Tulips are very hardy and easy to care for. In addition to the 150 species, there are numerous hybrids that are grown in gardens and public spaces. The differently colored flowers can be single or double, bell- to cup-shaped, and spotted or striped, with the stripes or spots of some species being due to the so-called tulip mosaic virus. Depending on the species, the flowers appear between March and May. In this guide you will find out when you should plant tulip bulbs so that they bloom on time.
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Plant or stick tulip bulbs
Tulip bulbs form daughter or brood bulbs. These only produce leaves and no flowers in the first two years after planting. Tulip bulbs are planted during their dormant phase from September to November. The ground should be frost-free with temperatures of 10 to 12 degrees, so the onions will still form enough roots before winter.
Tulip bulbs should be planted about 2-3 times as deep in the soil as the bulb is tall, depending on the size of the bulb, about 10-15 cm deep. At best, tulips are planted in smaller groups of 5 and 10. It is important that the bulbs are placed in the ground with the tip up and the root down. Then the whole thing is lightly poured.
Since the tulip bulbs are also very popular with voles, it is advisable to plant them in the ground in a close-meshed wire basket or wire mesh, for example made of rabbit wire. To protect against voles, you can also plant the tulips near imperial crowns or vice versa.
location and soil
The location for tulips should be as sunny to half-shady as possible, slightly humus, protected and warm and not have too dense vegetation, so that the tulips are relatively free. If tulips stand in one and the same location for several years, this affects the flowering, so to speak, it becomes tulip-tired. Accordingly, it is advisable to plant them in a new location about every three years.
Above all, the soil should be permeable so that the plants are not so wet. Heavier soils can be made more permeable by mixing in sand. Tulips don’t like rainy summers at all. In such cases it is advisable to get the bulbs out of the ground and keep them in a peat-sand mixture in a warm and dry room until they can be planted outside again in September.
watering and fertilizing
- Water tulips in the vegetation phase and when they are in bloom, and only moderately
- Too much moisture would quickly cause the tulip bulbs to rot.
- You can fertilize the tulips during leaf sprouting and immediately after flowering.
- Horn shavings, compost or other organic fertilizers are suitable.
- If necessary, also special flower bulb fertilizer.
- This helps the plants to build up reserves for the winter and the next flowering.
- Fertilizers with too high a nitrogen content are unsuitable.
How the tulip reproduces itself
The tulip bulb pulls in its leaves after flowering, ie the bulb draws the cell sap from the still green leaves, which it then stores in the bulb. The mother bulb divides and new daughter or brood bulbs develop.
In addition to vegetative, asexual reproduction via daughter bulbs, tulips also reproduce generatively, i.e. via seeds. As soon as they are ripe, they fall to the ground, where they overwinter and germinate the following year. The seedling that has developed from this then forms a small bulb that overwinters there. This is then repeated until the bulb is large enough to produce a flowering plant.
Propagation via daughter onions/brood
onions For successful reproduction, the daughter onions must have a certain minimum size in order to be able to flower. In early autumn, the daughter bulbs are dug up and separated from each other. Before the first ground frosts, the bulbs can then be planted in place, where they will keep dividing over the years.
Propagation by seed
Propagation of tulips by seed is much more time-consuming than by daughter bulbs. In addition, pure offspring are not guaranteed. If you want to use seeds from your own harvest, leave the withered flowers on the plant until a thick bud has formed that contains the seeds.
These can then be distributed in the garden in the fall and covered lightly with soil. But you can also start by growing them in an appropriate seed container on the windowsill and then transplant the small plants into the garden on frost-free days. Tulips grown from seed usually flower for the first time after about 6 years.
Prune tulips after flowering
- do not cut off immediately after flowering
- Remove foliage only when completely withered
- important because tulip bulbs draw nutrients from the green leaves
- need these for hibernation and flowering next year
Tulips can usually overwinter in the garden without any problems. However, to protect them from particularly severe frosts, it is advisable to pile them up with earth or at least cover them with fir brushwood. If you want to be absolutely sure, you can dig up the bulbs as soon as the leaves have completely faded and overwinter them in a cool and dry room. During storage, the onions should be protected from moisture.
Tulip bulbs in flower boxes should also overwinter in a frost-free, cool and dark place, for example in a cellar, after the withered flowers and leaves have been cut off.
diseases and pests
- Tulip fire ( Botrytis tulipae ) – The so-called tulip fire is the gray mold pathogen . This affects the entire plant and causes it to rot. In order to combat it effectively, you have to get all the affected bulbs out of the ground and dispose of them. The onions can then no longer be saved, since the pathogen survives in the onion. The soil around the bulbs should then be generously removed and renewed. As a preventative measure, you can make sure that the tulips are not too wet and that the vegetation around the tulips is not too dense, so that air can circulate between them. In addition, you should not use fertilizers that have a high nitrogen content, but rather a special flower bulb fertilizer.
- Augusta disease – Augusta disease is one of several viral diseases that can affect tulips. It can be recognized by light spots on the leaves, which are dead tissue. If the infestation is particularly severe, the entire plant is usually stunted. Susceptibility varies from variety to variety. The varieties Angelique, Prominence and Apricot Beauty are particularly susceptible. The affected bulbs must be pulled out of the ground and disposed of. Here, too, the potting soil should be renewed, as the virus can also survive on other plants or weeds. To prevent this virus, it can help to wait until the outside temperature has fallen below 9 degrees to plant the tulips.
- Onion blight – Onion blight is transmitted by a soil fungus, Fusarium oxysporum. It can usually be recognized by the fact that the flowers of the tulips are stunted or the plant no longer blooms at all. Then, just like with the tulip fire, you should get the bulbs out of the ground and renew the soil around the tulip bulbs.
- Voles – Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, tulips are also very popular with voles. Tulips simply disappear or sometimes come back in completely different places. In order to protect the bulbs from these rodents, it is advisable to plant them in a close-meshed wire mesh in the ground so that the rodents cannot get to the bulbs.
Particularly beautiful varieties
- Triumph Tulip ‘Fontainebleau’ – This variety is a cross between the single early tulip and the Darwin tulip. The flowers of this impressive strain are purple-brown with a white border. It reaches heights of growth of about 50 cm.
- Viridiflora Tulip ‘Artist’ – This green flamed species impresses above all with its changeable colour. It is initially terracotta and green. The green remains and the terracotta color later changes to a soft pink. Flowering time for this variety, which grows to about 30 cm, is in May.
- Double Late Tulip ‘Black Hero’ – The bluish-black lush double flowers of this variety appear in May and are reminiscent of peonies. These tulips grow to about 60 cm in height.
- Parrot Tulip ‘Estella Rijnveld’ – This beautiful variety produces red, white flamed flowers in May. The wavy petals are ivory white with a generous strawberry marking. It reaches heights of about 45 cm.
- Triumph Tulip ‘Gavota’ – This Triumph Tulip is a relatively new variety. The three-colored flowers are reddish brown to dark purple on the outside with a white and yellow edge on the very outside. It grows between 40 and 45 cm high and flowers as early as April.
- Lily-flowered Tulip ‘White Triumphator’ – This classic with its pure white, slender flowers is an eye-catcher in every garden. It flowers between April and May and is about 60 cm high.
Tulips are among the most popular spring bloomers with their numerous colorful and varied species and embellish beds, borders, flower boxes and graves alike in larger groups. They are relatively easy to care for and, with proper care and planting, are largely spared from diseases and pests. It is particularly important to protect them or the onion from too much moisture, as this promotes rot and virus infection.