Is there anything more glorious than seeing a beautiful bouquet of brightly hued tulips growing in your spring garden? When you first notice those colourful blooms pop up, it signals the start of the season and the end to those cold grey days. It is truly a wonderful feeling.
The original species of tulips have a limited color range of mostly reds and yellows. Today, with the newer cultivars and hybrids, you will find them in a wide palette of colours from strong bright colors to pastel shades.
Choosing a Tulip Bulb
When looking for tulip bulbs, you want to make sure they are plump and firm to the touch. Avoid any bulbs that are squishy, moldy or whose papery cover is missing. Nature has made it easy for tulips to grow. Inside the bulb is an embryo flower just waiting to begin growing.
At Glen Echo Nurseries, our bulbs usually begin to arrive in September, but wait to plant them until mid-autumn. If you buy them early, they are best stored in a paper bag and not plastic to keep them dry. They are best kept in a cool place as well like a cold cellar or garage.
Planting tulips really couldn’t be easier. Look for a sunny place – tulips will not grow well in the shade or in wet soil as they will rot. For best results, you will want to do a little soil preparation. Loosen the soil about a foot deep and add some compost or dried manure. Also, fertilizer will help the bulbs to grow. We suggest a granular fertilizer such as 5-10-5 or 5-10-10. Mix the loosened soil with the compost and fertilizer until well blended. Of course, we strongly recommend Acti-Sol Hen manure. Squirrels hate it!
Now you are ready to plant your bulbs. The rule of thumb is to dig each hole three times as deep as the tulip bulb is tall. Bulbs look best when planted in groupings. The biggest mistake a lot of new gardeners make is to plant them upside down. They will probably still grow, but it will take longer to come through the ground in spring and may be short. Set the bulb so the pointy end is facing up. Don’t worry if you get some upside down.
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.