How deep to plant species tulips

stpaulite(z4 MN)September 24, 2007

I bought a bunch of species Tulips at Gertens this weekend. The instructions that came with the bulbs say to plant them 3-4" deep. However, everything I have on gardening in our zone says 5-6" minimum. Since they're so small, do I stick with 3-4"? Or will the little guys be wiped out by our harsh winter? I'm so confused.

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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)

I have had good success planting both Tulipa tarda and Tulipa pulchella 'Persian Pearl' at a depth of 4". I have had no success with Tulip bakeri 'Lilac Wonder' - but I don't think that cultivar is fully hardy here. I think you would be fine at 4" for the smaller species tulips. As with any tulips - make sure you give them a good soak after you plant them. And a layer of mulch on the ground over the top of where you planted them never hurts either.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2007 at 7:45PM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

I second meeperx- they really do not need to be too deep- and they will do very well.
I have had many species type and others over the years- some tulips seem to live much longer than others in my yard- but most of the species types have lived the longest!
I still have a Darwin type that I planted originally over 20 years ago- while others seem to last a season or 2 at most.
When putting in bulbs- I find good luck with following the instructions that usually come with them. Different bulbs require different depths- and some are self regulating! They will actually grow a root that goes deep into the soil and then they will "pull" them selves down to the desired depth as they grow!
If I do not know the proper depth- or cannot find the info- I have found a good rule of thumb to be no deeper than 2-3 times the height of the bulb.
You are sure to have some delightful gems this spring!


    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 7:15AM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Good advice. But now I have question:

As with any tulips - make sure you give them a good soak after you plant them.

In water? Why would you do that? They are not a "bulb" like anemones that need to soak and swell. Tulips are already hydrated. Too much water for sleeping bulbs could be disastrous if there are lesions, bruises or other damage to the bulb, where diseases could infect. Sleeping bulbs are not awake to fight infections. In my opinion, better to wake them gradually first with moderate watering planted, and in the soil. In addition, a soaked bulb will be easier to damage while planting too. The wet bulb skins will not afford the protection that they do when dry, since then become soft. And is the bulb itself somewhat softer too? In my opinion and at the very least, if you soak a tulip, let the surface become completely dry before planting.

I have no doubt that soaking a tulip will wake it up faster, and get it growing quicker, I just question the need and the reasoning. I would be very interested in what anyone has to say about this.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 1:47PM
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stpaulite(z4 MN)

Thanks for the advice. I put them in today. I decided to go a little deeper (5-6") just to be on the safe side. We've had so little snow cover the past few years I'm a little paranoid. Now, I just need to keep the squirrels away. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 8:09PM
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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)

Dear Leftwood,

I didn't say soak the bulbs in a bowl of water, I said "give them a good soak after you plant them"-perhaps a too folksy way of saying water the bulbs right after planting them. Numerous plant websites and tulip instruction packets say the same thing-the theory being that the bulbs should establish roots in the fall. I am guessing that is why you don't want to plant the bulbs too late in the fall-no time to establish roots.

From the Univ of Illinois Ext Website: "Water the bulbs following planting. This will help settle the soil in the planting bed plus provide needed moisture for the bulbs to start rooting. Fall planted bulbs must root before cold weather. Avoid over-watering at planting time since this can result in bulb rot."

Here is a link that might be useful: Univ of Illinois link

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 9:05PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

give them a good soak after you plant them

What an idiot I am for apparently not being able to read. So sorry. Completely my fault.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 9:14PM
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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)

No worries. I am glad you pointed out about not overwatering them. I hadn't really given a lot of thought about the bulb rot issue.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2007 at 9:28PM
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