I was talking with a friend about looking forward to signs of spring. She said she hopes her tulips come back again this year, after putting on such a dazzling display in 2013. She reminded me of this post from a few years ago. Since it was on her mind, I thought some of you might be wondering the same thing, so here's my advice, along with several comments from readers. Please feel free to add your own.
Digging holes for bulbs in the fall is not a fun task, so we'd like to think the plants will stick around for a few years, at least. Tulips can be cruel that way. Many of them either thin out year after year, or disappear in a season. All tulips aren't created equal and you need to experiment to see which tulips are well suited to your area. The popular Dutch hybrids prefer cooler climates while tulips native to the Mediterranean and Asia are better suited to warmer climates. Southern gardeners swear by T. clusiana 'Lady Jane' . In the north, Darwin tulips are some of the most reliable returnees.
Also, most tulips don't like wet soil during their summer dormancy. Planting them in an area of your garden that you don't water frequently will help their survival. And finally, they will need some protection from marauding animals. Deer, squirrels, mice, chipmunks and voles all love tulips.
Bonus Question: Why do cut tulip stems twist around in the vase?