When to plant tulips?

Tulips of Turkey

Everybody thinks that tulips come from Holland. Actually, Tulips are native to Central Asia and Turkey. In the 16th Century they were brought to Holland from Turkey, and quickly became widely popular. Today Tulips are cultivated in Holland in great numbers and in huge fields. Dutch bulbs, including tulips and daffodils, are exported all around the world so people think that it’s originated from there as well. In fact many cultivated varieties were widely grown in Turkey long before they were introduced to European gardens.

In the 17th century the overgrown interest and high popularity of Tulips brought a sort of “Tulipmania” in Holland. Especially in 1637 bulbs were highly praised and prices gone up day by day reaching extraordinary numbers. Bulbs were sold by weight, usually while they were still in the ground. Some examples could cost more than a house at this time. The Dutch government unsuccessfully tried to outlaw this commerce but couldn’t do anything to stop it, the trade was all about access and demand. But the end of the game came quick: Over-supply led to lower prices and dealers went bankrupt and many people lost their savings because of the trade, and the tulip market crashed.

Also in the Turkish history tulips played an interesting role. The period in our history between 1718-1730 is called the “Tulip Era”, under the reign of sultan Ahmed III. This period is also expressed as an era of peace and enjoyment. Tulips became and important style of life within the arts, folklore and the daily life. Many embroidery and textile clothing handmade by woman, carpets, tiles, miniatures etc. had tulip designs or shapes, large tulip gardens around the Golden Horn were frequented by upscale people, and so on. Also, the first printing house was founded by Ibrahim Müteferrika in Istanbul. The Tulip Era was brought to an end after the Patrona Halil revolt in 1730, ending with the de-thronation of the Sultan.

The botanical name for tulips, Tulipa, is derived from the Turkish word “tulbend” or “turban”, which the flower resembles. It’s considered as the King of Bulbs.

There are early, mid, and late blooming varieties of tulips. They come in a huge variety of bright colors, including white, yellow, pink, red, black, purple, orange, bi-colors, and more. There is a profusion of mixed colours to select from, too. A special breed from Manisa is called as Anemon.

Tulips should be planted as soon as they are purchased in the Autumn. But they can also be forced to bloom indoors during winter months. After blooming, let the plant continue to grow until it dies off. During the post bloom period, the plant is sending energy to the bulb to store for use next spring.

Where Do Tulips Come From?

A beautiful flower, with a surprisingly exciting history, the question “where do tulips come from” has actually been asked enough to have a whole field of literature written about it. There are two main answers, depending on the specific question. If you are asking “where do tulips come from originally?” the short answer is Turkey and Central Asia.

However, the more common query of “where do tulip bulbs come from?” points to the Netherlands, with the Dutch supplying two billion cut tulips annually, nearly 80% of the world market.

Starting from its history, we can trace the tulip by following the major events associated with the flower.

  • Native to Central Asia and Turkey.
  • Cultivation probably began around the 10th
  • They became extremely popular in the 16th century in Turkey.
  • In the 1590’s the first tulip bulbs are cultivated in the Netherlands.
  • The 1620s and 1630s in Holland see the boom of Tulipomania.
  • 1730, the end of the Tulip Era in Turkey.
  • First arrival of tulips in the USA with Dutch settlers in late 17th

Where Do Tulips Come From Originally?

As with any question of origin, the answer to where tulips come from is quite long and complicated. Taxonomically, the tulip flower is a member of the lily (Liliaceae family) and its genus itself contains around 75 species. Due to this, there is actually a huge swathe of land where it could be said that the tulip comes from originally.

Its natural environments stretch from modern-day Turkey right across Central Asia, as well as including parts of Southern Europe.

Thus, it was the Ottoman Empire based around Turkey, the Middle East and Arabia which became the first to significantly cultivate tulips and make them part of their culture. In fact, the name tulip itself comes from the Persian word for turban. It was the style in the 15th and 16th century for fashionable Ottoman officials to wear a tulip in their turban, but when foreign diplomats asked about the flower, they were given the name of the garment, a tulben, instead, thus reporting back to Europe that that was the name of the plant.

Where Do Tulips Come From Now?

Though they had been noted around Europe from the middle of the 16th century, it was when they arrived in the Netherlands that they found their true home. The amazingly flat and fertile lowlands of the area proved to be perfect for growing the flowers, but what made a similar difference was the growing middle class of Dutch society, which took heartily to the fantastic coloring and natural variation of the flower.

