Brightly colored tulips are fun to grow and will enhance any garden, even a small plot in the city. The challenge of making sure tulips return every year can be mitigated with proper fertilizing – the type at exactly the right time.
Timing of Fertilizer
Tulips are usually one of the early harbingers of spring and can be one of the first flowers to make their appearance every year. But the best time to fertilize tulips is actually in the fall. During the fall, the bulbs are getting ready for winter by sending out roots. By fertilizing at this time, you are ensuring that the bulbs are most able to absorb the nutrients provided by the fertilizer. In the spring, while the flowers are blooming, the bulbs themselves are dormant and getting ready for summer, their quiet time. The bulb is not prepared in spring to absorb nutrients.
Never place fertilizer in the hole when you plant the bulb. The highly concentrated fertlizer can burn the newly emerging roots and damage the plant or even kill it. Apply fertilizer to the top of the soil. This allows it to become less concentrated as it seeps down into the ground.
Which Fertilizer to Choose
The best fertilizer for tulips is one that is mixed in a ratio of 9-9-6. Also, a slow-release fertilizer will release nutrients to the roots continuously and avoid nutrients being leached away from the plant before it can absorb and properly utilize them. Organic fertilizer mixture, which incorporates equal parts of bone meal, blood meal and greensand, can be effective, but you will have to be careful as this has the drawback of drawing animals to your garden.