Tulips are early spring flowering plants grown outdoors. But they are not grown indoors traditionally. They are rarely grown as standard indoor flowering plants as their bulbs need extended cold every year to make themselves ready for the subsequent flowering.
Tulips are forced to bloom while growing indoors for a 1-time display. They are famous for their bold and stunning colors with beautiful symmetrical shapes.
If you want to grow them, you need to provide the exact growing conditions similar to their native land.
Tulips can be grown with adequate sunlight, proper watering, well-drained soil, ideal temperature, and humidity. But they might not last long indoors in pots or vases.
So, if you are planning to grow tulips and looking out for helpful care tips for them, this guide will help you know all the tips and tricks to grow and maintain tulips bearing stunning flowers.
Can you grow Tulips indoors?
Tulips are not usually grown indoors. They are traditionally outdoor plants. They need an extra cold period in their dormant season so that they can flower annually.
Getting the correct requirements at the right time makes it more difficult for tulips to grow indoors. The indoor surroundings are quite different from the outdoors.
However, by following some care tips, tulips can be grown indoors in pots. Growing them together in pots will give your house a colorful look.
When grown indoors, tulips need to be forced to bloom. For that, you will have to choose the varieties which can be forced to grow and bloom.
Some common tulip varieties are Triumph, Single Early, Double Early, and Darwin Hybrids.
Different varieties will have different blooming seasons. Growing different tulips with different blooming seasons to design your containers will encourage longer blooms. Below I have mentioned some varieties:
- Early bloomers (early spring in late March): Double Early, Fosteriana, Greigii, Kaufmanniana, Single Early.
- Mid-season bloomers (in April): Darwin Hybrid, Fringed, Lily Flowered, Triumph.
- Late bloomers (late spring in May): Double Late, Parrot, Single Late, Viridiflora.
Also read: Are Tulips Inside Or Outside Plants?
10 Tips to take care of Tulips indoors
Now let’s see the primary care requirements for tulips while growing them indoors:
1. Give tulips daily 6 hours of sunlight
When it is cold, potted tulips should be kept in darkness. When you bring them out of the chilled weather, keep them in the dark for 4-5 days and wait until the sprouts are visible.
After 4-5 days, shift your potted tulip to a warm sunny location and keep them there until the flowers start growing. It will take at least 4-5 weeks.
When the flowers are fully grown, move them to a location where the intensity of sunlight is slightly less. This less intense sun will preserve the tulips flowers for a long time.
However, the blooms will last for 2 weeks.
Indoors too, the tulips will require daily 6 hours of sunlight.
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2. Water the tulip to keep it evenly moist
When you plant the new bulbs in the pot for growing them indoors, water them very well after planting. After that, water the tulips when you see the first new leaf.
Water your tulips whenever the top 1-2 inches of soil feels dry. Don’t allow the bulbs to dry out totally to keep the blooms healthy.
Tulips require only 1 inch of water weekly. Unlike other plants, they need pretty less water.
You can add some water to the plants daily, summing up to 1 inch at the end of the week, or you can dump the whole 1-inch water into your potted tulips.
Don’t overwater the tulips. It is better to avoid stressing them because they are forced to grow indoors despite being outdoors, which is not their traditional way to grow.
Besides, don’t water the tulips in summers as they remain dormant.
3. Fertilize tulips in their growing season
When force-grown indoors, tulips don’t need much fertilizer. They will not live longer than 30 days after blooming.
But, if you want more tulips from the bulbs, you can fertilize them. This will allow the tulip bulbs to store energy to thrive outdoors later, depending on the variety.
Fertilizing the tulips at the time of their planting would be ideal. This is because the tulips will not require any water until they start growing foliage. So, you can add little fertilizer to the potting mix.
The best way of fertilizing the tulips is by adding a 10:10:10 fertilizer ideal for flowering plants. Add it directly into the potting mix. Another way is by adding it with water and watering the bulbs while planting.
Generally, potted tulips will not need much fertilizer after planting.
Firstly, the bulb will contain a lot of nutrients the plant requires for flowering.
Secondly, you are already adding fertilizer at the time of planting. Moreover, after blooming, you can no longer force-grow them.
4. Ensure sound drainage and ideal pH for tulips
Typically tulips enjoy soft sandy and loamy soil. For making an ideal potting mix, use a lightweight mix for the tulips.
The best time to plant the tulips in the pot is during the early fall. The potting mix should be very well-drained. Use sand as one ingredient while making the potting mix. It will help in good drainage.
Tulips like neutral to slightly acidic soil. They need soil having pH levels ranging between 6.0 and 7.0.
Try to maintain such pH levels for your tulips. It will make them last longer and be healthy.
5. Maintain an ideal temperature indoors
Tulips require a cold temperature to survive, about 16°C. Usually, the tulips will bloom within 8-16 weeks after planting. An ideal temperature is required for their blooming.
In the beginning, the potted tulip bulbs need to be chilled at 40-45°F for at least 12-16 weeks. Then bring out the pots from the cold environment 5-6 weeks before their expected flowering.
