Today tulips are available to all in the bulb form which allows them to survive harsh winter weather around the globe. The bulb has a thin, brown skin called the tunic and this covers the scales. They are similar to leaves that hold the plant nutrients and form most of the bulb. Near the bottom of the bulb are the roots and when planted they find water and mineral food that allow the plant to grow toward the sunlight.
The plants grow best in fairly dry areas of the garden with rich and fertile soil. In the language of the botanist: “tulips don’t like wet feet.” (In fact in Asia and Australia they tend to grow on rocky, mountain slopes minimums of rainfall.)
Tulip bulbs should be planted in the fall of the year and keyed to the times of frost that vary widely from region to region. This information is generally available through local sources, the United States Weather Bureau and County Extension Offices. The bulbs should be planted about six to eight weeks before the hard frost when soil temperature is about 60 degrees.
Generally these conditions range across the northern United States in September and October. They would apply about a month later in southern regions. Of course, tropical sections would be out of these temperature ranges and indoor planting becomes the only method for raising tulips.
Garden beds should be prepared by fork or power tiller and the loamy soil should be turned to a depth of about 14 to 16 inches. Loam is made up of a mixture of clay, peat or rich silt and sand. A layer of compost from the home garden or purchased at the supply store should be mixed in to insure proper protection during very cold weather.
The gardener should make a careful study of possible locations for the plants. The bed should be in full sun or varied to barely-shaded with well-drained soil. Bulbs selected can range in height from the roots to the stem end. Holes should be dug about three times as deep as the height. Then the bulbs should be set in one-at-a time with the pointed end upward. They are covered with soil and pressed firmly in place with bulbs approximately six inches apart. Tulip bulbs should be well watered after planting but not soaked after the initial set has been made.
The 4 Tips to Successful Tulip Bulb Planting