Tulips are probably the best-known of the early spring-blooming bulbs. Although they are historically associated with Holland, they actually are descended from species that are native to the Middle East. They come in almost any color except blue, and their blossoms can be single or double, fringed or ruffled.
How They Grow
Tulips grow from true bulbs, which are made up of layers of stored nutrients–similar to onions, to which they’re related–and covered by a papery brown skin or tunic. Like most other true bulbs, they produce bulblets or offsets around the mother bulb. You need to know how to divide tulips because they will need to be divided every few years. When blooms diminish, it’s time to divide them.
Divide Your Tulips
In early summer after the tulips are done blooming and their leaves have died back, use a garden fork to gently lift the bulb from the soil. Separate the bulblets from the parent bulb; use a sharp knife if necessary, but they usually can be easily pulled apart. If you do make any cuts, dust the cut edges with fungicide before replanting. Replant the original bulb in the same spot, and plant the bulblets in your chosen new location.
Plant Your New Bulblets
Tulips prefer a sunny location with well-drained soil that contains rich organic matter, so add manure or compost to your flower bed if necessary before planting your new bulblets. Plant each one at at depth of 5 to 8 inches, and about 4 to 6 inches apart. Make sure that the pointed end of the bulblet is upward. Large bulblets may bloom the next year, but smaller ones may take two or three years to get big enough to produce blooms.