Again, after bringing them out of the chilled and dark environment, keep them in a cool and dark location and wait for the sprouts to appear. When the sprouts are visible, shift them to a sunny area where they can get 6 hours of sun daily for abundant blooms.
For flowering, tulips require at least 65-68°F. As I said earlier, the potted tulips will not last more than 30 days after blooming.
In that case, you can store the bulbs in a relatively warm and dry location for outdoor planting. Whether these forced bulbs will bloom or not depends on the variety.
6. Don’t raise the humidity very high.
Tulips love to grow in dry areas rather than moist. High humidity gets accompanied by many spring and summer rains. This can rot the tulip bulbs.
Moreover, tulips remain dormant in the summers. So they do not require high humidity. They like dry weather to survive.
So if your room has any tropical plants and you have set a humidifier in that room, shift your tulips to some other area where the air is dry.
7. Pruning and maintenance will encourage more blooms
Not much maintenance is needed while forcing the bulbs to bloom indoors. The bulbs will not be able to last long after blooming.
But if you want to get more tulip blooms, you can dig up and store the bulbs and plant them outdoors.
Indoor tulips, after they bloom, will start fading and will not last long. But if you want them to stay alive, prune the flower stems from the plant’s base after the flowers have faded.
Pruning helps stop the plant from concentrating on seed growth and stores the energy in bulbs to bloom in the coming year.
However, as most tulips are forced to grow indoors, they might not bloom the second year, except for some exceptional varieties, for example, non-hybrids.
After pruning the stems:
1. Move the plant to a bright spot and continue caring for the plant as you were doing till now.
2. Keep the soil moist
3. Fertilize the plant every 2-4 weeks with a balanced fertilizer.
4. Prune the leaves only when they start turning and fade. The bulbs will conserve energy from the green leaves to gather more energy to thrive and flower profusely.
8. Use the right type and size of the pot
Whatever pot you choose for your tulips, the first thing you should always make sure about is a drainage hole. Tulips will not at all like soggy and waterlogged soil. They require slightly moist soil.
The next thing you should ensure about the pot is its size and shape. The pot should be broad, flat bottomed, and 6-8 inches deep. Keep a tray or saucer beneath the pot.
Now coming to material, all types of pot – ceramic, clay, plastic, and metal – will be ideal for growing tulips indoors.
I want to recommend you use clay or terra cotta pots. They are very porous and can wick away moisture quickly. So, if your tulips are facing excess moisture, you will have to worry less about them.
9. Clip the tulips to enjoy them in a vase
Tulips can be cut and enjoyed in a vase indoors anytime you want them to enjoy. While cutting the tulips, don’t do anything with the foliage.
Letting it attached to the bulb will help the bulbs to keep accumulating energy for themselves.
If you want the cutting tulips to last longer in the vase, prune the tulips during their advanced bud stage, which means a situation where the bloom is yet to open, and the color has become very much prominent.
Cut at least ½ inch of the stem at an angle with a sharp, sterilized pruner to cut the tulips. Now, place the plant in a vase filled with water.
Tulip cuttings will be thirsty, so you will have to change the water daily and make a fresh cutting at the stem base.
The blooms will last for 3 to 7 days. Don’t accompany tulips with other plants like daffodils or paperwhite narcissus in the same vase. They tend to release a sap which can shorten the life of tulips.
10. Growing tulips in water
Enjoying tulips indoors in water is another profound way. Growing tulips in water are very easy and time-saving. All you need is a big healthy bulb.
Growing tulips in water in a glass jar or vase will also help you know the roots’ condition. Either in soil or water, you should chill the bulbs for at least 12 to 14 weeks before taking steps of the plantation.
For growing tulips in water:
1. Select a glass jar or vase so that you can watch the roots. You can choose any other jar or vase if you want.
2. Fill the jar with a 2-inch layer of rocks or glass beads.
3. Place the bulb on the top with the pointed side upwards.
The motive behind using the rocks or glass beads is to hold the bulb out of the water, whereas the growing roots should be immersed in water.
Now fill the jar with water until it measures 1 inch from the bottom of the bulb. Now keep the jar in a cool and dark area for 4-6 weeks. Change the water every week and wait until you see the sprouts.
In a few months, shift the sprouted bulb to a bright lighted area and grow them. A good amount of sunlight will encourage healthy bulb growth, strong stems, and prolific blooms.
Once the flowers start fading, let them remain like that to encourage a more blooming cycle.
Once the foliage starts fading, you will have to remove the plant along with the bulb out of the vase. Storing the bulb will be of no use because they might not bloom again.
Also read: Do Tulips Grow In Water? (Care+How To)
Though tulips are not grown indoors, growing them indoors and taking care of them is difficult. But, of course, it is a bit different than outdoors. Outdoors, tulips are not forced to grow or bloom.
They will re-bloom year after year, with proper care and maintenance. Moreover, outdoor growing conditions are pretty ideal for tulips.
But, indoors, tulips are forced to grow. That is the reason the bulbs might not encourage re-blooming in the second year.
Moreover, tulips will not last long in pots indoors. After they finish their blooming, tulips will last for at least 15 to 30 days.
Still, growing tulips indoors can give your indoor space a different look, a pretty look.