The tulip became the ultimate fashion must-have in Dutch society, with buyers throwing crazy money at simple bulbs, with one report saying that over $2,000, with a carriage and a horse thrown into the bargain, was given for a particularly rare Rembrandt bulb. The price frenzy was fueled by rampant speculation and like all bubbles, an idea that prices would only ever keep rising. So, to many, it made sense to mortgage their houses to buy a handful of flower bulbs, except that’s not how bubbles work and eventually they all have to pop.

That’s what happened in 1637 when the Tulipomania bubble crashed and many rich merchants were all of a sudden broke. The mania, price-rises and curious product at the heart of the craze have meant that it is commonly cited and written about by financial authors.

Despite the crash, the seeds (or bulbs) had been sown and Holland’s love affair with the tulip was irreversible, setting it out as the number one destination for tulips in the world.

Where Do Tulip Bulbs Come From?

If you are buying tulips, either as cut flowers or as bulbs to grow yourself, they will more than likely have originated in the Netherlands. The country produces about nine billion bulbs a year and is by far the biggest exporter to the USA.

Thankfully these beautiful flowers are not nearly as expensive as they once were, but still have the same bright colors and delicate petals that made them such a hit with big-money investors in the Middle Ages.

However if you like to have tulips in your life, Bouqs has the answers. Our nationwide team of florists are experts at creating boutique Bouqs that make the most of everything the beautiful tulip has to offer. Get in touch with our team or check out our fantastic tulip bouquet designs to see what suits your style best.

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Tulip pointers for beginners | The Sacramento Bee

Tulip bulbs should be chilled before planting. Bigstock

Experts tackle readers’ garden questions.

Q: My sister brought me tulip bulbs from Holland. I don’t want to make a mistake in planting. Can they go in planters, or only in the ground? How deep do I put the bulb? Is there something I have to put with the bulb (fertilizer, bone meal)?

Lynda Rose, Rocklin

Bee garden writer Debbie Arrington: Lucky you! First, put the tulip bulbs in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. They’ll think they’re experiencing a Dutch winter. They need four to six weeks of chilling, so mark it on your calendar when to take them out. Make sure there are no apples or pears in the fridge; they release ethylene gas that will cause the bulbs to rot.

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After that chill, you can plant the tulips outdoors directly in the ground or in a pot or planter. That container planting can be kept outside or indoors, as long as the tulips can get bright light after they sprout. Plant the bulbs three times deeper than the height of the bulb (about 4 inches, 6 inches for really big tulips). Make sure the pointy end is pointed up. If you want potted tulips to bloom indoors faster, plant them shallow, only an inch deep.

Add a little bone meal or bulb food to the soil before planting; that will help the bulb produce bigger blooms and come back again next year. Other than that, they need no additional fertilizer. As for irrigation, water them once when you plant, then wait to see the green sprouts before watering again. Then, water once or twice a week. If planted in a pot, water the unsprouted bulbs just enough to keep the soil from drying out, then water twice a week after sprouting.

In Sacramento (or Rocklin), you can plant bulbs in the ground right up to New Year’s Day and still have spring blooms. Or you can plant them in a pot (even in January) for blooms indoors or outside.

If planted outdoors in December, tulips usually bloom in late March or early April.

Sacramento Bee garden writer Debbie Arrington is a consulting rosarian and lifelong gardener. Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington.

Garden questions?

Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties. Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to h&[email protected] Please put “Garden Detective” in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact UC Extension directly, call:

How-To Video: Planting Fall Bulbs

We call them “fall bulbs”, but they’re really fall-planted, spring-blooming bulbs. Classics like tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, freesias, Dutch irises, paperwhites etc.


  • Buy only firm bulbs. Squeeze them. If they’re soft, they’re not fresh.
  • In California, tulips, crocuses need chilling. Put them in the fridge—NOT the freezer!—until late December, then plant
  • All others plant as soon as you buy them
  • Bulbs look best planted in groups of the same kind. Better to buy one kind and more of them, than just a few of lots of types.

Soil Preparation

  • Bulbs must have good drainage. If you have heavy (clay) soil, amend it. Lots.
  • Bulbs need full sun or half-day sun.
  • They need to dry out between watering.
  • They like rich soil. Lots of organic amendment.


  • Pointy end up.
  • General rule, plant three times the height of the bulb deep. I.e., 1-inch bulb, three inches deep.
  • EBS Bulb Food at bottom of hole.
  • Cluster 2- to 3-inches apart.
  • Firm amended soil on top


  • Water once well. Then let fall and winter rains do the rest
  • In bloom: water once a week.


  • Feed at planting time
  • In early spring (once they sprout leaves.)

After Bloom Care

  • Cut of the dead flowers.
  • DON’T cut of leaves. (Except tulips—OK.) They’re storing energy to bloom next year!
  • Once foliage yellows, cut it off.
  • They’ll pop up next spring and surprise you.

