Tulips are delightful flowers and there’s nothing better than to see these cheery blossoms popping out after a cold winter season. If you’re like us, then you’d probably find having tulips to be a wonderful addition to any and all rooms in the spring. Growing tulips indoors is actually similar to growing them outdoors, and they’re a fairly easy plant to grow. To help you along, we have carefully curated our best practices when it comes to tulips.
Choose Your Tulip Bulbs
It’s important to get good healthy bulbs if you want to have strong, healthy plants. Look out for any signs of damage or decay as these may not grow well. Avoid getting bulbs that have soft spots or mold as well. Healthy bulbs should feel firm while being pleasantly heavy for their size
When it comes to the type of tulips that are typically grown indoors, you can look for ones that grow especially well in your climate. While there are lots of colors and varieties of tulip bulbs you can choose from, here are some of our favorites:
- ‘Red Riding Hood’ has bright red petals with a wonderfully compact size that makes it perfect for indoor containers.
- ‘Apricot Beauty’ delights with its apricot-colored petals with hints of pink.
- ‘Merry Go Round’ dazzles with its unique bi-color petals that range from creamy white to deep pink, adding the perfect pop to indoor spaces.
- ‘Pink Impression’ provides romance with its large, soft pink blooms that can grow up to 6 inches in diameter.
- ‘Orange Emperor’ adds a burst of color with its bright orange petals and tall stature.
Larger bulbs typically produce larger flowers. If you’re going for a show-stopping indoor garden, then you need to pick bigger bulbs. Some great options include Greigii tulips, which are shorter and more compact, and Fosteriana tulips, which produce large, showy blooms.
If you have your bulbs and you’re not ready to plant them just yet, then keep them in a cool dry place. This will keep them from drying out or rotting well before being planted.
Choose The Right Container
Growing tulips indoors means placing them in containers that will support healthy growth. Look for pots that are at least six inches deep with a good number of drainage holes. We can’t emphasize how important drainage is when it comes to the overall health of your tulip bulbs as overly moist soil will kill them.
If your pot or container has few drainage holes, then this could cause the soil to hold excess moisture. This can cause the bulbs to become waterlogged, which can lead to eventual rot and death. In these cases, you can add a few more drainage holes, or, switch to a moisture-wicking material like terra cotta.
Another thing you might need to consider is the size of your container, not just its depth. Some tulip varieties can grow tall and need a larger pot to keep them upright. Look for containers that can support their growth and prevent the plants from toppling over when they mature.
When it comes to the material, you have a lot of options. Many homeowners love using baskets and vases, but traditional pots are always an option. You’ll need to remember that while these can be decorative, you have to make sure that they have sufficient drainage and are deep enough.
Use Healthy Soil
Aside from containers with adequate drainage holes, you also have to use potting soil that has excellent draining properties. This means that the soil has to hold enough water without drowning the roots of your tulip bulbs. A well-draining soil mix will also allow air to circulate around the roots, encouraging healthy growth and nutrient absorption.
You can find soils that are specifically formulated for bulbs, which are often sold at garden centers and online. Usually, these types of soil have a good balance of nutrients while being loose and well-draining. As always, purchase from a trusted seller or vendor.
However, if these specialty soil mixes are hard to find in your area, you can use a general-purpose potting soil mix. To make it more well-draining, add in some perlite, vermiculite, or coarse garden sand.
Plant Your Tulip Bulbs
Now that you have your bulbs, containers, and soil ready, you can begin to plant your tulip bulbs. One important quirk of tulips is that they will only sprout when exposed to several months of cold.
To replicate this, take your planted bulbs as described below, and leave them in a cool location for 3-4 months. This can be a spare room in your home, but areas like a garage are a bit cooler and better. This is an essential step, and skipping it will lead to plants that might not bloom. During this time, keep your plants in the dark and away from any sunlight.
When planting, make sure to plant each bulb four to six inches below the surface of the soil. Keep each bulb at least an inch away from the one beside it so that your plants have enough room to grow.
Make sure that the pointed end faces upward. The pointed tip is where the leaves and flowers will eventually grow from. The bottom part of the bulb is where the roots will come out. If you accidentally plant your bulbs upside down, they will still grow, but it will take them longer to come out of the soil.
Once your tulip bulbs are in place, cover them with soil and gently press down. This will remove any air pockets in the soil and set the bulbs securely in place. Leave them in a cool, dark, dry, place for a few months as noted above
Water Your Tulips
Tulips need regular watering to grow and bloom. However, it’s also equally important not to overwater them. When the bulbs are exposed to constantly wet soil, it can cause them to soften and rot. Eventually, the plant will die from rot.
