Tulips perform best in full sun but will tolerate a bit of shade (some afternoon shade will prolong flower life, especially in the South). They require well-drained soil. Treat tulips as annuals if you want a perfect display: After they flower, lift and discard the bulbs and replant fresh ones in the fall. In a less formal situation, you can leave the bulbs in place. The flowers will be uneven in size and height and generally much fewer in number, but that can have its own charm.
To encourage tulips to bloom again in future years we recommend that you:
- Remove the spent flowers as soon as the bulbs finish blooming. Snapping off the top 3 inches of the flower stem prevents seed formation and focuses energy instead on bulb growth.
- Allow the foliage to wither completely before you remove it.
- Avoid summer irrigation. Tulips prefer to be dry during their dormancy.