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Why Are My Tulips Short This Year? [Main Reasons]

Why Are My Tulips Short This Year

Planting tulips is fun and exciting. It’s a beautiful sight watching the flowers grow from autumn to spring into bright and colorful liliaceous bloom.

Even though many people don’t expect their stems to be short, don’t be shocked if your flowers have a stunted growth this year.

Do you want to know why your tulips are short even though it is late spring and they are blooming already? Read more to learn the reasons tulips sometimes have short stems.

Reasons Your Tulips Are Short This Year

1. Tulips Are Available In Many Species

A factor that could be responsible for the short tulips stem could be the variety planted. Do you know this liliaceous plant has over one hundred and forty species? Yes, they do.

That explains the difference in the length; the length of the stem depends on the specie planted. For example, Darwin hybrids are usually taller than many other species.

Their stems grow as tall as sixty centimeters and are hardly shorter than fifty centimeters. Additionally, Ballerina hybrids grow stems that are rarely shorter than fifty-five centimeters.

However, the Red riding hood is amongst the few species that have a stumpy growth. They usually don’t grow above thirty-one centimeters. If you planted the red riding hood bulb, it should be clear now why your tulips are short this year.

Usually, it is uncommon for the tall varieties to grow short stems. For instance, the Ballerina or Darwin hybrids should not have stems shorter than fifty centimeters.

Yet, in a situation where they are unusually short other factors are responsible for the short tulips stems. If you want to know the other reasons, keep reading to understand why your liliaceous plants are short this year.

2. They Need Some Amount Of Cold Temperature To Grow Tall

Tulips are to be planted in autumn before it begins to snow and, everywhere is frozen. Planting them in autumn makes them thrive. They love the cold temperature in winter and the rain in spring.

Moreover, they need the cold in autumn to release hormones that make the stem tall.

If your liliaceous plant is not kept in a cold temperature of 350F to 550F for eight to fifteen weeks before they shoot, they will either not shoot at all or grow short stems when they shoot.

3. They Must Be Watered Before Blooming

Generally, tulips like their soil dry and can survive without so much watering. Although they don’t need so much watering to thrive, for them to grow long stems, they need to be watered three to four weeks before the plants are ready to bloom.

Therefore, if they don’t get enough water before they bloom, the liliaceous plants will come up stumpy and grumpy.

That may not be what you want, but that is the way nature works. Hence, if you want to avoid short tulips next year, make sure to water the plant just once a week with seventeen millimeters of water three to four weeks before they bloom.

How Often To Water When There Is Drought

When there is drought, you have to water the flowers weekly so that the soil will not be too dry. On the other hand, avoid waterlogging to prevent the flowers from fungal diseases.

For instance, the plant could develop the Pythium root rot, which causes gray spots on the bulb and stops the stem from sprouting, therefore leading to short tulips stem.

Also, planting them at a season earlier than autumn can lead to fungal diseases. For instance, if you plant them in early spring when it’s still raining, the bulbs will rot before they can even grow stems.

Hence, remember: watering should only take place 3-4 weeks before they bloom.

How Often To Water Tulips Planted In A Pot

On the other hand, the situation is a bit different for bulbs planted in a flowering pot. How? The soil in a flowering pot does not contain much water like those in an open field or garden. Hence, they tend to dry out faster.

Therefore, tulips planted in the soil need to be watered occasionally. However, make sure to plant in a container that has good drainage.

Moreover, water to keep only the top layers (preferably the first two inches) of the soil moist.

What To Do To Prevent Short Tulips?

1. Plant The Tall Hybrids

If you want tall tulips badly, make sure to get the bulbs of the tall varieties only. The best options are to plant either the Darwin or Ballerina hybrid.

However, ensure to water appropriately and allow them to thrive in cold temperatures as they ought to.

2. Plant In A Well-drained Soil

Before planting tulips in a pot, fill the pot with well-drained soil. Also, ensure that the pot you are planting in has a drainage hole, so the soil does not become waterlogged.

Also, plant the bulbs in healthy soil. They need no fertilizers if planted in soil with high nutrients.

3. Water Dry Soil

Since you already know that dry soil could be responsible for short tulips stems, make sure to keep just the top two inches of the soil layer moist.

It is better to water just once a month because they don’t need so much watering. Moreover, water less often in summer. However, always check the soil to make sure it doesn’t dry out unexpectedly.


A general tip to note is to plant tulips only in autumn. That way, they can pass through all the seasons at the right time. Moreover, doing so will enable the plants to grow as they ought to.

To give the bulb a chance to grow tall and healthily, plant them only when the soil temperature is at a 60oF. At that temperature, the plant grows healthy leaves and stems.

Also, Protect the bulb from excess water to prevent the plant from dying back. To sum up, after you have read the reasons your tulips are short this year, avoid making the same mistake in the next planting season so the plants will not have stunted growth.