Written by J.K. DePeal
March 12, 2009
Bring your tulips back year after year
Soon your spring bulbs will be pushing through the still-cold, possibly even snow-covered, soil. Spring bulbs are often one of the first signs that warmer weather is really on the way. Crocus and daffodils are quite dependable when it comes to giving us repeat growth year after year. This is because they tend to naturalize well and even multiply giving more blooms each year.
Unfortunately, this is not always true with our tulips. Most tulips do not naturalize well but rather are considered perennials, which sometimes come back for several years, then die out and disappear.
To prolong the blooming years of these colorful spring flowers there are some things you can do. Try the following and enjoy a repeat show of these blooms for years to come.
• Purchase and plant tulip types that are know for their naturalizing or perennializing qualities. When purchasing tulips, look for the term “naturalizing” or “perennial” on the package.
• To assist your tulips in re-blooming, plant them at least three times as deep as the length of the bulb, but no deeper. This ensures that they will be well below the ground freeze level but not so deep that they use up their energy to bloom before they even emerge in the spring.
• Once blooms are spent, deadhead the tulips, removing the dried bloom and seed heads.
• Do not remove the tulip’s leaves after the blooms are gone. These leaves are still at work absorbing the sunlight and converting it to carbohydrates that will be stored in the bulbs. These carbohydrates provide the energy the bulb needs to grow and re-bloom the following spring. Cut the leaves off after they are dead, yellow and dry.
• Plant the tulips where they will receive at least four to six hours of full sun when the leaves are grown and green. With less sun, tulips will grow and bloom the first year after planting but they will probably not bloom after the first year.
• To help your tulips re-bloom year after year, work good, rich compost into the planting area along with a slow-release, nitrogen fertilizer. Then each spring, apply a complete fertilizer with fast-release nitrogen into the soil around the plants when they first begin to emerge in the spring.
• After planting your bulbs, water the tulip bed to settle the soil. As long as the weather is mild in the late fall and early winter, provide the bulbs with enough water to help them develop a strong root system.
Choosing the proper varieties of tulips and providing them with the proper care and feeding will reward you with years and years of flowers from one of spring’s loveliest bloomers.