If you want to tiptoe through tulips in September or October, May is the month to plant them. If you live in a warmer area of the country, ideally you should have been chilling your tulips for six weeks prior to planting.
Tulips originate from mountainous countries, with colder winters than ours, so artificial chilling is necessary to allow the bud to complete development and to ensure the plants have nice, long stems.
However, your spring need not be ruined if you haven’t done this. Paul Hoek from NZ Bulbs says that if you chill tulip bulbs now for three to four weeks and plant them in early June, this should be fine. Put the bulbs in the fridge in a paper bag and keep them away from your fruit and veges that produce the ripening gas ethylene which can prevent flower and root formation.
Alternatively, plant your bulbs at least 20cm deep where the soil is cooler. Work the soil to at least 35cm to allow space for root development.
Tulip bulbs from NZ Bulbs are still available and as they’re based in Feilding, they’ve already had a decent amount of chill. tender texture. Twist off by hand or snip with a pair of scissors.