Fertilizing Tulips: Learn More About Tulip Bulb Fertilizer

(Image credit: dominiquelandau)

Tulips are a beautiful but fickle flower bulb that is grown in a large number of gardens. Their bright blooms on tall stems make them a welcome site in the spring, but tulips are also known for not always returning year after year. Properly fertilizing tulips can help greatly with making sure that your tulips come back year after year. Keep reading to learn tips for fertilizing tulip bulbs and when to fertilize tulips.

When to Fertilize Tulips

You should be fertilizing tulips once a year. The best time as to when to fertilize tulips is in the fall. At this time, the tulip bulbs are sending out roots to prepare for the winter and are in the best possible shape to take up the nutrients in the tulip bulb fertilizer. Do not fertilize tulips in spring. The roots of the bulb will be dying off shortly after that in order to be dormant for the summer and will not be able to take up the optimal amount of nutrients from the tulip bulb fertilizer.

Tips for Fertilizing Tulip Bulbs

While many people think that they should be applying tulip fertilizer into the hole when the tulip bulb is planted, this is not true. This can damage the newly emerging roots of the tulip bulbs and cause them to “burn” when they come in contact with the concentrated fertilizer placed below them. Instead, always fertilize from the top of the soil. This will allow the tulip fertilizer to become less concentrated, as it filters down to the roots and will not burn the roots. The best kind of tulip bulb fertilizer will have a nutrient ratio of 9-9-6. When fertilizing tulips, you should also use a slow release fertilizer. This will ensure that nutrients are released to the tulip bulb roots continually. A rapid release tulip bulb fertilizer may result in the nutrients being leeched away before the tulip bulbs has a chance to take them up. If you would like to use an organic mix for fertilizing tulip bulbs, you can use a mixture of equal parts blood meal, greensand and bone meal. Be aware though that using this organic tulip fertilizer may attract some kinds of wild animals to the area. Taking the time to fertilize tulips will help them better survive the winter and return year after year. Knowing the proper steps for fertilizing tulip bulbs and when to fertilize tulips will ensure that your efforts to give your tulips an extra boost are not wasted.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.