How to Grow Tulips Using Only Potatoes and Dirt

How to Grow Tulips Using Only Potatoes and Dirt

Growing beautiful tulips using only potatoes and dirt may sound impossible, but it’s actually a fun gardening project that anyone can do! With a few simple steps, you can turn old potatoes into a colorful tulip garden.

Selecting the Right Potatoes

The first step is choosing the right potatoes to grow your tulips. Look for:

  • Small potatoes – select small new or fingerling potatoes about 2-3 inches long. Large potatoes may not sprout well.

  • Firm potatoes – avoid old, mushy potatoes. The potato should feel firm with no moldy spots.

  • Sprouting potatoes – potatoes that are sprouting will likely grow quickest. Look for small green sprouts.

  • Organic potatoes – organic potatoes have not been treated with chemicals that could inhibit growth.

I had the best luck using small, sprouted red potatoes. Yukon gold or other varieties can also work well. Avoid using commercially grown russet potatoes, as they may be treated to prevent sprouting.

Planting the Potatoes

Once you’ve selected your potatoes, it’s time to plant them:

  • Dig holes or trenches 4-6 inches deep. Space the holes/trenches 12 inches apart.

  • Place a potato in each hole with the sprouts facing up. Bury the potato under 3-4 inches of soil.

  • Water the soil thoroughly after planting.

Make sure soil drains well and has mixed in compost or fertilizer to provide nutrients. I planted my potatoes in Miracle-Gro Potting Mix. The soil should be loose enough for the sprouts to emerge.

Caring for Potato Plants

Caring for the potatoes is simple:

  • Water 1-2 times per week, keeping soil consistently moist but not soaked. Add more water during hot, dry periods.

  • Once sprouts emerge, water the base of the plants instead of from overhead to avoid fungal issues.

  • Place in an area with at least 6 hours of sunlight daily.

  • Watch for insects like aphids and manually remove any you see.

  • Cut off any flowers that form on the plants to encourage fuller foliage growth.

The sprouts will rapidly grow thicker stalks and leaves, taking on the look of a tulip plant. It’s amazing to watch the process happen in just a few weeks!

Harvesting Tulip Bulbs

After 12-16 weeks, the potato plants will start to die back. Once the leaves fully wilt and turn brown, it’s time to dig up your tulip bulbs.

  • Use a shovel or garden fork to carefully dig around each plant.

  • Gently loosen the soil to remove the entire plant.

  • Cut off the foliage, leaving just the rounded bulb.

  • Cure bulbs in a cool, dry spot for 2 weeks to toughen skins.

You should find nice bulbs the size of golf balls attached to the potatoes. Carefully separate the bulbs from the potatoes, handling gently to avoid damaging them.

Planting Tulip Bulbs for Spring Bloom

Potato-grown tulip bulbs can be planted in fall and forced to bloom the following spring, just like regular tulip bulbs!

  • Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil.

  • Plant bulbs 4-6 inches deep and 6 inches apart in early fall.

  • Water bulbs at planting and as needed until ground freezes.

  • Add mulch on top of soil to protect bulbs through winter.

  • Next spring, beautiful tulips in a variety of colors will emerge!

It’s incredible to go from a simple potato planted in spring to gorgeous blooming tulips the next year. With just potatoes, soil and a bit of love, you can enjoy a bounty of colorful tulips.

Tips for Growing Great Potato Tulips

Here are a few additional tips for success:

  • Start with the freshest, firmest organic potatoes you can find.

  • Amend soil with compost or manure to provide extra nutrients.

  • Keep plants consistently moist and in full sun for rapid growth.

  • Be patient – it takes 3-4 months for harvestable bulbs to form.

  • Handle bulbs gently when digging up and separating from potatoes.

  • Store cured bulbs in a cool (40-50°F), dark place until planting.

Follow these steps and you’ll be amazed at the tulip bulbs you can grow for free using just spare potatoes! It’s a fun gardening project the whole family will love.