When watering your plants, slowly pour water over the soil until it is moist but not soaking wet. Once you see the water begin to seep from the drainage holes of your container you should stop watering. Depending on the temperature and humidity, watering can be as regular as every day to every few days.
To determine your watering schedule, simply check the soil. Stick your finger into the soil about an inch deep. If the soil feels dry, then you need to water the soil. If it still feels moist, then you can check the next day to see if the soil has dried and needs watering.
Provide Adequate Light
Plants need light to grow, and tulips are no exception. In fact, they need a lot of light in order to produce their slender green leaves and colorful flowers. Where possible, place them in a sunny spot, such as near a window. Look for areas that receive six to eight hours of sun daily.
If this is difficult for you, then you might want to get a grow light to make up for the lack of sun. Grow lights are designed to mimic the natural light from the sun so that you don’t have to worry if your interior spaces are not bright enough. Give your tulip plants around 12 to 16 hours of grow light exposure daily.
Provide Ideal Growing Temperature and Humidity
Temperature and humidity play important roles in the overall growth and health of tulips as well. Ideally, they should be exposed to indoor temperatures of 60 F to 70 F. Tulips are native to cool climates and will not tolerate heat very well.
When it comes to humidity, keep it around 40 percent to 60 percent when growing tulips indoors. If you think that your interior humidity is too low, then you can amend that by regularly spraying your tulip plants with water. Alternatively, you can use a tray of water or a humidifier to increase the air moisture content.
Prune When Needed
Tulips don’t need pruning most of the time. This is because they usually don’t grow to be very tall. However, there are some varieties that do end up quite tall and may need the occasional pruning to avoid becoming top-heavy and falling over. If this is the case, you’ll need to prune your tulips.
To do this, simply use a pair of clean scissors or garden shears. Make sure that your tools are sterilized so your tulip plants won’t get infected with pests or diseases.
Cut off the top portion of the stem that has grown too tall. Make sure that you cut above the leaf node or the bud. When you do this, the plant will be encouraged to produce new growth
While you’re pruning, you might as well remove any dead or yellowing parts of your plant. Trust us; this will keep your plant looking healthy and attractive. The bonus? Pruning also prevents pests and diseases from gathering around your plants!
Just be careful that you don’t prune your tulips too early. We can’t stress this enough. This is because they need their leaves to collect energy for the growing season.
However, once your tulips die back, you can begin to prune them to the soil line, especially after they finish flowering. This will help them conserve and store energy for the next growing season.
Enjoy Their Blooms
Tulips usually show off their gorgeous flowers in the spring. However, the exact timing depends on a lot of factors, such as the varieties and the amount of sunlight the plants receive.
You can expect tulips to flower in late March or early April in warmer areas. In cooler regions, they tend to pop out around late April to early May.
Once the flowers show up, you’re in for a treat! You can either let them bloom in their containers or cut off the blooms and display them in decorative vases. Either way, we recommend placing them in a cooler spot and away from direct heat or sunlight. This will help the plant and flowers last longer.
The Tulip Takeaway
If you love splashes of color to herald springtime, then the tulip is your go-to plant. Elegant yet highly attractive, tulips make a statement in every room they’re in. But, if you want more spring style, here are some wonderful bulbs that will grow well with tulips:
- Daffodils grow and bloom at a similar time as tulips.
- Hyacinths come in a variety of colors and produce fragrant springtime flowers.
- Crocuses are compact and early-blooming, making them attractive tulip plant partners.
Now, you can bring springtime inside just by growing tulips as your indoor plants. We believe that it’s never too early to begin planning for next year, so here’s to growing tulips indoors for the coming year!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for tulips to grow and bloom indoors?
Normally, it takes about two to four weeks for tulips to start growing. After they’ve grown, it takes another two to four weeks for them to produce flowers. However, the exact flowering time depends on the variety, sunlight, temperature, and other growing conditions. Note that this is after the 3-4 month dormant period.
Can I reuse tulip bulbs from year to year for indoor growing?
You can definitely reuse your tulip bulbs from year to year for your indoor growing needs. You just need to make sure that they are able to rest for a few months after flowering. During this period, store them in a cool dark place until you’re ready to plant them again. You should also give them another 3-4 month cooling period.
Can I grow tulips indoors year-round?
Tulips are springtime seasonal plants, making them ill-suited for year-round indoor growing. That said, if you time your dormant and growth periods correctly you can. You’ll also have to likely supplement with grow lights for optimal growth.
Do You Need To Fertilize Tulips?
Generally no as they do not grow long enough to exhaust their soil’s nutrients. If you do plant to replant the bulbs you can however use a bit of bulb fertilizer in the following season.