Tulips are a wonder of the beautiful Spring Season. Every year the flower beds shine in spring with a variety of Tulip. Plenty of eye-catching colors just for one single season. Isn’t it great to have those Tulips in your garden? I know every one of us likes to grow tulips. Watching these beautiful Flowers blooming is an extraordinary experience. And for that most of us has to wait for the spring season every year. Tulip is a Spring flower but this doesn’t mean that you can’t have it bloom in another season. All you need is a well-organized greenhouse and you are good to go with Tulips even in late Summer. Don’t trust me?- No problem, keep reading and you’ll get what you want to Grow Tulips in a Greenhouse.
Check out this post: How to Grow Canby Raspberries?
Can I Grow Tulips in Greenhouse?
Yes, You can grow tulips in a greenhouse. Tulips are grown from bulbs. In wild, they remain dormant in the soil throughout the year. They literally wake up during winter. First, the roots develop, and then the shoot.
Within the next 8 to 14 weeks the shoot will develop some leaves and a beautiful flower cane. The tip of this central stem or cane bears the flowers. The flower will last for a couple of months and the stem for another 2 months. Finally, the plant will die above the ground but the bulb remains alive in a dormant state. This cycle will continue again next winter. The plant will again grow, bloom, and die. Generally, You can get only 1 cultivar of Tulips in the spring.
Now If you adapt this cycle with a greenhouse then the timing can be easily reduced by half or even more. You can control the Inside temperature and moisture level in the greenhouse. With little preparation, an artificial winter condition can be created. In a winter-like situation, the bulbs will start sprouting and with rising in temperature they will bloom early. Now there is no need to wait for spring to see your tulips bloom. Just control the environment and force the bulbs to bloom whenever you want.
Check out my previous post: When to Plant Bulbs in Greenhouse?
Is it difficult to Grow tulips in a Greenhouse?
No, not really. Growing Tulips in a greenhouse is not that difficult especially if you know the plant’s life cycle. Although it will require some extra preparation like cooling the bulbs, controlling temperature and sunlight, and then rising the temperature to force blooming.
The growth pattern of the Tulip bulb is still the same just as any outdoor garden. We are only manipulating the biological clock of the plant bulbs by changing the temperature before the actual season.
However, I must admit It can be a little tricky if not difficult to manage all of these at once. If your greenhouse is well maintained and you have some space in the cooler then it’s not that complicated. It only requires your support with shifting from storage to cooler for 2 months and then cooler to the bulb pan in the greenhouse.
Overall winter is very cold in your locality then there is no need for any cooler. The greenhouse temperature should be enough for the bulbs to sprout.
I hope all of these tasks are not very difficult for you. The effort is worthy if you know the reward is a beautiful Tulip.
Is it better to grow Tulips in a Greenhouse than outside?
This is completely your personal choice. No one can say that his choice is better than yours. Tulips are indeed easy to grow in the garden. Once you place the bulbs in the soil, it will take care of its own. It will rise out of the soil at the end of the winter. It’s pretty easy but you will get only one single bloom every year in the spring. Sometimes it is worth waiting to get those beautiful blooms.
But Waiting is boring especially if you are a commercial Tulip farmer. Commercially it is viable to grow Tulips inside the greenhouse to fulfill the market need year-round. You can also get your Tulips to bloom anytime throughout the year inside a greenhouse. The greenhouse has a clear-cut advantage of time control. Although the control of time, temperature, and moisture comes at a cost of a lot of money and effort. Not everyone is comfortable with that I think.
Therefore, deciding the better option as a greenhouse or open garden depends on your circumstances. If you already have a well-organized greenhouse then you are definitely a Lucky Gardener.
Also read: Spring Yard Clean up List: Garden Preparation
How to Grow Tulips in a Greenhouse?
There is mainly three-step with Tulip Plantation inside a greenhouse. The first is Preparing Soil or the Growing Media. The second step is the Vernalization of Cooling the bulbs. The third and final step is Forcing or gradual temperature increase to initiate faster blooming.
I think Cooling should be listed first but I like it in the second place. Ohh. Wait for a second! Before following any of these steps you should first get some Tulip bulbs. Otherwise, the whole Talk is worthless.
How to Select The Perfect Tulip Bulb for Greenhouse?
After all these years of flower gardening, I can only say Trust those bulb Suppliers who have some reputation in your community. Good Community response is the best sign to identify a trustworthy Plant or Bulb seller. And mind it, you are gonna need an authentic good quality Tulip Bulb to get some Blooms out in spring.
Once you find a good supplier then look out for the Tulip variety you wanna grow. There are 7 or 8 popular cultivars available almost anywhere in the world. I am not naming them here coz finding one bulb with a name is not possible in different countries.
