Tulip bulbs received as Christmas gift

by Maleena
(Kentucky)

Tulip Bulbs

Tulip Bulbs

I received some tulip bulbs and also an iris bulb as a Christmas gift. I live in central Kentucky, and I realize that the optimal time to have planted these bulbs would have been in November. What do I need to do with these bulbs? The package says the bulbs should be planted within 6 months of purchase. Please advise. Thank you.

Comments for Tulip bulbs received as Christmas gift

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Jan 08, 2022
Keep them dry
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

Ideally, they would have been planted in the ground, where they'll have a chance to grow some roots before the really cold weather arrives.

If you don't have really deep frost, dig a hole outside and put them in it, cover with mulch (like leaves).

However, if they don't get this treatment of planting in the fall, use the secondary method of planting them in a planter and putting it into the root cellar, basement or other cool place. This is kind of like 'forcing' bulbs to flower out of season at Christmas, but really it's just to give them the chance to bloom at all.

In spring, they'll bloom in the container once the weather warms up and you can put it outside. Keep it watered while the bulbs are growing roots.

Now it will be a race between spring arriving and the bulbs throwing up their shoots. If they get too long and leggy they probably won't be very happy, and it's likely that they won't survive.


For the iris, just keep that dry and plant it as early as you can in the spring. They're pretty tough and can take a lot of ill treatment and still flower. Even if it doesn't do much this year, it's a perennial and will flower again next year.

Good luck!

PS: the package instructions are for the best case scenario, but if they don't get planted at the exact right time, don't panic! They may not bloom as prolifically but they'll still grow.

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