This Fall: Plant 100 Tulip Bulbs in 30 Minutes

From meals to workouts, 30 minutes seems to be the timeframe that modern Americans have to spare for activities that otherwise seem too time consuming. Gardening surely fits into that category for many — so flower bulb expert Tim Schipper has devised a method to help homeowners plant a dramatic spring tulip display in just 30 minutes this fall.

To bloom in spring, tulips, daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs must be planted in the fall, which happens to be a lovely season to spend some time outdoors.

“Start by planting a minimum of 100 tulips,” says Schipper, a third generation bulb merchant and owner of Colorblends,, a Connecticut-based wholesaler that sells direct to landscape professionals and home gardeners coast-to-coast, with a minimum order of $60.

Following are Schipper’s tips for a quick and easy fall planting:

Choose the right spot — Bulbs like sunlight, so choose a planting spot that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Remember, in spring, when the trees are leafless, you may have more light than you think. The spot must drain well, so avoid places with soggy soil where rainwater collects. Plan for five tulip bulbs per square foot. Using a bit of easy math, a planting of 100 tulips needs approximately 20 square feet. Since the area of a space is length times width, the bed could measure, for example, four by five feet or two feet by ten feet, depending on the look you want.

Keep it simple — Dig out your planting spot (about 15 minutes). Forget special bulb tools or trowels. They’re hard to use and time consuming. Just dig a shallow trench. Lay out something to put the dug-up soil on (old plywood, stiff cardboard or a tarp are good choices). Dig the trench about 6 inches deep, loosen the soil a bit at the bottom. No fertilizer is necessary. The tulip bulbs you buy in the fall come fully charged with stored food, plus the embryonic flower inside that is ready to grow.

Position bulbs, all at once — Now, evenly scatter the 100 bulbs in the trench. Then quickly arrange them roughly three inches apart, pointy ends up (about 5 minutes, no need to be perfect).

Refill the planting area with soil — Slide the soil back into the shallow trench to cover the bulbs (about 10 minutes). Again, don’t worry if some of the bulbs flip or turn sideways. Tulips are geotropic, which means they’ll right themselves as they grow. If the soil is dry, water thoroughly.

You’re done — Put your spade away and wait for the riot of color come spring.