DEAR GARDEN COACH: I planted tulips a couple of years ago and the first year they were beautiful. Last winter they were very small. Should I replant?

Flower Lover, Pittsburg

DEAR FLOWER LOVER: Tulips are native to areas where there are cold winters, which means not just the air, but the ground temperature as well. Tulips need this chill in order to grow and reproduce.

I grew up in Pennsylvania where my mother had stunning tulip beds in the spring, but here I treat them as an annual plant because having successive years of growth would mean digging them up each spring, storing for the summer and then chilling in the refrigerator for a couple of months before planting again.

Remember, if you buy them from a nursery, you should keep them in your refrigerator until our soil temperatures drop in November. Don’t store them near apples and other fruits, which give off an ethylene gas, a natural by-product of ripening fruit. The gas will delay or kill the tulip flower.

DEAR GARDEN COACH: I have had a hummingbird feeder in my backyard for more than five years with considerable success. I had a Bullock’s oriole who was eating all the nectar. It has left and I now a new, more difficult nemesis — bees, that disallow the hummingbirds to feed.

I know of no way to rid the feeder of them. Can you help?

Richard Bothman, Bay Area

DEAR RICHARD: Lucky you, to have such a beautiful bird in your yard. Bullock’s orioles love sweet nectar and tend to gobble up all the food for hummingbirds. When they are traveling through this year you may want to set out some oranges or other citrus for them to eat.

As for your bees, I’m going to start with a Mark Twain quote: “If honeybees were to go extinct, the human race would follow in four years.” The first thing you should do is identify whether you have honey bees at your feeder or yellow jackets. If it is yellow jackets then you should set up traps for catching them.

There are a couple types of feeders; inverted and saucer type. The inverted types are typically bottle-shaped while the saucer shaped are larger and easier to fill and clean. However, because the saucer-type feeder has a flat surface the bees can move around easier and get to the nectar.

Many feeders include a feeding port that is a lovely yellow flower, which is a color that attracts honey bees, wasps and other insects. If your feeder has these yellow flowers you might consider changing to another feeder style. Mine has silvery-red flowers for the ports.

You also can try nectar guards made specifically for deterring bees and ants, but I have not any experience using them.

Moving your feeders to a shady spot in your garden might reduce bee activity. Honeybees prefer sunny spots for gathering nectar, most pollinator gardens are designed in sunny areas so If the bees are persistent you could put in flowers that they like.

Honey bees are often attracted to the feeders if there is not another food source in the area. In my garden I have many flowering plants that the bees and other pollinators love so they don’t seem interested in my hummingbird feeder.

Send your gardening questions to [email protected]

How to Grow Tulips

If your goal is to grow tulips from seed, plant a separate plot of tulips just for seed collection. You can propagate many more plants from seed than from bulb offsets and most tulips readily produce seed. Seeds produce surprises.

Pests/Disease: Tulips pests include aphids, bulb mites, thrips, rodents and deer. Control measures are:

  • Aphids – squash between fingers or wash off with a water spray
  • Bulb mites – inspect bulbs when purchasing for signs of decay, heat treat bulbs in 120°F water for 2 minutes to kill mites
  • Thrips – enlist ladybugs and green lacewings to eradicate these sapsuckers, place bright yellow and blue wooden paint stirrers coated with petroleum jelly to trap thrips
  • Rodents – cover bulb zone with chicken wire embedded beneath surface; plant bulbs 12” deep; spray bulb or area with deterrents like cayenne pepper, human urine, animal hair; interplant tulips with bulbs rodents won’t eat such as allium, crocus, daffodil, fritillaria, and hyacinth
  • Deer – 8” fencing works best

Two serious fungal diseases affecting tulips are tulip fire and grey bulb.

Symptoms include:

  • twisted, withered, distorted foliage soon after emergence
  • brown spots on foliage
  • rot spots on flowers
  • fuzzy grey mold on dead foliage
  • black seed-like fungal spores on dead zones

Control fungal diseases by inspecting bulb surfaces for signs of decay when purchasing and removing and destroying infected specimens. Do not replant tulips in contaminated site for at least three years. Good air circulation around plants reduces the risk of fungal diseases.

Tulip virus manifests itself in streaked, flamed, or feathered flower petals and distorted growth. Affected bulbs must be destroyed. Control of aphids and thrips reduces disease risk.

