Growing Tulip Bulbs

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Garden Guides on Tulips


Tulips are the gardener’s pot of gold

Don't pick meRemember your
old “magic set” and the wonderfully colored brews you
mixed? And the surprises, and the fun?

Today you’ll find there’s greater magic in tulips and even more gorgeous and beautiful colors packed away in their sleek brown bulbs. To work
this new magic, think of the happiest flower colors and the prettiest combinations you ever yearned for Tulips require a period
of cold while they’re dormant and resting between shows. That means you must plant before freezing weather, then get your great display in the spring weeks of color if you know your tulips and plant early and late ones, and a lot of middle-between.

Where do you want tulips in April? In May? Decide that -and we can tell you what to plant. The ground should be moist when tulips are planted. Give them two to four weeks to start their roots before watering. Tulips should not have too much moisture before they have made roots; in that condition they are easy victims to rot or other infections.

Your big opportunity to surprise yourself, your family, and your neighbors with the earliest tulips in the neighborhood rests in those listed as species tulips.

Even in this group there are earlier- and later-blooming kinds. So mind the E’s, M’s (midseason), and L’s you find in most of your bulb catalogs right after the variety names. After the species tulips get well started at blooming, come the Single Earlies and Double Earlies which are much better known. Then, in a rush of colors both delicate and rich, come those classed as Darwin, Lily-flowered, Cottage, Breeder, Late Double, and Parrot. These names refer to flower forms as well as colors, and border lines between the classes are often indefinite.

Settings are important.
Where you plant your tulips, and with what, is as
important as which you plant and the quality of the
bulbs, When you are advised to buy “top size” bulbs
the term may seem vague and to need clarification. Tulip
bulbs are graded according to circumference. The largest
four of about eight sizes are offered for sale to dealers.
Allowances are made, of course, for varieties which
are normally small.

The biggest bulbs naturally
produce the largest flowers. You will find over several
years of experience with tulips that it is smartest
to invest a few cents more and buy top size bulbs, This
large, vitality-filled stock will give larger blooms
three or four years in succession.

A good succession of gay
tulip varieties and colors six weeks or more-runs like
this:

Tulips

Species tulips. These
may be put to manifold uses since they’ll thrive in
soil less well supplied with nutrition than the soil
required for Darwin and Breeder tulips. Too, they rather
like a baking during the summer. They are ideal for
planting around or among rocks or along a stone-edged
path. Keep in mind when selecting a location the height
of the kind you are planting, as they vary. Some are
as low as 6 inches and some as tall as 15. Your catalog
may list them as D for dwarf, M for medium, and T for tall. Don’t overcrowd
them when planting; a spacing of 4 inches is none too
much. The Waterlily tulips, Tulipa kaufmanniana,
are dwarfs, but the earliest of all to flower. They
look both fit and pert snuggled in the lee of a rocky
outcrop or close to low junipers or pines. The basic
color is like good Jersey cream, but the outer petals
are striped and splashed with red. The blooms open flat
in the noonday sun to the great delight of winter-weary
bees. Bright blue Siberian scillas make fine neighbors,
as do emerald mats of small Goldmoss, Sedum acre.
Or plant these bulbs where their flowers will raise
their brief inches from behind lilac-tinted moss phlox.

Fusilier, a selected variety
of T. praestans, a native of Bokhara, grows from
6 to 10 inches tall with several pointed flowers to
each stem. T. fosterlana Princeps and Red Emperor
are magnificently scarlet and truly huge. These blaze
away whether you plant them among rocks or close to
a peony clump toward the front of a mixed border.

Single Earlies.
These are the tulips most often used for formal beds.
The variety Keiserskroon stretches to 15 inches, is
a bright red edged with clear yellow. Rising Sun-a fine
golden yellow, General De Wet-soft orange with a stippled
effect, and Pink Beauty-brilliant cherry-rose with white
stripes, are some of the best. Surround with forget-me-nots
and pansies that complement them-palest yellow pansies
with De Wet, light blues with Pink Beauty and carmine-red
Prosperine.

