When to plant tulips – for flawless flora in the spring

Learn when to plant tulips for beautiful blooms in the springtime

Light and dark pink tulips on green stems
(Image credit: Alamy)

Tulips are renowned for their symmetrical flower buds and perfect appearance, so learning when to plant tulips for the best blooms is important for a well-manicured, colorful garden. 

Whilst you may know how to plant tulip bulbs, knowing the best time to plant tulip bulbs can make all the difference. Planting tulips too early can leave frost-damaged shoots, plant tulip bulbs too late and you may leave the bulbs susceptible to disease. 

To add these iconic flowers to your garden ideas and enjoy them in the springtime, use this guide to plant them at the perfect time.   

When to plant tulips 

Dark pink purple tulips with green stems

(Image credit: Alamy)

Blubs: ‘Dry tulip bulbs are some of the best spring bulbs, but need to be planted in colder months to bloom in time for spring,’ explains Rachel Crow, garden editor for Homes & Gardens. ‘Tulip bulbs are best planted in the fall between September to November when the bulb is dormant.’ This is the case for many different varieties of tulips, including species tulips.

It is possible to plant bulbs outside of these times however the soil should be at 60ºF or lower otherwise the bulbs are at risk of viral or fungal diseases such as tulip blight. In warmer states, these ideal temperatures might not be reached until December. Tulip blight has no chemical controls so prevention is the only solution.

‘If you buy your bulbs earlier than needed make sure to store them in a cool, dry, dark place, to protect them from damage before planting,’ Rachel adds. 

dark purple and white tulips with green stems

(Image credit: Alamy)

Starter plants: Store-bought tulips starters should be planted in the spring months, rather than the colder fall months, and can add an instant pop of color to your flower bed ideas as well as being brilliant additions to a wildlife garden idea. You may need to ease store-bought tulips into the cooler weather before transplanting them outside. It is worth noting that store-bought tulips are often forced tulips, and may not rebloom again for a year or two after transplanting as the bulb regains its energy.

Can you dig up tulips and replant them?  

You can dig up tulips once they have finished blooming, but it's best to then store them somewhere dry until replanting them in the fall.

'Wait for the tulips foliage to turn yellow or brown before digging them up. Digging up too early could mean the bulb does not have the chance to replenish itself and could kill the plant,' says Rachel.

Can tulips be moved when blooming?  

Tulips should not be moved when blooming. The best time to move tulip bulbs is whilst they are dormant, either long before or just after flowering. 

If you must move the tulip when in bloom, you must disturb the roots as little as possible and replant the bulb at the correct depth. This is incredibly difficult so it is best practice to leave your tulips until the following year. 

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.