How to Make Sure Your Tulips Return Every Spring

Make tulips return title card

3 min read

Tulips are a spring garden favourite. They bring beautiful colour to a flowerbed and bring with them the positive optimism of springtime. However a question that tulip growers always want to know the answer to is whether their tulips will return year-on-year and add that magical touch to their garden again and again. We investigated the answer to that question.

Are Tulips perennials or annuals?

Field of red, yellow and pink tulips

The quick answer to this is yes. Tulips are naturally perennials coming back year-after-year. However, in some circumstances when they do return they are smaller and don’t blossom as well in their second or third years. This happens sometimes when they are grown outside their natural climate. For this reason, wisdom often suggest that they’re only annuals and should be replanted every year. This is not the case universally. With the right care and attention their brilliant flowers can make a welcome return appearance in the following spring. However, if you live in an area with a challenging climate for your tulips you can always replant them annually in the autumn so that they’ll always brighten up your spring.

What is the best climate for Tulips?

tulips in sunlight

Tulips originate in Central Asia and prefer a climate of cold winters and hot dry summers. They have flourished particularly in countries like Turkey and Holland and are a popular garden feature in many parts of the world. However, in locations with wetter cooler summers and/or warmer winters they don’t tend to do as well. Therefore it is important to ensure that you do as much as possible to keep them within their natural environmental conditions. They can however be given a bit of help to avoid disappointing crops during the next spring, as we’ll see below.

How can I make my Tulips come back every year?

Planting tulip bulbs

There are a few simple tricks to ensure that your tulips aren’t just a one-time only feature of your garden.

  • Choose the right type of bulb: Certain breeds of bulb are more hardy than others and choosing the right one can make a big impact on whether your tulips will bloom as beautifully the following year. Emperor tulips and Triumph tulips are two breeds that are known for their “perennializing” qualities. When you’re buying your bulbs check that they are labelled as perennial.
  • Compensate for the climate: There are a few things you can do to perennialize your tulips further. Location is crucial. Choose a sunny area to plant your bulbs and plant them deep (about 10 – 15cm) to give them a better chance of coming back.
  • Cut them annually after they’ve finished blooming: When your tulip blooms come to their natural end and the petals start to fall away, take action! Cut off the dead heads from your tulips to help the plant conserve energy for the winter months.
  • Keep them dry: Tulips need water of course, however too much water will weaken the bulbs. If you see standing water forming in your tulip bed then add some something absorbent like bark chips to the soil, or dig them up and move them somewhere a little drier.
  • Give them some extra energy: Make sure you keep your tulips fed. They only need one feed a year in the autumn and it is recommended to use bone meal fertilizer.

Tulips just need the right touch and they’ll always brighten up your surroundings. In nature they are known as the “harbingers of spring” and with the right steps you too can enjoy that spring feeling year-after-year.

If you want to make sure your loved ones experience the magic of tulips every year without fail, share a beautiful bouquet of fresh cut tulips to add a touch of spring colour to their home. Deliver tulips from our spring catalogue to over 100 countries around the world and ensure fresh flowers and smiles always reach them.