Originally from Turkey, the tulip has captivated the world since its arrival in Holland in the 16th century. We share tips for growing tulips in a warmer climate.

tips for growing tulips - SA Garden and Home

As they do best in cold climates, tulips are not often grown here in warmer South Africa. However new hybrids are being developed all the time and fortunately some more suited to our climate are available locally.


“There’s a definite art to growing tulips,” says local bulb expert and author, Charles Barnhoorn of Hadeco. This is what he recommends:

  • Tulips love cool soil so plant only when temperatures have dropped. Untreated tulips can be planted from March to May, while treated tulips should be planted in early June.
  • Find a spot that has morning sun but is protected from hot afternoon rays.

tips for growing tulips - SA Garden and Home

  • Tulips do well in containers but first place the container in a cool dark spot. When the leaves begin to show above the soil, move it into a position with morning sun and afternoon shade.

READ MORE: Growing roses in containers

  • Although tulips love moist soil they need good drainage. Add sand to improve this and mix in compost to increase moisture retention.
  • Plant bulbs with the pointed end facing upwards and cover them with 5cm of soil. It’s vital to cover this with an additional 2cm layer of compost mulch as this helps to regulate both the temperature and the moisture content of the soil.

Tips for growing tulips - SA Garden and Home

  • After planting, water bulbs deeply and repeat this every three to four days. Never let the soil dry out at root level.
  • There’s a choice of both regular bulbs and treated bulbs. Treated bulbs have been placed in cold rooms and are programmed to flower earlier and more reliably. They’re more tolerant of warmer conditions and are a better choice for containers.

tips for growing tulips - SA Garden and Home