Do Tulips Multiply? (+Spread On Their Own)

While growing flowers in the garden, it is better to know which flowers will multiply and grow more flowers without buying them every year.

So, a common thought that comes to everyone’s mind is, do tulips multiply or spread?

Certain species of tulips can multiply and spread as they come back every year. Tulips grown in USDA zones 3-8 and left underground to complete their entire leaf cycle are likely to multiply and spread when they bloom in the following year. They do so by following a process called naturalizing.

Tulips are an excellent choice if you want your garden to be constantly filled with vibrant and bright-colored flowers without buying them each year.

This article will discuss everything about multiplying tulips to understand how you can get more tulips.


Will tulips spread on their own?

Tulips are beautiful flowering plants that are available in many species and flowers. They are also available in hybrids; they have color combinations like white and baby pink or white and maroon; some tulips change color according to light. 

For instance, the black tulips look purple in different kinds of lights. Tulips are the early spring bloomers.

When the question comes, “do tulips multiply” or “spread,” the answer is a big YES. The bulbs planted in the fall will grow more baby bulbs after a few years. You can divide them and plant them in the fall.

Again they will flower in the spring, and again after a few years, these bulbs will grow around 3-4 baby bulbs. This goes on.

Tulips will not multiply if you dig them up every year and store them for the following year. Most gardeners don’t follow the proper rules.

Let them be under the ground. You can dig them in every 3-4 years. They will grow many small bulbs. Divide the babies from the mother. You can replant them immediately or store them for the following year.

Now, speaking of seeds, the tulips get multiplied through seeds too.

When they are done flowering, the flowers will now concentrate on seeds. The seeds tend to spread naturally, and after they spread, they get evolved as bulbs again.

Hybrid tulip species tend to multiply less than the bulbs of simple species. If you want tulips to multiply, grow the non-hybrid varieties, like simple red, yellow or white flowers. These will give more promising results than hybrid ones.

The single species will quickly adapt and will be grown as perennials if they receive a good climate, growing conditions, and care. 

There are few exceptions, like Golden Appledorn, Orange Emperor, and Golden Oxford. They belong to the Darwin group.

Now let’s go to the part about how they will multiply.

How do tulips multiply?

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When we buy tulips for growing them in the garden, we usually buy the bulbs. However, tulips can also be grown from seeds, but they take much longer than bulbs and are complicated. 

So, it becomes a bit confusing for beginners to understand how they will multiply.

How do tulips multiply by bulbs?

It takes some time to sprout out when you plant the newly bought bulb in the fall. They will have their flower in the first early spring of the coming year. 

When the first flower blooms, the mother bulbs will multiply to grow around 2 to 5 baby bulbs. You will see them sprouting from the main root of the tulips.

When you take off these baby bulbs and quickly replant them some distance far apart, the tulips will reproduce. 

So, now it must be clear that tulips multiply by making more additional small bulbs from the main mother bulb.

How do tulips spread by seeds?

For multiplying by seeds, the tulips have to depend on nature. This is different from the bulb method and similar to those plants which multiply and reproduce by seeds.

The tulips will require wind, rainfall, and living beings to carry the seeds.

If you want to multiply tulips by seeds, you must find the seedpod. Tulips are both self-pollinating and cross-pollinating flowers. 

The pollen can get transferred from the anther to the stigma, or the insects will also do it for them.

For multiplying:

  1. Wait until the flower dies. Once it is dead, you can extract its seeds from the seedpod and plant them in the fall.
  2. Let the flower be if you allow the plant to grow seeds and spread on its own.
  3. Wait until the seedpod turns brown and cracks open.

Once the seeds are planted or spread in the bed, they will germinate and grow into bulbs. You will soon see the plant sprouting out with an ideal environment and growing conditions. 

Also read: When To Plant Tulips Seeds? (Guide As Per Your Zone)

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Natural and manual multiplying

Nature plays a role in multiplying the tulips. The wind is the most usual way. With mild winds, the lightweight seeds easily get carried to a distance. 

The seeds will also get carried away either by attaching to animals’ fur or birds. The seeds will fall off on the ground and start sprouting from there. 

With human intervention, too, the tulips can be multiplied. In nature, the seeds get dispersed anywhere randomly. 

But, when we intervene, we collect the seeds and baby bulbs and plant them in their ideal planting time and by maintaining proper space and growing conditions.

What does it mean by tulips multiplying by seeds or bulbs?

Now that you know tulips can multiply by seeds and bulbs, how would you apply this to understanding?

Briefly speaking, if you wish to wait for many years to see the tulips multiply naturally and grow more tulips, let the seeds lie in the ground, and no need to collect them.

