plants. gardens. friends.

digthedirt is about gardening, outdoor living and loving our planet!

learn more »

Planting tulips for our organic pick your own tulip garden

by jeroen koeman (TulipMan)

Digging the Dirt!
« 1 of 4 »

To be honest, it is a long time ago that I planted tulips by hand. Last time I remember was together with my dad when I was a 11 year old kid in my parents front yard... After that I learned how to drive a tractor and plant tulips with the &quot;big guys&quot; in the &quot;big field&quot;. Planting 10 acre a day, about 2 million tulips! <br/> <br/>

Planting as many as 40,000 tulips by hand is something I never did before, I thought that's an easy job for the Tulipman... But unfortunately it does cost a little more time and energy as expected. In the weekends my wife helps me, it is now December 18th and we planted about 30,000 tulips. Almost done!

Some of you might think, isn't it too late to plant tulips? The answer is yes and no. For the best results, it is too late to plant bulbs which aren't pre-cooled. Since December 1st I store all my bulbs in a climate controlled room at 45 degrees. So the bulbs knows it is winter and time for a winter sleep...

As long you store the bulbs under the right conditions, you can plant till mid January or even later, without any quality loss.

A lot of people in the US plant too early. I think this is because all the big bulb companies start to distribute their bulbs right after Labor Day nation wide when it is in some areas still 100 degrees! It is like Christmas stuff, every bulb company wants to sell their stuff first…

Some planting advice of the Tulipman:

  1. Plant tulips when the soil temperature is below 55 degrees. For the best results don’t plant when it is in October still 70/80 degrees. Bulbs don’t like to be warm and wet. An other advantage of planting late is that you have less chance that squirrels eat your bulbs. When the soil is cold squirrels don’t smell the bulbs as much.
  2. You can plant tulips as long the soil is not frozen. You can plant right before heavy frost, when you plant deep 6-8 inches and or apply 2-6 inches of mulch to protect them. Tulips need 4-6 weeks soil of 32-55 degrees to grow roots. After the bulbs have grown healthy roots they are hardy to frost.
  3. After January 1st you can’t plant regular bulbs. You need to use (buy) pre-cooled bulbs. For the best results pre-cool bulbs by December 1st.

If you have questions please contact me at



this is the best information. thank you so much for all the tips! can&#x27;t wait to see my eco tulips in the spring!
FigTree commented on 12/20/09
Me too! I want to see the photos!!
Lily replied: on 12/20/09
doesn't that sound weirdly fun though? Would love to go help one year just to see what it was like... does that make me strange?
FigTree replied: on 12/20/09
Tulipman, I&#x27;m speechless! I can only imagine the feeling of accomplishment you must have...and will continue to enjoy when you see the fruits of your labor! VERY impressive!!! I&#x27;m looking forward to more photos!!!
Lily commented on 12/19/09
Wow, Tulipman, my back aches just thinking about all that work! Hopefully, you can post pictures of the bloom in spring. Can&#x27;t wait to see them!
Daylilyjoy commented on 12/19/09
This article was very helpful. My husband and I just planted a small package of bulbs for the first time in our garden, plus I accidentally (yet quite funny) ordered another 500 tulip bulbs that will be arriving this week. We live in Corona, CA (USDA hardiness zone 9b and heat tolerance zone 9). The information you provided has assured me that our soil is entering the best time for us to plant the multitude of bulbs that we are expecting. That you so much for your contribution.
LilyLover commented on 12/18/09