Plant tulip bulbs in the fall for spring blooms. The best time is when night temperatures start to drop below 40F degrees. In northern climates it is best to plant in October-November, in southern climates you can wait until November-December. In hot climates plant in the spring after the bulbs have been pre-chilled in a cooler for 8 weeks. If you miss planting your bulbs at the preferred time, don’t wait for spring or next fall. Tulip bulbs aren’t like seeds! They need a period of cool time. Even if you discover an unplanted stack of tulips or daffodils in January or February, go ahead and plant them if the ground can still be worked, or plant in pots. Better to take your chances than saving them for next season. You may even get blooms the same year!
Tulips can be grown in various ways and locations: inside or outside; in soil or on water (hydroponically); in crates, ground beds or raised beds; in cold or warmer climates.
Choose a sunny location with good drainage. Tall varieties should be sheltered from strong winds. Space the bulbs 6” apart, in a hole that is 8” deep (three times the height of the bulb) and set the bulb in the hole with the pointy side up. To deter critters from chewing on your bulbs, sprinkle a little cayenne pepper into the hole. Fertilize with Calcium and Nitrogen. Close the hole and water well, bulbs need ample water to form good, tall tulips (just drip-tape does not suffice). Tulips in colder areas need winter protection from all sides if planted in crates or raised beds to avoid frost damage.
After the tulips are done blooming, clip off any spent blooms to prevent them from going to seed. Let the stems and leaves die back naturally until they are yellow or brown before removing them, this may take about six weeks and allows the plant to feed the bulb so it can store new energy to bloom again the following year.