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Recommended Planting Time
It is best to monitor the temperature of the soil to determine when it is the best time to plant tulip bulbs. Planting is a good idea when the soil’s temperature is below 50ºF, as the bulbs need to start making roots before the start of the winter. Only in the cold winter they can prepare for their flowering.
If you live somewhere where your winters aren’t cold enough for a long enough time, you can also put the bulbs in the refrigerator for at least six to eight weeks prior to planting (then plant the bulbs in late December or early January).

Soil Conditions
No particular soil is required for planting flower bulbs, as long it is well-drained. Like sandy soil that drains rain water well. Also a clay-like, well drained, airy soil is much appreciated by tulips. If necessary, peat can improve the soil’s composition. Heavy clay soil benefits from the addition of sand, because this improves drainage. Tulips do not tolerate stagnant water.
The best soil for planting in pots is potting soil. This soil is richer, cleaner, more insect- and disease free, and less stable than the soil in the garden. It retains water for a long time, which prevents the bulbs from drying out.

Planting Depth and Distance

For best results, loosen the soil around 10” deep before planting. Add some mulch if the structure needs loosening. The spacing of the bulbs depends on the visual effect you are looking for. If you mix varieties that have sequential bloom times, plant the bulbs very close to each other (minimum distance is half-inch). This prolongs the flowering period!

Tulip bulbs are best planted at a depth of 6”, possibly even deeper. If you want to let the tulips grow wild (keep them for a number of years), planting deeper (up to 12“) is certainly an option. Smaller bulbs can be scattered, but plant larger bulbs in an upright position with the tip/point facing upwards. Although the tulip will also grow the other way around, with the tip upwards you have the best result. If necessary, add one tablespoon of bone meal per bulb. After the bulbs are planted, water the tulip bed thoroughly until the soil is well moistened. This is to stimulate root formation. Cover the ground with a 1” layer of mulch to protect the soil and retain moisture. They automatically come up when it is spring. You can then fertilize them, but don’t overdo it.


Many bulbs are perennial and can be left in the soil to return for years. Under the right circumstances the bulbs will soon multiply and come back in following years, like they have always been a part of the landscape. It is vitally important that the foliage is allowed to die down. The look of browning foliage is all part of the process. Make sure to add a slow-acting fertilizer when the bulbs emerge from the soil as well as after flowering.

Then, when the first leaves begin to fall, cut off the tulip stems and remove the petals from the bed. The tulip will no longer waste energy on the flower when you remove it, and removing the petals from the bed keeps the garden tidy and prevents bacteria formation. Non-flowering single-leaved shoots are leftovers of weak or old bulbs and can also be removed.

You can even take the flower bulb out of the ground, get rid of unnecessary pieces (outer skirt, small balls, stem) and replant in the autumn. Or leave them in the ground for 2-3 years and let them continue to produce flowers (although the tulips will be smaller every year).

In a brief overview

  • Plant the bulbs when the soil’s temperature is below 50ºF (or put them in the fridge and plant the bulbs later)

  • Plant the bulbs in well-drained, airy soil. If necessary, add peat to improve the composition or sand to improve drainage.

  • Loosen the soil around 10” deep before planting. Add some mulch if the structure needs loosening.

  • Plant the bulbs half-inch from each other when mixing varieties of tulips.

  • Plant the bulbs at a depth of 6”. If you keep them in the ground, plant them up to 12” deep.

  • Plant larger bulbs with the tip upwards, smaller bulbs can be scattered. If necessary, add one tablespoon of bone meal per bulb.

  • After planting, water the bed thoroughly until the soil is well moistened.

  • Cover the ground with a 1” layer of mulch to protect the soil and retain moisture.

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Friday – March 27, 2009

From: The Villages, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: How to grow tulips and daffodils in Central Florida.
Answered by: Joe Marcus


My question is how can you grow tulips and daffdoils in central Florida, just south of Ocala, a place called the Villages? I am from the Washington, DC area and truly miss these flowers, any help would be GREATLY APPRECIATED. Thank You.


Neither tulips nor daffodils are native to North America. As such, they are really outside of our area of expertise. However, we can give you some general advice that might help.

Central Florida is really too far south for tulips to perennialize, that is, come back year after year. You can purchase potted tulips and plant them out as very short-lived annuals, but that is about as well as you’re likely to do with them in Ocala. The University of Florida Extension Service has published a nice online article on Bulbs for Florida.

While tricky, it is possible to grow some daffodils in Florida. A great resource for you is the website of the Florida Daffodil Society. Additionally, you can find some excellent growing guidelines at the website of the American Daffodil Society.

As champions of native plants, we would be remiss in passing up an opportunity to encourage you to discover the joys of Central Florida’s native flora – plants truly in their place. A great place to start and a wonderful resource is the Marion County chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society!

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