Top Tips for Planting Tulip Bulbs

tulip bulbs

If daffodils are the ‘Number One’ bulbous flower there can be no doubt about which comes second – the tulips which, with their kaleidoscope of colours, can be used to create dazzling displays in the garden. They have the happy knack of being pleased with almost any reasonable garden soil and sun or light shade makes little difference to their performance. As with the daffodils, though, the diversity of this genus can be a cause of bewilderment to the newcomer to gardening, so I shall do what I can to introduce you to the different types available.

More and more interest is being shown in the delightful tulip species and their hybrids, for these are in many cases excellent for planting in rock gardens or beside stone paving where they will make a colour show in spring and early summer. Tulipa kaufmanniana, the Water-lily Tulip, is a species which has given us a wonderful range of March – April flowering hybrids, all 6 to 8 in. tall and suitable alike for rock garden or border planting. They can be left undisturbed for years, like the other tulip species, but unlike the tulips of gardens, which must be lifted and stored when the foliage has died down. Varieties of note are the coral-rose Fritz Kreisler, the white, cream and red Johann Strauss and the cream, crimson and bronze Vivaldi.

Taller (between 1 and 1-½ ft.) are the lovely Fosteriana tulips of which Easter Parade is an example. Another splendid variety of this type is Madame Lefeber (or Red Emperor as it is often called). The 9 to 12 in. tall greigii hybrids are especially notable for their lovely coloration and the handsome markings on their leaves. These are April flowering. Then for May flowering there are the Viridiflora or Green Tulips, 9 in. to 2 ft. tall, which have distinctive green markings on the petals.

Of the species proper one of the finest is the yellow T. tarda, with yellowish-green and white markings. About 6in. tall, this species flowers in late April and early May. Rather earlier to flower is the showy, scarlet 15 in. tall T. eichleri, whose petals are marked with a black, yellow-margined blotch. At this time too, flowers T. praestans Fusilier, a spectacular sight when the orange-scarlet blooms are massed in a border planting on their 9 in. stems. A warm position with good drainage is needed by T. clusiana, the Lady Tulip, but this elegant species is a joy in April when its red, white and purple flowers are in the full flush of their beauty.

The other types of tulips for garden planting have now been brought to a high state of perfection with countless varieties of the greatest garden value.

The season opens with those fine bedding types, the Early Singles (12 to 15 in. tall) flowering in mid-April and the 10- to 12-in. tall Early Doubles which bloom at the end of the month. These are followed by Mendel and Triumph varieties, which are described as mid-season tulips, and, in May, by the 2 ft. tall and beautifully shaped Darwin tulips, the Parrots, with their deeply cut petals in various mixed colours, the Lily-flowered varieties, and the Cottage, Breeder, Late Doubles, Multi-flowered (Branch-flowered) and Broken kinds.

All these should be planted about 4 in. deep and 6 in. apart in the latter part of October or early November for preference. Those used for bedding purposes should be lifted and replanted in a reserve bed until the foliage has withered, when they can be lifted again and stored in a cool, airy room till replanting time comes round. The species and their hybrids are planted 3 in. deep and are not, as already pointed out, lifted annually. Propagate from offsets or seeds.

Tulipa (Tulip)

The tulips are superb flowers for the unheated greenhouse, both the garden types and the species like greigii, eichleri, kaufmanniana and clusiana. John Innes No. 1 Potting Compost suits them well and they should be potted between September and November. Plunge the pots out of doors until growth begins and then move to the greenhouse. The temperature of the house should be moderate – 16° C. (60° F.) or less – but it may rise after the flower buds have formed. Do not water after the foliage starts to wither. Dry off the bulbs and keep in a cool, dry place until the time arrives for them to be planted in the garden.

The tulips that I find most useful for greenhouse cultivation are the following, in their sections:

Early Single tulips – Mon Trésor, Sunburst, Pink Beauty, Prince of Austria, Brilliant Star, Couleur Cardinal, de Wet and Vermilion Brilliant.

Early Double tulips – Peach Blossom, Mr van der Hoef, Murillo, Orange Nassau, Vuurbaak, and Tea Rose.

Breeder tulips – Indian Chief, Bacchus, President Hoover, Orange Delight, Southern Cross and the Rainbow Mixture.

Cottage tulips – Dreaming Maid, Golden Harvest, Grenadier, Palestina and Inglescombe Yellow.

Lily-flowered tulips – Painted Lily and Yellow Marvel.

Multi-flowered tulips – Rose Mist, Claudette and Wallflower.

Parrot tulips – Fantasy, Double Fantasy, Black Parrot, White Parrot, Orange Parrot, Red Parrot, Texas Gold and Parrot Wonder.

Fringed tulips – Fringed Beauty.

Broken tulips – Black Boy and Union Jack.

01. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Bulbous Plants, Plants & Trees | Tags: , | Comments Off on Top Tips for Planting Tulip Bulbs


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