All you need is to ask your seller for the plant specifics. Whether it blooms early in spring or is a late bloomer. Is this variety a tall one or a short high cultivar? There are several other common questions you should ask like soil, moisture, fertilizer, temperature requirements. Concluding to one important fact, make sure you know everything about the bulb you purchase.
Finally, select only big prime-size Tulip bulbs to grow. A Tulip bulb with a 12-inch circumference is the ideal one. You can choose a Tulip bulb with a size 6 to 12 inches in circumference or minimum 3-inch diameter. Bulbs smaller than 6-inch circumference may not bloom in the current season. Although some Tulip varieties may have smaller optimum bulb sizes.
Container to grow Tulip bulbs in Greenhouse
Use a 4 to 8-inch bulb pan instead of a normal Conical pot or container. Tulips bulbs grow best in clay or terracotta containers. Although you can grow it in any wooden or Plastic Pot or container.
The container should be flat with a minimum 4-inch depth. If you are planning to buy some then ask for a Bulb pan in your local garden store. You can also search for Blub Pan on Amazon.
Preparing Soil or Grow Media
You can either use Compost with cocopeat as a soilless media or any flower soil mix to grow tulip bulbs. I am using my own homemade soil mix to grow tulips since 2013. It is doing great for my garden conditions. You can either buy a commercial soil mix or make it on your own.
You will need-
- 30% Clean Garden Soil
- 40% old dry and aged Compost or manure
- 20% Coco peat or Cococoir mush
- 5% Perlite
- 5% fine limestone or wood ash mixed with Calcium nitrate fertilizer.
This mixture is sufficient for your Tulips. You can also add superphosphate, bone meal, Potash composites, and a little bit of contact or systemic fungicide to the soil mix. Proper soil composition can get you rewarded in any Spring flower show. If you are planning for something special then spray your plants with seaweed extract once it starts crowning out of the soil.
You should read this: DIY Best Homemade potting mix
Vernalization or Cooling of Tulip Bulbs
Vernalization is a process of inducing artificial winter conditions to manipulate the natural biological cycle of any plant. Bulbs especially Tulips respond quickly to this slow cooling process.
You have to cool the bulbs for 6 to 8 weeks in a subsequent manner to induce artificial winter. The Tulip bulbs can be vernalized with or without growing media. Though I prefer cooling the bulbs in Cocopeat and compost mix. This is probably the safest way to wintering the Tulip bulbs. Just Don’t ever freeze the bulb or it may die.
Take a 4 to 6-inch Bulb Pan and fill it half with Growing media. Then place the bulbs keeping the crown up. The tip or shoot porting must point upward. Finally, moisten the soil mix and cover the bulbs with the same growing media.
Leave the Bulb Pan for 24 to 48 hours in a cool dark place. The moisture will balance out at this time. Finally, place the Container in a Cooler for the next 2 months.
It requires a stable temperature of 40 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 months. You can check for root growth during this phase. The bulbs should develop lots of healthy roots within 6 to 8 weeks of Vernalization.
Once you see roots coming out of the drainage holes if you are using a grow media then increase the temperature to 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit for the next couple of weeks.
This temperature rise will encourage shoot growth. The shoots will take another 3 or 4 weeks to reach the surface of the growing media. Till then wait and watch, keep the soil mix moist to avoid dehydration.
Forcing the Tulip Bulbs to Bloom before Time
Forcing simply means encouraging the bud formation with a gradual increase in temperature. You have to plan this step 4 or 5 weeks before your requirement. For example, if need your Tulips on Valentine’s Day i.e., 14th of Feb then you have started the Forcing procedure by the last week of December. Christmas week should be good to force the Tulip bulbs.
Make sure the Tulip bulbs are undergoing a controlled Vernalisation before Forcing. Otherwise, The plant will not develop enough to bear a flower. Vernalisation is essential for Forcing a Tulip bulb to bloom.
You have to take out the rooted Tulip bulbs to the greenhouse. Keep the bulbs in a bright spot where they can get maximum possible sunlight. Keep the greenhouse temperature between 55 to 62 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it can bloom at 70 to 75 degrees the flower quality may degrade at temperatures above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your greenhouse is unheated then make sure it receives enough sunlight to raise the daytime temperature above 50 degrees.
Most tulip bulbs will bloom in a temperature range of 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It will take 6 to 8 weeks to bloom in 40 degrees while only 4 or 5 weeks in 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Get some tulip bulbs, cool them at 42 degrees for 2 months. Then Place them in the greenhouse at 45 to 60 degrees for another 4 to 8 weeks. That’s it. If you have prepared everything with care including the soil. Then further fertilization should not be required. Slow vernalization and Forcing will help you in getting Tulip blooms whenever you want. Now you don’t have to wait for spring to get your favorite Tulips.