How to grow Tulips
Tulips come in a vast range of colour, shapes and flowering periods. October and November is the time to plant Tulips for a spring display. If you are planting tulips to flower together to create a certain colour scheme, or look, such as a pale pink bulbs with dark purple, or pink with forget me nots, the important point to check is flowering time. We think of Tulips as spring flowering, and they are, but its a long period from early March until May so if you are combining colours you need to pick varieties which flower at the same time.
In addition to colour range, there are also a lot of different types of Tulips. There are single flowering, doubles, dwarf and parrot. Tulips also vary in height from 15-30cms. Tulips are versatile and can be grown in containers, beds or in large drifts. Generally Tulips are not fussy about soil conditions with the exception that they do not grow well in wet soils.Tulip are also divided into early, mid season and late flowering Tulips.
A drawback of Tulips is that they most types usually need to be treated as annuals and planted every year. If you garden on a dry, light alkaline soil you have much better prospects that the Tulips will re appear in following years. In addition if you plant those varieties known as 'Darwin hybrids' are more likely to return each year. The bulbs may be not as large and the stems of the plants shorter, but there will be Tulips. Unfortunately, if you garden on a wet acid soil you are best to consider Tulips more as annuals. Wet and acid soils also suggest later planting of Tulips definitely November, even December. It is also prudent to wait for a spell when it is at least reasonably dry so the Tulips do not start off in soggy conditions. Tulips make a great show as the images illustrate but they do require, in many areas, the time, trouble and expense of replanting each year. It is possible to try and get them to reflower but it's not always successful. With good soil conditions, fine and alkaline, they may come back in other conditions to get Tulips to reflower it is necessary to lift and dry the bulbs about 6 weeks they have finished flowering. Clean off and dry thoroughly and store in dark until ready for planting in the Autumn.
There are a lot of different types of tulips, up to 15 varieties and then dozens of shapes and colours within each varieties. For a good display look for varieties that flower together and plant on mass so there is a really good showing. The Pinterest pages have some really good ideas and colours.
When to plant Tulips
Tulips are planted later than other spring bulbs and the best time is October and November. Tulips need to be planted deep rather than shallow, and at least three times the depth of the bulb. Planting bulbs too shallow is the main cause of lack of flowering in the spring.
Tulips and all bulbs are easiest to plant using a long handled bulb planted, see left. If the ground is hard you can stand on it to dig in, and it's much easier than using a trowel or a short handled type. When the soil is wet and heavy, especially in the winter, its hard to get the soil out of the bulb planter. Don't try, dig the next hole and it will push the soil plug out the top and pick that up to fill in the previous hole.
Dig hole 3 times size of bulb, planted pointed end up and refill with soil plug.