How to Fertilize Tulips


Cold-weather friends, tulips (Tulipa spp.) are hardy bulbs that grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. Leaving the bulbs in the garden year after year to bloom every spring can often zap them of energy and they produce fewer and fewer flowers. Therefore, to help your tulips continue blooming to their fullest potential, adopt a regular fertilizing schedule. Although a soil test would provide you with exact fertilizer specifications for your garden bed, you can also follow some general guidelines to help your tulips happily bloom in return.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Rake
  • Garden hose
  • Turn the soil 12 inches deep with a spade. Incorporate 1 1/2 pounds of an all-purpose balanced granular fertilizer, such as 5-10-10, 6-12-12 or 10-10-10, per 50 square feet of space. Do this just before planting your tulips, typically in the fall.

  • Spread 1 pound of the same all-purpose balanced fertilizer per 50 square feet around newly emerging tulip foliage in the spring. Then, gently scratch into the surface with a rake, brush off any fertilizer that landed on the foliage and provide 1 inch of water. Reapply the same amount of fertilizer in the same manner after your tulips are finished blooming.

  • Apply 2 or 3 inches of compost on top of the tulip bed each fall after you cut back the foliage. Compost not only helps insulate the soil, it also supplies the soil with a regular dose of nutrients as it decomposes throughout the year.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not remove tulip foliage while it is still green. It provides the tulips with energy by photosynthesizing sunlight and storing the resulting nutrients in the bulbs.


  • Photo Credit Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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