Tulips are blooming everywhere, from Buckingham Palace to the tulip fields in Holland to Philadelphia. In fact, it’s been reported that there were 28,000 red tulip bulbs planted at Buckingham Palace in October 2010 that were planned to bloom right now, in time for the Royal Wedding; but because the hot weather wilted them, they were cut down. The stalks from the beheaded red blooms could cause embarrassment to the public image of the Palace this Friday.(1)
But here back home, right now, all over the Philadelphia and Northeast region, nature’s colorful introduction to spring has begun; and for the next four weeks, colorful tulips will be blooming. It’s time to tiptoe through the tulips. Although it’s a little early, nowadays, you’ll see tulips blooming at the same time as daffodils and hyacinths because there are early-blooming tulips, as well as, late blooming varieties of tulips. Check out the slideshow of 50 tulips blooming in our area, and just in time for the Mother’s Day and right through May.
Tulips are similar to hyacinth and daffodils in many ways; they have the same basic needs, and require the same basic care, indoors and out. They are all perennial bulbs, they make excellent cut flowers, their fragrance is heavenly, they will multiply in the garden over time, and each will last for many years, provided a garden critter doesn’t get to them first, namely the tulips. Deer and rabbits love tulips, so try to purchase the deer-resistant tulip bulbs. They’re all beautiful; just remember to always select healthy bulbs when purchasing.
Tulip bulbs first originated in Turkey and the Middle East, where they are called lale; but today, growers cultivate tulips in Holland. The history of tulips is amazing; at one time a single tulip was worth millions of dollars in Europe. There are 109 species of tulips, and they belong to the Liliaceae family. Tulips come in every color you can think of, including blue tulips, green tulips, black tulips, two-tone colored tulips, tri-colored tulips, lily-flower tulips, fringe tulips, parrot tulips, as well as, new and unique varieties. Believe it or not, the parrot (feathered) variety, as well as, the original variegated tulips were formed in error from an infection with Tulip breaking potyvirus, a virus carried by green peach aphids that mistakenly produced distorted and variegated versions of the tulip.(2)
To enjoy these beauties in the garden, you had to plant them in the fall; but you’re in luck, because bulb growers did the work for you last fall 2010 for the upcoming Mother’s Day celebrations. You can now find tulips already blooming in pots for gift-giving and indoor spring decorating. If you received a pot of blooming bulbs, you can plant them directly into the garden after they’re done blooming inside; and you can leave them there all year because they’re all hardy in Philadelphia’s Zone 6.
Tulips are easy to plant. It’s better to plant them in odd groups of 5 or more for a good showing. You can plant them in mixed or solid colors; but try to plant them in groups; staggering them makes a great show. Tulips do like sun but they can grow in part shade, especially because the foliage on the trees has not yet formed so the sun shines through the trees. The planting depth of tulips varies, but the depth really depends on the size of the bulb. There are so many varieties and sizes to choose from that you must check the package for planting specific planting depths. The basic rule is to dig a hole three times as deep as the height of the bulb. For example, if your bulb is 2 inches tall, dig a hole 6 inches deep. The best time to fertilize tulips is in the fall. When planting, set the bulb roots or the flat side of the bulb down, and the pointy side up. Water the bulbs thoroughly after planting, then mulch with bark, pine needles, or leaves and enjoy next spring 2012.
Don’t forget to stop and smell the tulips sometimes!
For more photographs of tulips, Click below:
Unbelievable Tulip fields in Holland
Tulips Slideshow: The Thrill of the Bloom
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