Tulips are a favourite, I plant them every year, but they need treating differently to other spring flowering bulbs, so I thought they deserved a post all of their own.
Buying tulip bulbs:
Choose plump, healthy bulbs without any blemishes or traces of mould on them, the bigger bulbs produce the best flowers.
Specialist growers have more choice of varieties, but local garden centres are just as good for the usual types.
I open up the bags as soon as I get them home and keep them in paper bags until they’re planted. Plastic bags can cause damp conditions, which is a real enemy of bulbs, making them prone to mould.
Planting tulip bulbs:
Plant them later than other bulbs, from early November or even December, this gives frost the chance to kill off any spores of the dreaded ‘tulip fire’, a nasty, deforming fungal disease.
Tulips like well-drained soil, so add a layer of grit to the base of the planting hole if your soil is clay or likely to stay damp for too long.
Plant them deep, so that the tip of the bulb is at least 5cm/6in below the surface.
Try and plant them where the leaves will be hidden when the plant has finished flowering, low growing shrubs make a good cover-up. Tulips don’t fade elegantly and the leaves have to be left to die back naturally, planting near low growing shrubs works well.
They need feeding up after flowering with a sprinkling of general fertiliser around their base , so that they’ll produce plenty of flowers next year.
Let the foliage die-back and turn brown naturally, the leaves are feeding up the bulb by photosynthesizing, so cutting them off early means the bulbs will be smaller and not make such good flowers next year.
A final tip:
If you’re growing tulips to make a nice composition with other bulbs, like hyacinths, make sure that they will all flower at the same time.
Here’s an earlier post about planting spring flowering bulbs.
all images: Jill Anderson