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Tulip questions

Well I notice that everyone is talking about how unsually warm things have been this winter. I'm very glad of it actually. I'm down in zone 9 and several trees are already getting new green leaves. I was surprised to find Tulips and Hyacinths at some garden centers. I thought it was rather early, but I'm glad to see everything coming up. I have a feeling spring will come early and I'm probably gonna get a jump on my garden in another week since I just got my first seed order in.

I just love tulips. They are bulbs aren't they? Do I have to buy them as bulbs or can I just buy the ones I saw already blooming at the store? That's what I'm contemplating doing. Also I read some of you saying that you have to bring the bulbs in when it's winter unless you're in a warmer area. Would it be ok to leave them out all year? Also why do they come in bulbs? Don't things like tulips make seeds? Yes this is all new to me. Please let me know.

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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
phylsfrills
Feb. 9th, 2006 01:51 am (UTC)
Tulips are bulbs. They are propagated as bulbs. They are originally from Holland. Did you know that during the second world war, the Dutch lived on the tulip bulbs as there wasn't much else to eat?
On the lighter side, I live in zone 2-3 and I plant my tulip bulbs in the fall so they will bloom in early spring. As long as you plant them 6 inches deep they should be fine. You are in a much warmer climate so you shouldn't have to worry. Tulips will only bloom once and then rest. When planting, don't forget to mix some bone meal in the bottom of the pot or in the soil in the hole you are planting them in. They are more effective if planted in groupings of 7 to 9 as well. The Ontario Horticultural Association (Ontario, Canada) is marking their 100th anniversary with a special tulip. It has been grown special for the society and stands about 18 inches high and is a beautiful purple colour. I ordered six bags of 8, three bags for my daughter(minxybaby), it's her favorite colour, and three for me. I hope to post pictures this spring when they bloom.
Some people force bulbs, meaning they plant them in pots indoors in a good, rich soil and water them and they sprout earlier than if they were outdoors. You can buy tulips cut for flower arranging or for displaying in a vase, or you can buy them already potted up. If you buy them in a pot, once they have finished blooming they should die back. Once this happens, just store them in a cool dark place for a few months to rest. You can repot them or just start watering them with a weak fertilizer solution to get them going again.
thagirion
Feb. 9th, 2006 04:05 am (UTC)
Wow that is all very interesting. I love bright hot pinks and yellow and that's probably what I'll try to get. Thanks for all the info.
phylsfrills
Feb. 10th, 2006 01:50 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. I did forget to mention that when the bulbs rest, they should be stored in the fridge for a couple of months in brown paper bag in crisper. But I see others mentioned that fact. Here in the north, we forget about doing that as there is no need with bulbs. We do it with seeds though, harvested in the fall. They need that winterized effect to get them to germinate when planted in the spring. Two weeks in the fridge does it.
amergina
Feb. 9th, 2006 03:19 am (UTC)
The problem you'll encounter with tulips (and some other fall-planted bulbs) in your zone is that tulips require an extended period of cold in order to sprout and bloom. Tulips tend not to like zones warmer than 7... the winters just aren't cold enough in zones higher than 7.

Zone 9 is too warm to grow them as a perennial, unless you pull the bulbs out in the fall, chill them for an extended period of time, and then plant them again in late winter. If you do buy bulbs, you'll have to chill them before planting, unless you purchase pre-chilled bulbs.

It's one of those rare cases where a plant does better in a colder climate than in a warmer one.
thagirion
Feb. 9th, 2006 04:06 am (UTC)
Oh I can imagine then that our hot humid weather would be a problem. Just how much should I chill them? This may sound silly but do they have to be stuck in the fridge?
amergina
Feb. 9th, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC)
Well, I live in zone 6 *looks outside at the snow and sighs* so I just plant them sometime around the first frost, and hope that the moles and voles don't eat them. :)

I did find an article here about growing tulips in western climates, which might be of some help. Here are the important bits:

Buy only top-quality bulbs.

In mild climates, chill tulips before planting. Store the bulbs in paper or netted bags - not plastic - for six to eight weeks in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. Do not mix them with fruit.

IN THE GROUND

* Plant in full sun and well-drained soil. If the soil is heavy, add plenty of organic matter or plant in raised beds. In coldest climates (Sunset zones 1-6), where bulbs will live on for more than one season, mix a bulb fertilizer into the soil.

* Plant at the right depth. Follow instructions for your climate in our chart on page 84 (measure from the top of the bulb).

* Space them correctly. Set tulip bulbs 2 to 4 inches apart. Exception: When planting forget-me-nots, pansies, violas, or other flowers above the bulbs, plant the tulips 8 inches apart on center and the flowers 10 inches on center.

* Water well after planting, and often enough to keep the soil from drying out if rain doesn't come. When stems emerge from the soil, water to keep the soil moist.

* After bloom, in mild climates, pull out and discard the bulbs. In cold climates, for bloom next year, snip off spent flowers. Then fertilize with nitrogen and allow the leaves to manufacture nutrients. Cut the leaves off when they turn yellow.
thagirion
Feb. 10th, 2006 12:56 am (UTC)
Wow that's a lot of info. Thanks. That does help a lot. Ah so putting them in the fridge isn't so crazy. Yeah, I'm down in Florida so it can get rather hot.
detura
Feb. 9th, 2006 03:31 am (UTC)
in warmer climates you might have problems with tulips coming back the next year (i live in zone 7) - they need about 6 weeks of mild chill (think holland))). for your zone it's best to plant them in late fall or early winter, i put mine on the north side of fences and small buildings - my only "freeze" zone. Those spots get enough sun in the spring when the sun is higher, but stay cool in the winter. i would also recommend looking into varieties bred for warmer climates - there is plenty of nurseries selling them on-line.
thagirion
Feb. 9th, 2006 04:07 am (UTC)
Ok thanks very much. I'll look into what types they have that would do well down here.
(no subject) - anniemorphine - Feb. 9th, 2006 06:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
thagirion
Feb. 10th, 2006 12:57 am (UTC)
Cool. I'm in FL.
artistboi
Feb. 9th, 2006 09:04 pm (UTC)
get the ones without flowers, they won't rebloom this year, you want them to bloom fully while u have them.
thagirion
Feb. 10th, 2006 12:57 am (UTC)
Good idea. Thanks for the advice.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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