1. Tulips are plants of areas with a hard and long cold winter, a short spring and a hot dry summer in which the bulbs are well baked. In Western Europe these conditions are hard to find and this is the main reason why tulips are not reliable perennials.
2. In the wild the tulip bulbs are generally found very deep, often up to 40cm down. It is believed that the bulbs plant themselves deep because they prefer temperature that fluctuates as little as possible. For planting in your own garden, however, 15-20cm deep is in most cases quite sufficient.
3. Tulips benefit by being planted fairly late. Soil that is still too warm at planting time disturbs the delicate dormancy the bulb might still be in. Starting in autumn tulip bulbs need a cool period to form a good root system which enables them to produce a good flower next spring.
4. Tulip bulbs are best planted when soil temperature have dropped below 10°C. This means that the best time for planting depends on where you live: in Scandinavia plant by late September; for Britain, Germany and Holland the best time is October or early November; plant late November in southern France; mid December in the south of Italy.
5. Treat tulips as annuals where a perfect display is desired: after flowering, lift and discard the bulbs and replant fresh ones next autumn. In less formal situations you can leave the bulbs in place. Next year's flowers will be uneven in size and height, but that can have its own special charm.
6. Which end of a tulip bulb is up? Tulip bulb are best planted with the pointed end facing up. But don't worry too much about this. Tulips know to send their shoots up and their roots down. They will grow and bloom even if you plant them upside down.
7. There is no such thing as a blue tulip. You'll find tulips described and pictured as blue in catalogues and on the web but when spring comes, the blue you longed for will be just another shade of lilac, violet or purple. Despite the ever-growing range of tulip colours, blue is still just a hybridizerâ€™s dream. Closest of all tulips to a 'true blue' is: Blue Parrot. Other recommended violets and purples are: Blue Diamond; Cummins; and Negrita.
8. The quality of tulips slowly unfolding their beauty emphasizes the fact that to know them you must live with them. Where tulips are planted by hundreds in parks or public grounds, they make beautiful pictures. But these large displays will not give you as much real pleasure as a single tulip slowly unfolding its loveliness in your own garden.
Strictly speaking, tulip bulbs cannot be guaranteed to flower for more than one season. Tulips hail from the rugged and windy mountains of Central Asia and need conditions that are not usually found in European gardens. However, to encourage your tulips to bloom for several years in a row, we recommend that you do the following:
•Plant your bulbs deep (20-30cm). Deep planting helps to prevent the bulb from splitting up into many small, non-flowering bulbs.
•Fertilize the bulbs when the foliage pushes through the soil in spring. We recommend a general low-nitrogen organic fertilizer.
•Remove spent flowers as soon as the bulbs finish blooming. Snapping off the top of the flower stem encourages the plant to send energy into bulb growth rather than seed production.
•Allow the foliage to wither completely before you remove it.
•Avoid summer irrigation. Tulips prefer to be dry during their dormancy.
Tulips which have proven to be good perennial: Big Eartha; Red Impression; Banja Luka; Spring Garden; wild tulip Lady Jane; wild tulip sylvestis.
Naturalising bulbs are bulbs, corms and tubers that will come back and flower year after year. If information on this website indicates that the bulbs are suitable for naturalising, they do not need to be lifted from the soil. Naturalising bulbs will flower again next year and can even increase in number.
Bulbs indicated as naturalising bulbs will definitely emerge and flower next year. Other bulbs can be experimented with to see if they will naturalise in your garden. Whether this will be successful or not depends mostly on the composition of the soil, its ph level, and the drainage. You will often have several years of success with bulbs if you refrain from trimming their foliage immediately after flowering but wait a month or two to allow them to die back completely.