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Tulip Families and Characteristics

tulips-c.jpgSingle Early Tulips: Usually early flowering. Need to be chilled for cut flowers to get length of stem for picking.  Good upright leaves.

Single Late Tulips:  Tall elegant blooms which keep their  true tulip shape to the end.  Great for cut flowers.  Well suited to warmer climates.

Triumphs:  Medium height upstanding leaves.  Great for potting or the garden.  Good for cut flowers but need to be chilled to get good length in stems.

Darwin Hybrids: Grow to a medium height with broad leaves.  Good for potting, but should be spaced wider to allow for leaves.  Beautiful in mass planting.

Rock Tulips:   Low growing varieties often with patterned leaves.  Very effective as a border.

Double Tulips:  Medium height with large (about the size of a saucer!) flamboyant flowers that have a lovely perfume.  Spectacular in mass planting.

Fringed Tulips:  Tall striking blooms with fringed, crystal like edges.  Excellent for cut flowers.

Parrot Tulips:  These exotic and flamboyant blooms are very eye-catching. With feathered and irregular petals in a variety of heights, they make an eye-catching splash in any garden.

Lily Flowering Tulips: Distinctive pointed petals which gently arch outward.
Growing Direction

Prior to Planting: Store bulbs in a cool airy place. Refrigerating bulbs is a technique you can use to persuade your bulbs to flower earlier. To successfully chill your tulips only use large flowering size bulbs, (10cm circumference and larger) and place them in an open paper bag or mesh bag in the vegetable draw of the fridge. Do no store with fruit or flowers as their gases will effect you tulip flowers. Chill for 6-8 weeks before planting. If you live in a warm climatic area it will be essential to chill your bulbs, however, in cooler areas with cold, frosty winter nights, nature will complete the process for you. Experiment and see what the response is in your environment. Plant immediately after removing from the fridge. Do not freeze the bulbs!

Planting Time: Autumn. Avoid planting until the occasional hot spells have finished and the soil has cooled down. We often plant mid May to end June.

Height: Chilling you bulbs will give you longer stems if you plant unchilled although the flowers will be the same the stem length will be shorter dependig on how cold your winter is. The warmer the climate, the shorter the height of each variety.  As a general rule unchilled bulbs will grow to approximately half the height listed.  As an example a Single Late Tulip will grow to approximately 60-70cm high unchilled it will grow to about 30-35cm.

Depth & Spacing: Plant bulbs pointy end up, 12-15 cm deep and 10-15 cm apart. In pots plant tulips just below the surface with flat side of bulbs facing the edge of the pot. This will have the leaves growing gracefully with a balanced look to the pot.

Aspect: In cool climates full sun to very light shade. In warmer climates tulips like a cool partly shaded spot. If growing in pots, place in full shade or a cool spot until tulips are approx 10 cm high.

Soil: Tulips enjoy well drained soil with a pH above 6. Wetter soils can benefit from being moulded into raised beds and the pH can be adjusted by the addition of lime or dolomite.

Watering: Tulips like to be kept moist. It is ideal to keep bulbs relativity dry whilst dormant.

Fertilizer: Incorporate a complete fertiliser and Blood & Bone into the soil before planting. Top dress with Sulphate of Potash after flowering while leaves are still green. During this time bulbs store their energy for next years flowering.

Flowering Time: Late winter to Spring.

After flowering Care: Cut off spent flower heads and top dress with Blood and Bone. Keep watered until foliage turns yellow then stop watering. When foliage has dried off loosen soil and lift bulbs. Allow bulbs to dry off (don't leave in direct sunlight) shake off dirt and remove old bulb material and store in mesh bag in a cool dry place. Alternatively you may choose to leave your bulbs in the ground. You can do this if you have free draining soil and cold winters to chill your bulbs. We have left some of ours in for up to three years and they have flowered beautifully each year. After three years they will become too crowded and the flowers will be smaller, so you will need to lift them and divide up for replanting.

Storage: Store bulbs in a mesh bag in a cool, airy dry place with temperatures of approximately 25C (inside at floor level). Protect bulbs during this time from insect attack by dusting with insecticide powder prior to storage.

Trouble Shooting: Drying leaves and flower buds:  This is often caused by Botrytis, spray with a fungal spray designed for ornamental plants (ask your local nursery).

Botrytis: appears as spots on leaves or flowers, treat with a Fungal Spray.

Foliage but no flowers:  This is usually a result of bulbs becoming too hot (which cooks the flower bud).  This can happen during storage or after planting. This is not the end of your bulbs, they will go through their growing cycle and set flowers for next year, so don’t give up on them!