in mid spring.

Triumph: Single long flowers (7.5cm wide). Grow to 30-60cm high and flower mid-late spring.

Darwin Hybrids: Large goblet flowers (15-20cm wide). Grow to 50-70cm high and flower in late spring.

Single Late: Long, slender-tepalled flowers (7.5cm wide). Grow to 80cm high and flower in late spring.

Lily Flowered: Lily shaped flowers (15cm wide). Grow to 50-60cm high, flowering in late spring.

Fringed: The edges of these tulips petals are very sharply fringed and vary in size. They grow to 80cm high and flower in late spring.

Spring Tulips

Viridiflora: The flowers of this type have green streaks running up the edge of the flower which appear to be a continuation of the stem. They grow to 80cm high and flower in late spring.

Rembrandt: The flowers of this variety were affected by a virus which gave them the appearance of having random blotches and streaks - modern varieties are no longer affected by the virus. They grow to 80cm and flower in late spring.

Parrot: Large often bi-coloured flowers which are twisted and ruffled to resemble feathers. They grow to 80cm and flower in late spring.

Double Late: Large peony shaped flowers (12cm wide). Grows to 60cm high and flowers in late spring.

Group 1 (early)
Single Early, Kaufmanniana, Greigii

Group 2 (mid)
Double Early, Triumph, Fosteriana

Group 3 (late)

Darwin Hybrids, Single Late, Lily Flowered, Fringed, Viridiflora, Rembrandt, Parrot, Double Late


Kaufmanniana Hybrids: Waterlily or star shaped flowers, the leaves are also usually streaked with a reddish purple colour. Grows to 25cm high and flowers in early spring.

Fosteriana Hybrids: Slender flowers which open wide in full sun. Grow to 40cm and flower in mid spring.

Greigii Hybrids: Wavy edged goblet flowers streaked with bold purple/maroon stripes. Grow to 30cm high and flower early spring.

Species Tulips: Miscellaneous varieties which are usually smaller and much rarer than the other varieties.

Bulb Planter

Featured Product: Bulb Planter
This robust hand-held Bulb Planter makes short work of planting bulbs, and is endorsed by the RHS.


Creating A Display

Tulips give a colourful display early in the season. With planning you can ensure a colourful display lasting from early March to late May. Pick a selection from each of the three groups below, this will ensure that as one variety flowers there is another ready to take its place.

Choosing The Right Variety

Tulips have been cultivated for centuries, which mean there are many different varieties available. Tulips are divided into 15 divisions depending on their flower type and flowering time. Tulips have three flowering periods: early spring (March), mid spring (April), late spring (May).

Some of the varieties here are low growing where as others grow much taller. The Kaufmanniana bulbs should be planted in front of single early varieties otherwise they will be blocked. Two varieties which we love are ‘sorbet’ of the Rembrandt tulips which produces white flowers with flashes of red and ‘stresa’ of the kaufmanniana tulips. This is a very early flowering variety which grows very low, making it an ideal companion plant for early spring crocuses.

Need further help?

Our Gardening Angels are here to help you grow strong, healthy plants with bumper harvests. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any questions on 0845 602 3774 or drop us an email at We’re always here to help!