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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tulip planting combinations to try
- 'Apricot Beauty' with blue perennial cornflowers
- Cerise 'Dolls Minuet' with the zingy foliage of tellima
- Scarlet 'Apeldoorn' with the equally bright red geums
- Deep purple 'Queen of Night' with the strappy foliage of sisyrinchium
- Pure white 'Alabaster' makes the perfect partner for lime euphorbia foliage
- Pink 'Christmas Pearl' and 'China Pink' with silver foliage – try artemisia