How to Plant Tulip Bulbs That Will Thrive
Tulips are perennial bulbs that grow best in USDA zones 3 to 8. If planted in warmer climates, it is best to dig the bulb up when warmer weather arrives and store the bulb for six to eight weeks in a cool, dry place. Then, before the fall freeze, one should replant the bulbs. If you plant tulip bulbs right, you will enjoy them each spring for many years to come. Planting tulip bulbs is easy, just follow the directions below.
Selecting the Right Variety
Select tulip bulbs by varieties and types by flower, color, form, local adaptation, and bloom time. Buy high-quality tulip bulbs, free of bruises or soft spots. Good sources to buy tulip bulbs include: local nurseries, websites, and mail-order catalogs that have a good reference.
Arranging Bulb Delivery and Storage
If you're making arrangements to have your tulip bulbs delivered, do so in a manner so that you have them about six weeks prior to planting season. Plant the tulip bulbs in late summer to early fall in cold-winter climates. Plant in late fall to early winter in mild-winter climates.
Keep the tulip bulbs chilled after they arrive, though some come pre-chilled. This can be done by placing them in a paper bag and keeping them in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks. This coolness will help ensure that the bulbs will trigger and give top performance.
Choosing the Planting Bed and Preparing the Soil
When planting your tulip bulbs, select a sunny location. Prepare the soil, if necessary, by incorporating ample organic matter. (Soil preparation is not always necessary if drainage is good.)
Tulips can grow in most types of soil, although they prefer sandy soil rich in organic materials. Tulips do poorly in clay soil. If your soil is clay, add some organic materials, as well as a bit of sand. This will improve the texture of the soil.
Tulips strive in fast-draining soil that dries quickly. They do poorly in wet soil, as it can cause the bulb to rot.
Digging the Hole to Plant the Tulip
Dig holes 2 1/2 to 3 times as deep as the bulb is wide, usually about 4 to 6 inches deep. In mild-winter climates, plant deeper—up to 8 to 12 inches deep. Leave 4 to 6 inches between each tulip bulb.
Add tulip bulb fertilizer to the bottom of the hole (about 1 inch) and thoroughly mix it into the soil.
Planting the Tulip Bulbs
Place the tulip bulbs in the hole. Make sure they are pointed root-side down. The bottom of the bulb should rest firmly on the bottom of the hole. Cover with soil and pat it down lightly.
Soil temperatures in the winter can fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This works to keeps the tulip bulbs in a hibernation state for the winter months.
It is good practice to add mulch to the bulb bed with good organic material. This works to protect the soil from extremely cold temperatures. I recommend mulch to be 2 to 3 inches thick to effectively keep the soil the proper temperature.
Water the tulip bulbs thoroughly.
Where Did the Tulip Get Its Name?
How did the tulip get its name? The story is that the tulip bore a great resemblance to the turban headgear worn by many people in the Middle East, which was also pronounced and spelled as "toliban." Changed into Latin, this word becomes "tulipa."
In history, the Dutch will be remembered for their passion and production of tulips. After 400-plus years, the Dutch people still cultivate a love affair with the tulip. First introduced to Holland in 1593, the tulip has become a lasting symbol for the country. Ask anyone, anywhere, to name things that remind one of the Dutch or Holland, and they are likely to respond with the answer: "windmills, wooden shoes, and tulips."
Is Holland Really the Country That Tulips Originated From?
It's a widely spread misconception that tulips and other bulb flowers are native to Holland. The fact is that almost no bulbous plants are native to the country. To find the true origin origins of the tulip, we must look to central Asia, which is the prime site of their genetic center.
The tulip originated from Tien-Shan and the Pamir Alai Mountain Ranges near modern-day Islamabad, close to the border of Russia and China. From these prime growing areas, tulips spread to other regions, including China and Mongolia to the east and to other regions to the west and northwest.
Furthermore, tulips love mountainous regions. They are found growing at very high elevations in the mountains, which means that they are often covered with a thick layer of snow during the winter period. This protects them from the severe cold. Given this natural proclivity for high places, it's all the more remarkable that the Dutch should become known for growing tulips when their country is largely situated below sea-level and "enjoys" winters that are more wet than they are cold. As a rule, these are conditions that make for poor tulip growth. Holland tulip growers invented systems that provide winter soil ample drainage. Through draining the surplus water quickly from the fields into the ditches into the canals, the Dutch system provided great conditions for growing tulips.
© 2007 Sharlee