Big, bold tulip blooms are a springtime joy in the landscape. Fosteriana tulip plants are one of the biggest of the bulbs. They were developed from a wild tulip strain found in the mountains of Central Asia. While there are many series, probably the best known are the Emperor Fosteriana tulips. With massive blooms and elegant elongated form, these bulbs pack a punch in the garden. Learn how to grow Fosteriana tulips and enjoy them in your beds or as cut blooms to liven the home interior.
What are Fosteriana Tulips?
Fosteriana tulip plants perennialize beautifully. Their reliability year after year is one reason gardeners are wild about these bulbs. Yet, others are the jewel tones and architectural stature combined with some of the biggest tulip flowers available. They are also one of the earliest tulips to bloom in spring.
Growing tulips takes some preplanning, as they need a chilling period and must be installed in fall. However, once the bulbs are in their happy place, they will return annually with bigger displays and larger blooms.
Emperor Fosteriana tulips can grow up to 20 inches (50 cm.) tall with slender cup-shaped flowers that approach 5 inches (12 cm.) wide. They come in tones of yellow, white and red, with several hues of the latter. The Emperor series may also have variegated sepals or leaves, adding extra interest to these big bloomers.
How to Grow Fosteriana Tulips
As with most bulbs, tulips prefer full sun locations in nutrient rich, well-draining soil. They are perfect for borders, rock gardens, beds, containers or even naturalized in grass. Plant them en masse for a sweeping landscape of color.
Plant 6 to 8 weeks before the first expected frost in autumn. In soil that is clay or heavy, incorporate sand to increase porosity. The most common death for bulbs is boggy soil. Loosen soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm.) and mix in 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm.) of compost.
The rule of thumb is to plant bulbs three times the height of the bulb. A nice deep installation will help prevent squirrel damage and ensure the heavy blooms stay upright on the slender stems.
Emperor Tulip Care
Bulbs store all the energy they need for one year of growth. For the healthiest plants, feed in early spring with a time release bulb food, bone meal or compost. In most areas, fall rains will provide sufficient water to newly planted bulbs, but in areas where it does not rain at least once per week, water weekly until the first freeze.
After the blooms have faded, remove them but leave the foliage. This is how the plant will gather solar energy to store as plant sugars for the next year’s growth. Leave foliage intact for 6 weeks or until it turns yellow before removing it.
In areas with heavy rodent activity, it may be necessary to place wire or a cage over the bulb site. Other than these tips, Emperor tulip care is a breeze and rewards you with bountiful blooms annually.