Tulips are beautiful, tulips are versatile, and many gardeners would like to have such flowers in their garden. Tulips can be planted almost anywhere, and they are easy to care for if you invite the right variety into your garden. Find out more about planting and caring for the varied graces below.

How did the tulip become so famous?

Tulips (Tulipa) are a separate genus of plants that belong to the lily family. Tulips originally evolved in around 150 species in Central and Central Asia and North Africa. Most species have made the southeastern Mediterranean their homeland, from Turkey east through Iraq and Iran to Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. And north to Azerbaijan and the lowlands of the Caucasus.

The name also goes back to this homeland, from the Asian word for cotton and the Turkish or Persian term for turban came the Tulipa, which was reminiscent of the colorful turbans of the rich Ottomans. This is where the tulips were first cultivated, for centuries. Even the wild form of our garden tulip, the Tulipa gesneriana, is most likely a breeding from several wild species.

The botanist Charles de l’Écluse, who loved to travel, brought the tulip to Europe at the end of the 16th century, first to Vienna and then to Leiden in the Netherlands. At that time, both places became lucrative centers of floriculture simply because of these flowers.

In the growing metropolis of Vienna, the space was soon needed for magnificent baroque buildings and their inhabitants. The surrounding Lower Austria needed space for agriculture to feed the Viennese. But around Leiden, in the Dutch province of South Holland (which is quite west on the coast), there was plenty of room. This is where the “Dutch tulip” came into being: the garden wild tulips became garden garden tulips. In the more than 400 years that have passed since then, there have been many cultivated forms of garden tulips. In between, the cult of the tulip was even greatly exaggerated.

Tulips and the Telekom share

In Holland, around 1590, tulips had been welcomed with open arms. Tulips were something completely new, exotic and exclusive. Because of them, floriculture became a big fashion and a hobby for many gardeners, whose gardens slowly grew beyond the city walls. More and more flower lovers specialized in growing tulips and collecting rare specimens. The painter princes of that time painted still lifes with tulips, not only these tulip pictures, but also tulip bulbs were exhibited in art cabinets next to works of art.

Of course, in this hype, the tulips quickly became a coveted commodity. This commodity became a truly precious commodity as it grew in value. Theft of tulip bulbs was a completely everyday crime. Commercial trade took on wilder and wilder forms. Tulip bulbs or warrants for them were traded at ever higher prices, like Telekom shares on the stock exchange at the turn of the millennium.

It was also the tulips that stand for the first historical collapse of a stock exchange, on February 7, 1637. The “tulip mania” had already degenerated to such an extent that many investors had the prospect of further price increases bought tulip bulbs or warrants at completely inflated prices. Until at the annual auction in Alkmaar in 1637 the buyers simply stayed away. The prices fell by 95 percent in one fell swoop – somehow also reminiscent of the Telekom share, which was supposed to be worth €103.50 in March 2000 and is still trading at €24.80 in February 2001. Back then, people made fun of the uncritical purchase of insubstantial paper. Even then, the mockers reported before the big crash. As early as 1614, a polemical collection appeared in Amsterdam, which stated: “A fool and his money are hastily parted”.

Tulip varieties and thousands of hybrids

Tulips have long been a favorite of growers. They never stopped letting their imaginations run wild. It is believed that there are around 5,000 varieties of tulips today. Low and tall, with single and double flowers, with smooth and fringed and with wavy edges, and in all colors imaginable, monochromatic or combined in one flower.

Breeders really don’t shy away from any color. Tulip shapes are now divided into a number of ‘classes’:

  • Single Early Tulips and Single Late Tulips
  • Triumph Tulips
  • Lily-flowered Tulips
  • Botanical Tulips
  • Darwin hybrids
  • Wild tulips

Then there are numerous special forms:

  • Patterned parrot tulips
  • Viridiflora Tulips with Green Stripes
  • Tulips with double flowers
  • Crispa Tulips with fringes on the edges of the petals

The popular flower is available in the most diverse flower shapes, flower sizes and flower colors that have ever been wrested from a wild form. Today, it is no longer possible to differentiate based solely on appearance. Tulips are classified and graded according to their leaf-to-stem ratio, the length of time they bloom, and the health of their bulbs.

Despite the stock market crash of 1637, the Dutch have remained the largest tulip producers to this day. But tulips are also produced in Germany, especially on the Lower Rhine. The district of Neuss is known for its tulip cultivation.

