Offering an endless variety of colours, tulips are among the best spring bulbs, offering a wonderful display of colour in April and May.

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While perennial, most are treated as annuals as they won't reliably return year after year. You can get around this by growing species tulips like Tulipa linifolia that self-seed and improve in flowering performance year after year.

The benefit of planting each year is that you can grow different varieties each time, from flamboyant parrot and fringed tulips, to the short-stemmed early-flowering varieties.

Tulips enjoy light, well-drained soils in full sun, but there are ways you can get them to flower in heavier soils too – find out how to grow tulips in problem places.

Check out these handy tips on planting tulips.

1

Re-plant each year

Plant new tulips every year for the best displays – as a rule performance declines the older the tulips become. You could also have a go at lifting and storing tulips, to plant again next year.

Planting tulip bulbs
2

Plant at the right depth

Bury tulips in a hole three times the height of the bulb. Plant tulips together to create a colourful display. To make them look natural, try scattering the bulbs in the area you want to plant them, then bury them where they fall.

Planting tulip bulbs in at a depth three times their height
3

Plant at the right time

Wait until we've had a couple of frosts before planting (although don't plant into frozen ground). This will help to avoid the fungal disease tulip fire.

A tulip leaf scarred by tulip fire
4

Pick the best bulbs

Choose large, firm bulbs avoiding any that are showing signs of rot. Some people will experience skin irritation when handling tulips, so avoid this by wearing gloves.

Healthy tulip bulbs, showing no signs of rot
5

Avoid squirrel damage

Protect newly-planted bulbs from squirrels by covering the ground or containers with chicken wire, then hiding with a thin layer of compost.

Covering a pot of newly planted bulbs with chicken wire for protection from squirrels/cats
6

Watch out for slugs and snails

Be vigilant for slugs and snails as tulip foliage begins to emerge in spring. Take a look at these ways to stop slugs eating young plants.

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Gardener removing snail from plant
Removing a snail
White tulip 'Alabaster' flowers with golden euphorbia foliage

Tulip planting combinations to try

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