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How Much Light Do Tulips Require?

Updated on November 29, 2012
Planting beautiful bulbs should be a family activity. Pots of plants are a lovely way to introduce children to the joys of the garden.
Planting beautiful bulbs should be a family activity. Pots of plants are a lovely way to introduce children to the joys of the garden. | Source

Tulips, those wonderful bright flowers which brighten the spring, are grown from bulbs. This makes them ideal for gardeners. Plant tulips one year, look after them, and with most varieties you'll find you have more tulips the following year. As a keen gardener, about to embark on the creation of a new garden and with a very low budget, I find tulips to be beautiful, useful and relatively easy on the bank account.

Tulips are members of the Lily family and available in a huge number of colors and shapes. You can grow them in the garden or in pots as houseplants. They look fabulous in containers on the deck or patio, and there are many different types, from the traditional tulip shape to waterlilly tulips and my personal favorite, the peony tulip. Sought after for flower arrangements and wedding bouquets, tulips are among the most popular of flowers and are very reasonably priced. They also have a fascinating history.

Ideal Tulip Growing Conditions

Tulips are grown from bulbs. In areas where the climate is hot, the bulbs are usually planted quite deep to keep the bulb from drying out. And that really is the major point about growing tulips, they are fussy about moisture.

When planting tulips it's quite OK to plant them deep. I've grown successful containers of spring bulbs which contained three separate layers. Tulips planted almost eight inches down, daffodils planted in the layer above that, and crocus and snowdrop bulbs planted in the top, shallow layer. Once the bulbs have bloomed, if you plan to raise them again, the following year, allow the leaves to remain on the plant for at least six weeks. They are gathering food to store in the bulb. If you cut the leaves as soon as the flowers die, you'll have nothing to bloom next year. Feed the soil in your beds and containers, but only water during dry spells and immediately after planting. Moist soil leaves your tulips vulnerable to fungus.

As to how much light your tulips need, most flowering plants enjoy full sun, but tulips are reasonably tolerant. In most cases they need around four hours of sun per day. In the USA, if grown in a relatively cold zone (3, 4 or 5) tulips will usually need a position in full sun. In other, warmer zones, they will tolerate partial shade. Ideally, plant them somewhere they'll see the sun in the afternoon.

How to Prepare Cut Tulips for Arrangement, so They'll Last


Tulipmania sounds like an excessive love of tulips, and in a way, it is; the word refers to a period in the history of the Netherlands when Tulips, recently introduced to Europe, became incredibly popular. The flowers were far more vivid in color than any others available at that time, tulips became a luxury item and a status symbol; bulbs exchanged hands for very large sums of money. Fortunes were made in tulip trading and there was an extensive market in tulip futures.

It can take between 7 and 12 years to grow a tulip bulb from seed, the time required merely added to the rarity value of the bulbs. Prices continued to increase through the early 1630's until February, 1637, when they suddenly collapsed. According to some, this created an economic crisis.

Tulips as Symbols of Love

While we associate red roses with passion, much of the language of flowers was developed before commercial rose growing and derived from customers in other countries. In Turkey and Persia the tulip was extremely popular. The giving of a red tulip, with its deep, black center, was regarded as a symbol of passion, the red symbolsing passions heat, the black heart showing that it burned so hot as to turn the heart to charcoal. Yellow tulips were regarded as symbols of unrequited love.


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    • Amaryllis profile imageAUTHOR

      Lesley Charalambides 

      6 years ago from New Hampshire

      Thanks! Tulips are fabulous flowers, glad to meet another tulip lover.

    • Lilleyth profile image

      Suzanne Sheffield 

      6 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

      Love my purple tulips! Good hub and info.


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