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Crop Cultivation Guidence

Tulips (Tulipa species)


Tulip is first among bulbous ornamentals due to its attractively coloured and exquisite flowers. A number of fascinating and bewitching cultivars grown to perfection in a large variety of delicate and brilliant shades have developed tulips cultivation into a great bulb growing industry. In India, its cultivation so far is limited to a few amateur gardeners of the hilly areas in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Tulips are suitable for pot culture, in beds, borders, formal and informal location. They are also suitable for growing in basins in apple, orchards, lawns, rockeries and wild gardens. It belongs to the family Liliaceae.

The flower is shaped like a cup or egg with six petals. The flowers are self coloured or a combination of two or more colours and some are striped and marked with contrasting colours. The colours of flowers range from white to black including several like red, scarlet, crimson, terracotta, orange, pink, purple, violet, chocolate, brown, cherry, magenta, salmon, carmine, rose, cream, yellow, apricot, lilac, mauve, blue and various other hues.

Climate and Soil:

Tulip is planted in hills where night and day temperatures range between 5-10 and 20-250C respectively during growing season. Direct sun during morning and evening is beneficial for improving its flower quality, whereas partial shade is required during mid-day (12 PM to 4 PM). Frost is harmful mainly during bulb emergence. Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, Solan, Shimla, and Sirmour are most suitable areas for tulip cultivation.

A well drained, light sandy loam soil is most suitable. In heavy soils, well-decomposed manure should be thoroughly mixed.


There are various classes of garden tulips that are in cultivation. These are early flowering tulips like Duc van Tol, Single Early, Double Early, the mid season such as Mendal and Triumph, the late flowering tulips like Darwin, Darwin hybrids, Breeders, Lily flowered, Cottage, Rembrandt, Bijbloemen, Parrots, Double Late and Species tulips and their hybrids. A few species like Tulipa stellata and T. aitchisonii, are natives of Himalayas. T. stellata is commonly known as Star Tulip.


Tulips are propagated by bulblets and bulbs. Seed is also used to propagate but it produces different shades of flowers.


In midhills (1,000-1,800m above mean sea level) October-December is time of planting, whereas in high hills (above 1,800m above mean sea level) November-December and February. The staggered planting at 15 days intervals ensures regular cut flower supply. Bulbs should be planted 5-8cm deep at 15cmx10cm spacing in beds. In a 15cm pot, 3-5 bulbs should be planted. Watering in glass house/polyhouse every alternate day is beneficial, whereas in open areas irrigation should be at weekly interval. Partial shading during mid-day is beneficial for improving scape length and flower longevity. Interculture is necessary to keep the field weeds free and make soil porous.

Application of Manures & Fertilizers

No additional manures are required if soil is sufficiently rich. However, well-rotten farmyard manure @ 3-5 kg/m2 should be mixed thoroughly. Spraying of micronutrient rich solution Multiplex @ 50 ppm (once or twice) before colour-breaking is beneficial.

Flower Harvesting

Cut flowers: In midhills, tulips flower during February-April and in high hills during April-June. The scapes along with 2 leaves are cut when 25-50% colour develops on petals. The flowers are packed in bundles of 10 or 20 each. They are sent to markets after covering with newspaper to avoid bruishing injury.

Bulb Harvesting and Storage

Bulbs are harvested when leaves start turning yellow or 40-45 days after flowering. Old bulb scales and roots should be removed. They should be air-dried in partial shade. Putting them in wooden trays in single or double layers they are marketed. However, for quality flower production by succeeding crop, bulbs should be stored at 7-90C for 6-8 weeks during September-October for proper development of flower primodia, since tulips are very sensitive to fluctuating temperature which otherwise leads to flower abortion.

Plant Protection

Tulip flowers are attacked by thrips. Spraying of Rogor (0.05%) controls them effectively. Bulb rot is controlled by treating them with Bavistin (0.1%) or Dithane M-45 (0.2%).