Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fall Tulip Bulbs - Tips and Tricks

This picture is proof positive I've been a lover of flowers since the dawn of the new age (my new age, that is.) I took it a lifetime ago, while I was wandering aimlessly around Ireland, wondering why my husband was leaving me, of all people.

Cool, crisp autumn days have me in the mood to plant some Tulips. This most cheerful reminder of Spring can be timed for a long, blooming show if you plant a combination of early, mid-spring and late-blooming varieties.

The larger the bulb, the larger the flower.
But, look at these photos. I don't have $1,000 to invest in bulbs and the big ones are quite expensive. I'm opting for the cheaper Target varieties to save money. It's true the tulip flowers will be smaller, but a large drift of color is easily affordable.

  • Place in the ground pointed end up.
  • Planting bulbs deeper in the ground helps them stand tall with no drooping.
  • Tulip bulbs have an onion-like, papery skin that is almost always damaged. No worries. The broken 'skin' actually promotes faster rooting, when planted.
  • Place bulbs between groups of later-blooming perennials (such as poppies, iris, and catmint.) As perennials grow tall, they will camouflage dying tulip leaves.
  • Give bulbs a nutrient boost with low nitrogen fertilizer (screened cow manure is great and very inexpensive.)
  • After flowering, remove faded blooms so plants put energy into strengthening the bulb, not producing seeds.
  • Leave foliage in place - that helps bulbs send energy/food to roots for stronger flowering next spring.
Ever wonder why they do so poorly as cut flowers?
Tulips need sunlight to bloom and root energy, too. On average, cut tulips will only survive about 3-4 days. Cut 'em at bud stage to extend their life in the vase.

* Visit Powerscourt Gardens to see where I fell in love with tulips. (Top photo)
** If your husband is leaving you - do what I did! Go here!

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