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Ask Burton: This week, a quick rundown on a favorite early spring flower. Q: I would like to plant tulips for a pretty show this spring. I’ve tried them before but my blooms were stunted and not all that showy. How can I do better?

Posted on October, 06

A: Tulips are one of the showiest flowers of the late winter and early spring, but you do need to know a few things to get the best show from them.

For starters, you’ll want to buy your tulip bulbs now, because tulips are a plant which requires chilling to bloom properly. These plants are native to climates with cooler temperatures for longer periods of time than we naturally have in North Texas, so you’ll want to artificially chill these bulbs in your refrigerator for at least six weeks before planting them. Place them in the crisper drawer in your refrigerator, and make sure you don’t store fruit in the fridge during this time, as fruit emits a gas which will stunt the blooms of your tulips. Put them in a paper sack, or a ventilated mesh bag, not a plastic bag – they need to have adequate air flow.

Plant your tulips as we come into December, and dig in some blood and bone meal around their planting area to promote the best growth and bloom. You’ll do better than you’ve done in previous years.

 Burton specializes in diagnosing and solving plant problems. If you have a question for Burton, please email him at and include photos showing the problem.