Speaking of bulbs, you also don’t have to worry about it. Make sure that the bulbs are stored in the cold before planting. 

Plant them 6 to 8 inches deep in the soil and water them. Choose a site where the plant gets good sunlight and fertile soil.

Even if you grow them as annuals, you need not worry about their spreading. 

If you face a problem growing more tulips as you want them to after the first year, you always have the option of digging them at the end of the year and placing new bulbs.

But if you grow tulips as perennials, you need to put effort into deadheading the tulips when the flowers become spent.

How long will tulips take to multiply?

Tulip long stem

When tulips grow in their natural habitat, they multiply once every 2 to 3 months. There are some other species of tulips that multiply only once a year.

The time tulips will take to multiply will depend on the variety of tulips you have in your garden. But, generally, tulips can take 1 to 6 months to multiply when grown anywhere in the garden.

Planting tulips for fast multiplication

Tulips can multiply naturally. When we intervene, we collect the bulbs and seeds, wait for the planting season and again plant them. But this process can be done quickly if proper guidelines are followed.

But if you are okay with waiting for their natural multiplication, you can ignore this point.

First, you need to collect some healthy tulip bulbs and plant those buds in the right way.

You should plant them at least 7 to 8 inches deep into the soil bed. The soil should be healthy and nutritious.

After you plant them, water them very well like a typical flowering plant. When the bulbs grow plants, they should receive a good amount of sunlight. 

Light will play a vital role in this process. That’s all you got to do in the first year.

You can trim off the spent flowers. By the end of August, you can dig up the bulbs, separate the baby bulbs from the mother bulb and plant them again in the next few minutes. This will speed up multiplication. 

You might not have to wait for 4-5 years for digging and storing them for planting. 

You can try this once a year or every 3 years if you want your tulips to spread at a fast rate.

Also read: Do Tulips Need To Be Dug Up Every Year? (When+How)

How much space should be kept in between the tulip bulbs during planting?

Tulip purple

When you plant the bulbs, you should keep a distance of about 4 to 6 inches in between each bulb. This will help the roots to grow flexibly and grow more bulbs. 

This will also avoid overcrowded bulbs, and the plant will not stop flowering. Many bulbs will have a lot of nutrients, and the plant will thrive.

Along with the space, you should also maintain the planting depth. Plant them at least 6 to 8 inches deep to encourage proper and healthy growth. 

If you don’t want them to dig up and leave them underground, make sure to plant them at least 12 inches deep.

In the hot summers, they will not tolerate hot weather. Planting them deeply will protect them from hotter climates.

Will tulips come back every year?

Naturally, tulips will come back every year because they are perennials. But, sometimes, tulips don’t come back as they behave moodily. 

Below, I have mentioned some guidelines which will help the tulips to come back:

While buying the bulbs, read the instructions carefully. The instructions explain the current condition of the bulbs.

In most cases, it says that the bulbs have been made by experts who promise them to be healthy. By reading the instructions, you would know whether they can flower the next year or not.

The bulbs are dug up, stored in the cold, and replanted in most cases. But you can also leave them behind in the ground for further multiplication and more tulips.

When the flowering cycle ends, the flowers will droop and become spent. But the leaves are still in good health, and they are still photosynthesizing. 

The bulbs will be gathering energy from the foliage so that they can flower profusely in the next year. Thus, you should not trim the foliage until they turn yellow or brown and die.

When you plant bulbs and find that they are not in a good state, you can dig them up and remove them. When the plant doesn’t grow well, it means it will not come back. Replace them with new healthy bulbs.

Also read: Do Tulips Grow Back Every Year? (+How To Encourage To Grow Back)

Will tulips flower more than once?

Generally, the tulips will flower more than once if their growing conditions are good. But as I said in the previous point, they will become finicky sometimes for flowering once again.

If you want them to bloom once again, you should replant bulbs. You must remove the old bulbs and replace them with new ones. Prune off the spent flowers by deadheading.

Final thoughts

It is a better option to grow more tulips without spending extra money. That is when multiplying of tulips play a vital role. Multiplying tulips will always help you get more tulips every year without buying them.

You just need to follow the proper guidelines to encourage the tulips to multiply more and come back every year. It is economical to get more tulips and fill up your garden with bright and vibrant colors.

Take care of tulips by letting them have all their needs adequately. Avoid keeping them thirsty. Avoid digging up every year. Wait for some years to let the bulbs multiply properly and grow more.

Source: WikipediaNorth Dakota Stae UniversityThe Royal Horticultural Society.


Hello everyone, My name is Richa and I am here to make you a better gardener by creating an in-depth and helpful resource for all the fellow gardeners out there. If I could help even a few people understand their plants better then I call it a success for my efforts.

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