Image by The Glass Beehive*
By Heather Rhoades
Some interesting facts about tulips are that wild tulips are native to the arid regions of Central Asia. The original species have a limited color range of mostly reds and yellows and tend to have smaller flowers than modern cultivars and hybrids, which can flower in strong bright colors and pastel shades. Their colors can provide you with a wide pallet of colors to “paint” your garden with. Learning how to take care of tulips will make adding these flowers to your garden easy.
Tulip Planting Tips for Choosing Bulbs
The bulbs you buy in fall already have an embryo flower tucked away inside. This embryo is just waiting to begin growing in the spring. Because of these facts about tulips, you will want to choose tulips like any other bulbs, making sure they are nice and fat and firm. Avoid any that are soft, flabby, moldy, or whose papery cover is missing.
You will want to purchase your tulip bulbs along with all your other bulbs in late August or early September, but wait to plant them until October and November. Sometimes even December works best if you live in mild winter areas.
Tulips are so eager to grow that if you plant them right when you purchase them, they’ll send their leaves up right away. This will only freeze them in the winter. You should store bulbs in paper bags, not plastic, while waiting to plant them, and keep them in a cool place.
Taking Care of Tulips During Bulb Storage
When it comes to tulips, care and proper storage are essential. It is one of the known facts about tulips that if you have the room, you should keep tulip bulbs in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer.
Don’t put them with apples and other fruit. Apples and bananas give off ethylene gas, which helps fruit ripen but kills the flower bud inside any bulbs. If you don’t have room in the fridge when taking care of tulips, don’t put tulip bulbs in the freezer, it will kill them.
Tulip Planting Tips for Choosing a Location
Keep the following tulip planting tips in mind before planting:
- You will want to keep the tulip bulbs really dry. Keep them well ventilated as well.
- You should plant your tulip bulbs in the fall from September to December, or they send their leaves up in time to get frozen by winter. Don’t plant too early.
- The tulip bulbs will rot in wet soil. Be sure to plant the bulbs in areas that have good drainage.
- Pick a sunny site because tulips won’t grow well in shade.
- Protect your plants from pests as well.
- You should plant the bulb in groups of ten if you’re putting it in your perennial border, and space them a couple of inches apart.
Tulip Planting Tips for Soil Preparation
It is easy to plant tulips. Care of the soil is important when taking care of tulips. First prepare the soil:
- Pick a sunny site that has good drainage.
- Dig the area and loosen the soil about a foot deep.
- You should add some compost or dried manure to the soil.
- Add some 5-10-5 or 5-10-10 granular fertilizer to help the bulbs grow.
- Mix the existing soil, soil amendments, and fertilizer, just like a cake batter until it’s all mixed together.
Tulip Planting Tips for Planting Tulips
After you have properly prepares the site for the tulips, you can easily dig the individual planting holes:
- You need to dig each hole three times as deep as the tulip bulb is tall. There should be twice as much soil over the tip of the bulb as height of the bulb, so if your tulip bulb measures 2 ½ inches tall, dig your hole 8 inches deep, so you’ll have 5 inches of soil above the bulb.
- Set the bulb so the pointy end is facing up. Don’t worry if you get some upside down. They should flower anyhow, but it will take them longer to come through the ground in spring and they may not be as tall as they should.
- After the tulips bulbs are planted, you need to water them thoroughly and then cover the area with a mulch of pine bark or shredded leaves to protect them.
With tulips, care and attention to detail will reward you and your garden with a glorious spring display.