Double Earlies. These
look like small peonies set down on short straight stems.
Mr. Van der Hoef is a bright clean yellow, Vuurbaak
and Scarlet Cai nival excellent reds, Electra, deep
rosy violet. The reds and yellows make nice masses of
color below Garland spirea. Rosy pink Peach-blossom
is never prettier than when set below Pink Double flowering
plum in a mass of blue violets.

Darwins. This class
has tall stems-24 to 32 inches, and blocky cup-shape
flowers. They bloom with lilacs, Van Houtte spirea,
and the intermediate iris.

Five outstanding Darwins
are: Gloria Swanson-an enormous crimson set off by a
blue center, Scotch Lassie-a pure, deep lavender that
charms everyone when it’s grown near a soft yellow variety-like
Niphetos-or below a Father Hugo’s Rose. Zwanenburg is
a pure white of lasting substance. The Bishop is one
of the finer dark purples, excellent as contrast for
pale pins and lavenders.

Cottage Tulips.
Those in this class are similar but usually have longer
flowers than the Darwins. Advance is the most spectacular
and looks like a great flame-red poppy. Plant it against
a green background with forget-me-not-flowered anchusas
nearby. Rosabella–a delectable pink, Marjorie Bowen-salmon,
buff, and rose-pink, and Golden Harvest-deep lemon-yellow,
are samples of this class. English Daisies and blue
bedding violas in front of them guarantee they’ll show
off at their best.

Lily-flowered tulips.
These rate high on grace and are in demand for cutting.
Captain Fryatt-reddish violet, White Duchess-a truly
all-white flower, and Yankee Girl-a delightful buffy
salmon, are three that draw extra praise. Like the Darwins
and Cottage tulips, those in the lily-flowered class
look the prettier if set among forget-me-nots or near
mats of moss phlox such as Vivid and Dixie Brilliant.

Breeders. Unusual
art shades and smoky overlays of hazy lavender and purples
mark this group. They’re excellent cut flowers to arrange
in brass and copper. Plant near purple honesty, the
golden daisylike doronicums, orange and yellow wallflowers,
or yellow and bronzy pansies. Purple-leaf Filbert and
Copper Beech make the handsomest of all backgrounds
for them. Ask for Bacchus-violet blue with a dusky bloom,
Cherbourg-a golden terra cotta, and wood brown Indian
Chief.

Late Doubles. These
have heads so heavy they often need to be staked if
rains are frequent. Eros-rosy lavender, Mount Tacoma-a
handsome white, and Uncle Tom-a blackish red, are the
boldest of the group. These are in full bloom when the
early iris start. Blue polemoniurn or pale blue bedding
violas help set off the big pompon blooms.

Parrots. These
oddest of tulips are growing in favor each spring, now
that the newer varieties have good stiff stems. With
fringed edges and bold splashes of green on their outer
petals, they do look as though made of feathers. There’s
a good color range and you can have Red Champion, Violet
Queen, the sparkling yellow Sunshine, vivid scarlet
Therese, and the salmon-pink, Fantasy. All make beautiful
cut flowers and all look the lovelier outdoors for having
a groundcover about them of dwarf blue veronicas and
Spotted Pulmonaria.

Did you know that

  • Tulips must be planted in the late fall or in early
    winter
  • You can grow tulips under deciduous trees where
    it’s too shady for bloom later
  • Plant food should be applied above the bulbs-but
    not where it can touch them-and be well watered in
  • Tulips do best in a loose, well-drained soil
  • You can increase your plantings by lifting and dividing
    original bulbs when out of bloom
  • If you water them early when buds are ris. ing,
    you’ll get larger blooms, and taller stems?

Additional bulb gardening topics to learn about:

 


Bulbs

Bulb Planting In Layers
Naturalizing Bulbs
Planting A Large Bulb In Your Lawn
Planting Bulbs In The Open
Planting Small Bulbs In Your Lawn
Planting Small Bulbs With A Garden Fork
Protecting Bulbs From Rodents
Selecting Bulbs At Your Garden Center

 

Forcing Bulbs

Forcing Bulbs In A Pot
Forcing Hyacinths
Forcing Paperwhites
Growing Amaryllis


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