Planting tulip bulbs in a Pacific Northwest garden

It's almost Tulip-time! Tulips represent the beginning of Spring and are a wonderful addition to any Pacific Northwest garden. So let's talk about planting tulip bulbs.

Growing tulips in the gardenYou don't have to go to Mount Vernon, Washington to see a spectacular tulip garden. Though a trip to see the tulip fields in Mt. Vernon is still a good idea, you can stay home and enjoy tulips in your own garden. Watch the tulip bulbs grow from green noses poking out of the soil to brilliant splashes of silky color in just a few weeks.

Planting tulip bulbs and growing tulips in the Pacific Northwest

Plants that keep deer from eating tulipsPlanting tulip bulbs means you get to select your own favorite color combinations and enjoy them all spring and sometimes into summer. Tulips generally need be planted in the fall (October or November) so they have time to grow roots and get ready to flower in the spring, but if the tulips are a variety that bloom in late spring or summer, you can plant them now and they may still surprise you with some beautiful blooms.

Dig each hole about 3 inches deep. Using a cylinder bulb shovel makes this process a cinch. Most gardens in the Pacific Northwest have adequate soil for planting tulips, but to give your tulips the best chance of success you can add a little sand/compost mixture.

In the spring, many of the trees in the Pacific Northwest are still without leaves. This is good news for planting tulip bulbs. Spring tulips grow best when planted in sunny areas so if you wish to plant them under a deciduous tree, it will probably grow just fine.

How to keep animals from eating the tulip garden?

I once heard a homeowner say that they had never seen the color of their tulips because every year the deer would eat the flower buds before they started to bloom. How discouraging! If you live in an area where deer frequent, you might try planting your tulips in a hanging basket close to a window, or plant fritillaria imperialis in amongst the tulips - they give off a scent that deer and squirrels generally do not like. Planting onion or garlic plants next to your tulips may also protect your tulip garden. If the animals are just too insistent, you might have to buy a tulip bouquet and plant daylilies instead.

To keep mice, rats, and moles from devouring your tulip bulbs, try wrapping each bulb in chicken wire and crimp together before placing in the ground.

Digging up the tulip bulbs

You do not have to dig up your tulip bulbs in the Pacific Northwest. Generally, tulip bulbs will continue to flower for at least a few years. You may want to add fresh tulips to your tulip garden each year to keep it looking thick and colorful. Tulip bulbs are quite hardy and, other than a little mulch added to the ground sometime in December, they usually do not need much tender loving care.

Environmental Construction Inc. provides a garden stewardship/maintenance service, which includes planting bulbs and maintaining gardens. Contact us by phone, email us (, or request a consultation through our website.

Grow tulips and reap the rewards -- they will greet you with a smile and say, "Happy Spring!"

Category: Tips for Planting

Environmental Construction, Inc.

It's not simply about designing and building beautiful garden spaces, it's about providing a landscape oasis where you can relax from the daily grind and recharge. Let us create an outdoor space that will enhance your home and quality of life.

Read More Here