Tulips do best in areas with dry summers and cold winters. The brightly colored, upright flowers may be single or double, and vary in shape from simple cups, bowls, and goblets to more complex forms. They are excellent in beds and borders; many types are good for forcing into bloom indoors, and most are excellent for cut flowers.
Although tulips are a perennial, many gardeners treat them as annuals, to be planted anew each year.
How to Care
Plant tulip bulbs in autumn. Tulips prefer a site with full or afternoon sun. They dislike excessive moisture so try to ensure that the soil is well-drained, neutral to slightly acidic, fertile, and dry or sandy.
Plant bulbs 4 to 6 inches apart, so choose an appropriate plot size in the garden. Plant them deep—at least 8 inches, measuring from the base of the bulb. And that means digging even deeper, to loosen the soil and allow for drainage, or creating raised beds. Remember, the bigger the bulb, the deeper the hole it needs.
Set the bulb in the hole with the pointy end up. Cover with soil and press soil firmly.
Water bulbs right after planting. Although they can't bear wet feet, bulbs need water to trigger growth.
Rainy summers, irrigation systems, and wet soil are death to tulips. Never deliberately water a bulb bed. Wet soil leads to fungus and disease and can rot bulbs. Add shredded pine bark, sand, or anything to foster swift drainage.
If you're planning to raise perennial tulips, feed them when you plant them in the autumn. Bulbs are their own complete storage system and contain all of the nutrients they need for one year. Use organic material, or a balanced time-release bulb food. Compost annually. Ask us in store for more details.
Deadhead tulips after flowering. Allow the foliage to yellow for about 6 weeks after flowering before removing it.
The bulbs of tulips may be left in the ground for several years; others may be lifted annually once the leaves have died down, and ripened in a warm, dry place.
Pests and Diseases
Tulips are susceptible to grey mould, slugs and snails, aphids and bulb rot.
Tulip flowers may be single, double, ruffled, fringed, or lily-shaped, depending on the variety.
Wild, or Species, tulips are small in size, ranging in height from 3 to 8 inches. They are tougher than hybrids. One of the favorites is 'Lilac Wonder'.
Triumph hybrids are the classic single, cup-shape tulip that make up the largest grouping of tulip types.
- 'Cracker tulip' is a midspring bloomer with purple, pink, and lilac petals.
- 'Ile de France' is a midseason bloomer, with its intensely red blooms on stems to 20 inches tall.
- 'Calgary' is a midspring bloomer with snowy-white petals and blue-green foliage.