Tulip Growing Tips and Advice
It is difficult to think of a spring garden without visualizing the colorful dancing heads of the tulip. May would be as dull without tulips as October would be without chrysanthemums. With their wide range of color, form and size, the tulip challenges the gardener to use his ingenuity in creating new designs and effects in his own garden arrangement.
It is very important to have top-quality bulbs for best results. Tulips tend to “run out” but you can have satisfying results for quite a few years by fertilizing the plantings each season and by setting bulbs every 2-3 years. October or November is the ideal time for planting tulip beds, but, generally speaking, any time before the ground freezes hard will do.
Work the ground well to a depth of a foot before planting. If your soil is heavy or quite sandy, be sure to work in generous amounts of compost, well-rotted manure, and some peat moss. Bonemeal and wood ashes are good plant foods to use in addition. Use about 2 cupfuls of each for about every 2 dozen bulbs.
The actual depth of planting depends a great deal on soil conditions. Generally 4-5 inches from the top of the bulb is the advised planting depth. In lighter soils it may be desirable to plant a couple of inches deeper. Deep planting makes it possible to grow annuals directing over the tulip without danger of injuring them. Plant the flattened base of the bulb down, with the tip pointing up. After planting, water thoroughly to settle the soil around and above the bulbs.
In most areas tulip plantings do not need to be mulched, but, where winters are severe, mulch after the first frost. The mulch may be straw, grass clippings, leaves or pine boughs. Remove the cover early in the spring.
If flowers are not cut for indoor decoration, be sure to cut them as soon as they fade. Formation of seed pods takes food that otherwise will go to the bulb for flower growth the following year. However, if you are interested in dried arrangements, dried tulip pods make interesting specimens. Do not cut the foliage off until they have dried up. You may then leave the bulbs in the ground or lift them. If you dig them, place them in a dark, cool spot to dry. When dry, clean off the dirt, remove roots and store in a dry, ventilated place.
Tips for growing vegetables:
Tips for growing herbs:
Tips for growing flowers:
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