Free Tulip Bulbs in Chicago 2012

Free Tulip Bulbs in Chicago 2012

Have you ever wondered what becomes of all those tulips you see planted in parks and planters around the Loop? Maybe you've seen them being planted or being taken out after the blooms have faded and thought that they're just trashed or composted. The truth is that every spring the City of Chicago and Chicago Park District pull all of the tulips from downtown and Chicago parks to replace them with warmer season plantings.

They get collected and sorted by volunteers of TulipMania at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Tulipmania is a plant giveaway event that recycles these bulbs so they can be distributed to gardeners like you, for free! The tulip bulbs are distributed in bags on a first come, first served basis until all the bulbs are gone.

According to the GPC website, "Typically each visitor will get one or two bags packed with tulip bulbs (they will be pre-bagged). Please note that the gate will be opening an hour earlier than usual this year. The tulip bulbs are typically gone one to two hours after the gate opens. Also happening at the Garfield Park Conservatory on April 28th is the 20th Annual Green and Growing Fair from 11am-4pm, so stick around afterwards to prepare yourself for the upcoming growing season.

Members skip the line! GPCA Members are given priority access through a member line – if you’re not a member, you can buy a membership the day of the event. If you would like to volunteer to help bag the tulips, shifts are scheduled for the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday prior to the event. Contact Mattie Wilson at for more information about volunteering for TulipMania."

So now you know what happens to all those tulips and how you can get free tulips to plant in your garden. The only question is, how early can you wake up on the 28th?



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  • I would love some of those tulips to plant in my yard. I wonder why the city can't keep them planted for next year?

  • In reply to Yoga Mom:

    It's a matter of convenience. The plants in the planter are changed out in the spring and summer. Leaving the bulbs in would make the work of landscapers more difficult. Also, after a few years tulip varieties start to weaken and don't produce blooms. They'll start looking sparse and they won't look as nice.

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