12 In Flower Garden

How Long Do Tulips Last?

How long do tulips last? The answer depends on the type you plant. How many years can you get beautiful flowers from a particular bulb depends almost entirely on the species.

How Long Do Tulips Last?

For those who said, “Yes, tulips are annuals and should be treated as such because they don’t come back as vigorously as in the first year – ” the bulbs that I had which grew into the short, stubby and small-flowered tulips were new bulbs planted in November 2011, so it wasn’t the fact that those bulbs were old.  In fact, the bulbs I planted three years ago are producing the best tulips this year.
Tulips can live anywhere from one to ten years, depending on the species and variety. The closer the tulips are to the wild varieties from Turkey, where the plant originated, the longer they live. A happy medium for those in gardening zones 4 through 8 in the United States is to find Darwin hybrid tulips, which continue producing beautiful flowers for several years.

Dividing Makes Them Last Longer

I purchased a bargain package heavily discounted at Wal-Mart about three years ago, planted them, and crossed my fingers.  Now they are tall, vigorous plants and it actually looks as if I need to dig them up this year and separate some of the little bulblets off of the parent bulbs – I have a feeling it’s getting rather crowded in there. These tulips in my garden are now 5 years old.
Note this statement from the North Dakota Cooperative Extension office: “Tulips will last much longer than two to three years, but they often need to be dug up and spaced every three to five years to maintain their blooming vigor. I would suggest that this fall, you dig them up and reset them with more spacing and possibly in some new locations.”

Treating Tulips as Annual Flowers

So why do some people treat tulips as annuals and others expect many years from them? I know that the commenter who posted about the famous Dutch gardens treating the bulbs like annuals is correct.
how long should tulips last

These tulips in my garden are now 5 years old.

If you want these flowers looking their absolute best, it’s best to treat them as annuals.  That probably explains why the garden center I worked at and the two famous demonstration gardens mentioned do the same thing.  The public expects such places to look spectacular, and they must provide a great show of flowers for the visitors. So to ensure the best and most beautiful tulip displays, my best guess is that they do replant the bulbs each year.
Here in Virginia, between the critters and the weather, tulips are a tricky operation.  I look forward to them every year and I guess I do need to adjust my expectations to view them as annuals, and if they return for more than one season, count my blessings and be thankful.




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  • ~Gardener on Sherlock Street
    March 29, 2012 at 1:48 am

    It certainly varies. I have some I’ve never divided still going strong. Others have disappeared. There is no one rule for tulips. Thank goodness I don’t have the critter issue.

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  • Jamie
    February 5, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    What great info!! My tulips have been coming up for over 10 years!! I love them! Thank you for sharing with us at the #HomeMattersParty

  • Stephanie
    February 7, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks for the info, I’ve been wanting to plant tulips in our yard for some time and I’m terrified I’m going to kill them and they won’t come back the next year.

  • Lorelai @ Life With Lorelai
    February 9, 2016 at 1:53 am

    Hahaha! Love the cats in the tulip bed! 🙂 Tulips are so pretty. They have always bee one of my favorite flowers…so colorful. Thanks for sharing and being a wonderful co-host of the #HomeMattersParty – we love having you on the team! 🙂

    Life With Lorelai

  • Derek white
    March 21, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    My father in law brought the bulbs over in 1972 from Scotland they still come up every year not as many now still get four heads

    • Jeanne
      March 22, 2016 at 8:51 am

      Wow, that is fantastic, Derek! They must be very hardy! Thanks for sharing a comment. Happy gardening!

  • Crystal
    April 10, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Beautiful tulips!! Since they come back each year, I could do this! LOL Having fun co-hosting with you! #HomeMattersParty

  • Michelle James
    April 11, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks for sharing this great information. I love tulips but like most of you, I wish they would last longer. I cheat and pick some up at the grocery store every Easter. I love the look in pitchers! #HomeMattersParty

  • Kim
    April 12, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    This is such great info! I have always struggles with tulips…the bunnies usually get to them before they even bloom. Pinning! #HomeMattersParty

  • Melissa
    April 13, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Tulips are my absolute favorite flower. Thank for this informative post and love the kitties in the picture.Love having you as cohost on #HomeMattersParty

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