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16 October 2014
Gardener's Corner

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Winter 2009
John Cushnie On...

Tulip Time
10 November 2009

If you want to tiptoe through the tulips next spring then now is the ideal time to plant some bulbs.

Unlike other spring flowering bulbs that are planted in September and early October the tulip is best planted in early winter. A late planting reduces the risk of the deadly fungal disease fire blight destroying the bulb.

Window boxThere are lots of species and varieties to choose from. Early flowering, low growing species are ideal for patio containers, hanging baskets and window boxes. They can be planted in small pockets in the rockery or scattered through the lawn for naturalizing.

In good quality loamy soil the long stemmed tulip varieties such as Darwin hybrids and the Appledorn series may be planted up to 20-25 cm deep. They will flower year after year without the bulbs needing to be lifted, dried and then stored over winter.

Tulipa Uncle TomFor variety of flower colour and shape tulips are hard to beat. From white to near black there are some with scent while others are fully double. There are a few with variegated foliage while some species have multiple heads of flower on a single stem.

You can choose from pointed, frilled or rounded petals.
My favourite planting method is to use a large container at least 45 cm deep and as wide at the rim. I plant the bulbs at a 7 cm spacing  in layers with 10 cm of bulb compost between the layers. They all come to the surface and by using different varieties there is a selection of colours over a 4-5 week period.

Take care when buying the bulbs. Give them a squeeze to make sure they are firm. Discard any that are soft or damaged.

See also:
Bulbs For Meadows

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