When planting tulips, gardeners should choose high-quality bulbs and shop early in the season, selecting bulbs that are firm and free from mold, bruises or cuts. Gardeners should also avoid buying tulips based on color, since colors may be mixed, opting instead for a specific species or variety. Those living in warmer areas of the country should chill tulip bulbs for up to 8 weeks prior to planting them, since tulips don't do as well in areas with mild winters, although some species are better for milder climates, including the Candia and Florentine varieties.
Tulips can be planted whenever the soil at a 6-inch depth is colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This is typically anywhere from October to January, depending on the zone. Tulips require fast-draining soil and full sun, and they should never be planted where late frosts are normal or where water tends to collect. When planting tulips, the pointed end of the bulb is pointed up at a depth of 6 inches with 4 inches of soil on top. Tulips planted in sandy or light soil or in areas frequented by pests may need to be planted 8 inches deep. Spacing between bulbs should be 5 inches apart.