Disadvantages of Hybrids

These 5,000 different types of tulips are cultivated forms. Some wonderfully combined new inventions that were tested for changes in resilience for a long time until persistent and frugal variants emerged. Some varieties that were created with a view to quick success, are sensitive and ailing, or are so highly bred that they don’t last more than one season.

Breeding is carried out by crossing the flower bulbs. The first representatives of new varieties are grown separately in the greenhouse so that they are not accidentally pollinated with another variety – which happens all the time in nature and leads to resistant plants through the introduction of more and more new genes. That is prevented here. The newly developed flower bulbs stay in the greenhouse for three years. Only then are they resettled outdoors, also separated, and continue to develop there for another five years until the first flowers of the new variety appear. Around 15 years later, the new variety is allowed to go on sale.

In many of these hybrids, the main bulb dies after about three years. The daughter bulbs remain weaker, showing only poor tulip flowers with small petals. Therefore, for many hybrid varieties, it is recommended to renew them after three years. Above all, early and late flowering varieties and the parrot tulips are known for not having a lot of staying power and usually do not bring joy for very long.

The Darwin tulips are known as robust and long-lived tulip varieties for the garden. With good care and a pleasant location, they bloom for several years. Recommended varieties should be “Parade” and “Spring Song”. The lily-flowered tulip varieties can also endure for a long time, sometimes blooming for more than five years in a row. Their delicate and filigree flowers usually prove to be very robust. Well-known varieties are “Ballade” and “White Triumphator”. The third recommended garden variety is the Viridiflora tulip, with varieties such as Formosa and Spring Green. They have a green stripe down the center of the petals, a real eye-catcher.

Natural Tulips

The original tulip species grow perennial and reach a height of 10 cm to an impressive 70 cm, depending on the species. They reproduce through their bulbs, which can sometimes also form stolons. This is a type of offshoot that, once separated, can continue to exist on its own.

You can let robust and naturally raised species run wild. You simply leave the bulbs in the ground, where they will continue to multiply for many years to come. However, this only works with some wild tulip varieties, with the fosteriana tulips (Tulipa fosteriana) and with the wild vineyard tulips (Tulipa sylvestris). In addition, this experiment requires an ideal location, rich in nutrients and quite dry in summer. You can buy such tulips e.g. B. put it wonderfully in the middle of a meadow, where with a little luck you will see new flowers for the next few years.

You can either plant the tulips for next year in autumn by planting flower bulbs in the ground. Or you can buy tulips in the spring that have been pushed forward and put them in the garden.

plant tulips

You can plant tulips almost anywhere in your garden, because they always get along well with our soil and our light conditions.

If you have choice, choose the most permeable soil for the tulips. You can also simply mix a little sand under soil that is a little too firm, so that the onions don’t get too wet and start to rot.

A lot of sun is very good for the tulips and can intensify the color of the tulip blossoms a little. In addition, the flower bulbs ripen well in such locations.

The care

Tulips like a lot of moisture in spring. In summer, on the other hand, they prefer heat and drought. For the onions to produce plenty of daughters, it needs a few cool nights and a fairly cold winter.

Also when watering you should not put the tulips under water, so that the bulbs do not rot.

From spring (when the first green appears) the tulips want to be supplied with complete fertilizer regularly until the last flower has faded.

Post-flowering care

When the tulips have finished flowering in the spring, they like to be pampered. If you cut back the tulips now, you will help them use the remaining energy to form new bulbs. New tulips can grow from this.

So you should cut away the infructescence and withered petals immediately after flowering, but only those. The tulip stalk with the leaves should remain. The tulips draw nutrients from them into the bulbs until the leaves are completely yellow and finally dry. Then it is clear: Nothing grows here anymore except for the onions in the ground. The foliage is now obsolete and can be removed.

If you find the view of the slowly wilting foliage too sad, you can largely avoid it:

  • When planting onions, be careful to combine low early varieties with higher late varieties
  • the remaining foliage is covered
  • Place tulips between perennials that bloom in the fall to hide unsightly wilting
  • Dig up tulips after flowering and “park” them in pots until the foliage is removed and the tulips can be returned to the bed

Even if you will no longer trigger a stock market run with tulips today, the decorative and vigorous flowering plants still make the garden more beautiful. Today, of course, the wild forms are particularly popular, which are distributed over the garden with casual charm.

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