Planting Tulips at White Flower Farm


Planting Tulips at White Flower Farm video transcript

Hi. I'm Cheryl, the head gardener at White Flower Farm. Today, I would like to demonstrate the two methods that I use to plant Tulips in our gardens each fall. The first method I use the long handled bulb planter, and for the second I'll be using a garden fork and trowel. Today I will be planting two sections of Tulip 'Spring Green,' each backed by Cornus alba 'Elegantissima.' The idea is that the fresh green and white petals of this late blooming Tulip will stand out against the red stems of the dogwood and also echo the emerging variegated leaves of the shrub in May.

Let's start with the long handled bulb planter. I like to use this planter when I'm planting Tulips and large-sized Daffodil bulbs within the gardens. It's especially efficient when I use it in an area where the soil is regularly worked, and as a result of that, is relatively rock free.

This is my planting process: First, I like to lay out my Tulip bulbs to make sure I have enough bulbs to cover the space. In an effort to create dramatic flower power in the spring, I am planting my Tulip bulbs fairly close together—maybe 4-5" in between bulbs.

After my bulbs are all layed out, it's time to plant. I place the bulb planter over a Tulip bulb and step on it. The soil stays intact in the bulb planter cylinder. With a free hand, I pick up the bulb and put it into the freshly dug hole. I chuck a handful of crushed oyster shells into the hole. I've noticed some rodent activity in this garden area and the shells act as a deterrent to hungry voles. They are scratchy to the skin of the voles. The idea is that if a burrowing vole comes across a Tulip bulb surrounded by annoying oyster shells, he might back off and decide to go elsewhere for lunch, leaving the tasty Tulip alone. Occassionally the rebellious voles will breach the oyster shell barrier and dine. But when this happens, I find they eat a few bulbs from the dozens that I've planted but rarely the whole lot. I like to have the crushed oyster shells in my critter deterent arsenal.

My second go-to method for planting Tulips involves using a garden fork and a trowel. I find this method particularly successful if I'm planting in rocky garden soil or if it's been a very wet fall and there's lots of moisture in the soil. Here's what I do...

Using the garden fork, I loosen the soil in the area where I want to plant. After smoothing out the soil surface, I lay out the bulbs. I plant each bulb 6 or 7" deep with the trowel and my handy bucket of oyster shells nearby.

Using these two planting techniques, I have been able to plant thousands of bulbs easily in our gardens each fall. I encourage you to try them both and see what's most comfortable for you.

I love planting Tulips. The anticipation of seeing those cheerful blossoms in the spring gardens helps me get through the long, cold days of our Connecticut winter.

Email Sign Up

Subscribe to enjoy gardening advice, email offers & more