There are three steps to tackle to learn how to grow tulips in the UK. It might be surprising to see bulbous plants that thrive in cold weather in countries like the United Kingdom, but it is possible to develop them using the tips below. However, if you are in the central part of the UK, you might benefit more from growing potted tulips as annuals instead of perennials.
The discovery of different UK gardening methods and techniques makes it possible to grow tulips regardless of your area. You can use greenhouses and hydroponic systems to ensure healthy blooms even though your location is different from tulips’ native regions. Read this article to know more about growing tulips in the UK and similar countries.
Step #1. Planning
The southern part of the UK’s hardiness zones ranges from 8a to 11a, making the country favourable for growing bulbous plants. However, we all know that tulips thrive in cold regions, so growing them in a country like the UK requires specific techniques. You can still grow tulips in the UK, but you have to plan accordingly.
For example, remember that tulips require cold months to enter dormancy and the winter season in the UK is too warm to encourage tulips to go dormant. You can solve this drawback by planting tulips as annuals instead. Sure the tulips will only bloom for one season, but you have to accept this compromise if you want to grow tulips in the UK.
The good news is you can dig up the tulips after blooming and replace them with summer flowers. The best tulips for annual growing are hybrid varieties, and you can opt to prepare them yourself. Some sellers even sell pre-chilled bulbs ready for planting in spring.
Step #2. Preparation
According to the University of Florida, you can treat tulips as annuals by chilling bulbs for two to four months for planting in winter. You can also buy the bulbs eight weeks before you intend to plant, and you can prepare for growing depending on the zone you live in. For example, those in zone 8 can plant from November to December, and those in zone 10 should plant from December to January.
How do you prepare the bulbs for planting? You can put them in a paper bag and then into the refrigerator. However, note that ripening fruits can damage the tulips due to ethylene gas, so check where you’ll put them in the fridge.
It would also be best to prepare the site for planting to prevent the bulbs from drying out. You can consider growing the tulips in the polytunnel if your climate is unstable. Either way, a bright area with fertile, well-draining soil is excellent for tulips.
Step #3. Planting
Once you have planned everything and you’re sure that you can grow the bulbs on the site you prepared with the proper planting date. A space of eight inches among them is ideal, and you can plant the bulbs at a depth of five inches with their points facing up. Cover the bulbs with soil and mulch over the ground for better moisture retention while also controlling the weed.
The maintenance requirement, at this point, is keeping the ground moist throughout the tulips’ growing period. Some gardeners in the UK also fertilise the ground before watering, but always check the label instructions for the fertiliser you’ll use. Don’t forget to remove the mulch as well once the ground starts to warm up.
You can expect your flowers to bloom in spring if they experience no challenges while growing. However, note that those in zone 11 should probably skip planting tulips as the northern part of the UK would be the only part of the country suitable for growing tulips. Some areas in the UK would be too warm for growing tulips or if you want, opt for bulbs to survive the south’s climate.
Caring For Tulips
To ensure that your tulips will thrive, you have to provide the proper care and maintenance for them. Maintenance is valid, regardless of where you plant them. For example, the best location for tulips is somewhere bright because shade does not support their growth.
You must also check your soil if it needs amendments regarding its structure, pH level, and nutrients. However, the most common reason that damages tulips are wet soil. You can easily avoid this by using well-draining soil and watering only when necessary during drought.
You can also support your tulips by feeding in spring and composting yearly for better blooms. In addition, remove the faded flowers and let the foliage rejuvenate itself until it turns yellow for pruning. Lastly, don’t forget to check the space of your tulips and replant if necessary.
Tulips are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful flowers to have, but those living in countries like the UK might feel left out in growing these plants that require cold weather for dormancy. However, you can learn how to grow tulips in the UK by treating them as annuals. Those in the northern part of the country under zones 8 to 10 can use pre-chilled bulbs and plant them outdoors or in the greenhouse.
You can place the bulbs in a paper bag and into the refrigerator away from fruits. Chill them for two to four months and plant them according to your growing zone. Choose a bright area with fertile and well-draining soil for the tulips, and they should be in bloom by spring.