Tulips are gorgeous spring bloomers and come in a variety of colors. No other flower symbolizes the colors of spring the way tulips do. It is no wonder people want to grow them year after year.
One question that many gardeners have is whether tulips come back every year or not. Read our article to know whether they grow back and how you can make them bloom year after year.
Do Tulips Grow Back Every Year?
Tulips are perennial plants and their flowers come back every year. They bloom in spring and rebloom in the coming years as well. But in some cases, the flowers might not come back or bloom in a smaller size in the second or third year.
Smaller blooms or no blooms in the subsequent years happen when the plants are grown outside their natural climatic conditions. Due to this reason, tulips are sometimes considered annuals by some experts. In cooler climatic zones, they come back every year and do not face issues in reblooming.
With the right care, you can make your tulips rebloom. But if you live in a region that is not well-suited for tulip’s growth, you can always grow them as annuals. Keep the watering minimum in summers and water them only when half the soil dries out.
Are Tulips Perennials or Annuals?
Tulips are evergreen, perennial plants. The flowers almost every year rebloom in spring in almost all colors including single and bi-colors. Their petals can be ruffled and fringed. Despite their perennial characteristics, some gardeners grow them as annuals as the old bulbs produce smaller blooms in the next season.
There are some hybrid tulips that have been developed to grow as perennials without doing much. One way to maintain the perennial tulips is by planting them at an appropriate depth and by feeding them with adequate sunlight and fertilizer.
What is the Best Climate for Tulips?
Tulips grow best in temperate climates with cold winters and hot, dry summers. They are native to Central Asia, flourishing in countries like Turkey. They do not do too good in cooler summers and warmer winters.
The ideal temperature to grow tulips is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to bloom, the bulbs need 12 to 15 hours of cool temperatures. But when the temperatures fall below 35 degrees Fahrenheit, the buds and flowers stand at a risk of getting destroyed.
55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal range for the tulip’s healthy growth. A 15-week chilling period before spring helps the plant produce buds and go into blooming.
Along with cold weather conditions, tulips also need to be placed in a well-ventilated spot. Due to their specific needs, many growers freeze the bulbs and plant them when needed.
What is the Best Soil to Grow Tulips?
Tulips thrive in a neutral, airy soil mix with excellent drainage. If the soil is too compact or loamy, the bulbs will rot and might even die. These flowers are drought-tolerant and hate water-logged soil conditions.
To prepare a porous soil mix, add equal parts of sand, organic compost, peat moss, and bark chips. You can change the composition according to the area you are living in. Just ensure that it is loose and not too heavy for the tulip bulbs.
Apart from a loose soil mix, you need to plant the bulbs properly. Plant them about six inches deep into the soil and keep the spacing twice the size of bulbs.
How Can I Make My Tulips Come Back Every Year?
- To ensure your tulips come back every spring, make sure you choose the right bulb. Make sure the bulbs you buy are perennial. For example, Triumph and Emperor tulips are great perennial varieties.
- Once your plants are done blooming, cut the dead heads to ensure they come back naturally next year. Cutting the dead heads annually helps the plant conserve energy for winters.
- To make tulips come back if your region does not have optimal weather conditions, make sure you grow your tulips at the right location. Keep them in a sunny spot and plant them four to five inches in the soil.
- Tulips hate wet feet. Overwatering affects the bloom size and weakens the bulbs. Make sure you keep the soil on the drier side to make them rebloom next spring. Prepare a chunky soil mix with bark chips to avoid waterlogged soil conditions.
- Digging the old bulbs and planting new bulbs in autumn is a sure shot way of getting majestic blooms. Preserve the bulbs by cutting off the dead blooms, digging the bulbs and setting them in a cool, dry place. Store these bulbs in a netted bag and plant them in autumn.
How Many Times Will a Tulip Bulb Bloom?
Tulips come back every year in spring but they behave more like annuals in the sense that they bloom once per season. They do not produce blooms throughout the year but only in spring and rarely in early summer. But that does not mean the plant dies after spring.
The bulbs present in the soil do not die and grow new flowers the next spring if cared for properly. You might not get the same dazzling display of flowers the next year because of a process called naturalizing.
To make your tulips come back the same as the last season, make sure you choose the right varieties that do not reproduce and break up easily. For example, the Darwin tulips are wonderful perennial plants that remain evergreen.
Tulips That Come Back Every Year
There are a lot of tulip varieties that come back and rebloom every year in spring such as the Darwin hybrid tulips, Kaufmanniana tulips, Lily-flowered tulips, Triumph tulips, and Fosteriana tulips. These tulips generally rebloom even if their bulbs are left in the ground.
Choosing these tulip varieties alone would not guarantee reblooming flowers. You need to plant them at a proper depth in a rich and well-draining soil and preserve the bulbs if needed. If you want guaranteed blooms each year, choose perennial tulips.
While purchasing the bulbs, look for terms such as “perennial” and “naturalizing”. These words mentioned on labels indicate that the tulips are perennial and will rebloom. The best part about choosing perennial species of tulips is that they will keep multiplying and coming back each year, although their size might diminish.
You do not need to fertilize the bulbs the first year as the nutrients needed to grow are contained in the bulbs. Just remember to deadhead the flowers once they are done blooming and leave the leaves to die on their own.
Here is a short list of perennial tulips that you can try growing in your garden.
- Botanical or Species Tulips – Peppermint Stick, Lilac Wonder, and Tulip Tarda
- Darwin Hybrid Tulips – Pink Impression, Juliette, and Apricot Delight
- Triumph Tulips – Flaming Flag, Arabian Mystery, and Jimmy
- Viridiflora Tulips – ChinaTown and Flaming Spring Green
Will Tulip Bulbs Multiply?
Some species of tulips return and multiply each year through a process known as naturalizing. Naturalizing happens when the mother plant produces smaller bulbs and those bulbs are big enough to be split off from the main plant.
The reason why we hardly see tulip blooms growing back the same size as the previous season is due to naturalizing. The bulbs are hybridized and grown because they can produce large-sized flowers.
But after the first blooming season, each plant reproduces and sends out baby bulbs that do not have the same energy as the mother plant to grow bigger blooms.
What are the Signs of a Dormant Tulip?
Tulips become dormant in the summers. They need to be dormant in summer to bloom in spring. If you water them in the summer, the bulbs will rot and die. Keep them dry until chilling time. Dormant tulips will not be visible as the leaves disintegrate after blooming and the flowers emerge only in the next season.
If you live in a cold region, tulips can stay in the ground after blooming. The leaves wither and new blooms will appear again the next spring. But if your region gets super hot in summers, the bulbs cannot stay in the ground or if they do, they will eventually die. For this reason, it is better to dig up the dormant bulbs and store them in the fridge until fall.
Nothing symbolizes spring better than a garden full of vibrant tulips. The colorful blooms are sure to turn heads. The flowers, although considered perennial, sometimes behave like annuals.
If you care for them properly, these plants will reward you with gorgeous blooms every year. We hope our post on how to make tulips come back every year has helped you know all about it and you will grow them too!