Good rooting is synonymous with beautiful flowers, but for that the choice of bulbs is critical. Although tulips are grown from October to mid-December (the latest possible delay), the bulbs must be planted in a well-worked soil as early as possible (around early October) and blooming will last from February to May. Unless you opt for botanical species (wildlife), it is necessary to bring the bulbs back inside after flowering and to store them in a dry place.

Tulip is an easy-to-grow plant because it grows easily on nearly all soil types. More than 5000 species are listed worldwide but only a few names of the most widespread species will be cited. These include the fringed tulip, the double tulip and the Viridiflora tulip.  In all cases, the choice should be focused on healthy bulbs of good size that are free from injury and other parasites.

Growing tulips successfully

The tulip loves sunny places that are sheltered from the wind and it is not very demanding in terms of soil composition. Work the land, taking care to remove weeds and large stones. Add well-decomposed compost if the soil is extremely depleted. Place the bulbs in 4-inch (10 cm) deep holes, spacing them out by 4-inch (10 cm) intervals. Make sure the bulb’s base is secured on the with its pointy side facing up. If the soil is subject to permanent humidity, place the bulb on a layer of sand. Fill the hole with soil and water regularly, making sure that the earth constantly remains damp.

Once the flowering period is over, decrease the watering frequency and cut off the top of the stems to prevent the emergence of seeds. When the leaves are dry, it’s time to uproot the bulbs and store them in a cool and well-ventilated place. Indoors, prefer terracotta or plastic pots so that the roots are more comfortable. Place a layer of gravel for drainage, then cover it with a first layer of the selected substrate. Hold the bulbs (pointed part up) and then fill the pot. Water the whole and set it in a place where it will receive about 4 hours of daily sunlight.

Getting beautiful, healthy and vigorous tulips

The main disease of tulips is Tulip fire or Botrytis blight, brought about by the fungus Botrytis tulipae, and which causes the plant’s leaves and flowers to take on a greyish colour. Care is preventive and involves covering each bulb with a layer of fungicide. Otherwise, it is imperative to eliminate the contaminated bulbs and change containers. In regard to pests, beware of cockchafers and rodents that destroy the bulbs and aphids that may transmit viral diseases. The plant’s aerial parts may be attacked by slugs and snails. To treat diseases and eliminate pests, favour natural methods as much as possible. These include, for example, introducing ladybirds among your tulips, as they are natural predators of aphids.

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Published in Spring bulbs by Alexander on 30 Aug 2011