Tulips are one of the easiest to grow and almost problem free flowers for the garden. They are a true spring delight sure to bring a smile. Some of our tulips are finally in bloom and the rest are ready to follow suit. Each year the tulip clumps get larger. The majority of the tulip clumps are orangish red giving a blast of wonderful colour. Somehow a clump of rosy pink and one clump of deep yellow found their way into the bed. The tulips were inherited with the house.
Tulips need very little maintenance. If planting new bulbs, they should be planted in the fall but can be planted in the early spring if the bulbs have be pre-chilled in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks prior to planting. I prefer the naturalized look so clumps instead of rows is the way to plant for this type of tulip garden. Take a handful of bulbs, drop onto the soil from a height of about two feet. Plant each bulb where it lands. Spacing should be about 4 inches apart but in a random pattern. If planting new bulbs for a more formal look, plant in rows with a 4 inch spacing. Planting depth for either should be 2 1/2 to 3 times the diameter of the bulb or about 4 to 6 inches deep.
Tip #1: After tulips are finished blooming, leave them alone until they die back. The leaves are providing food to the bulb. Leaves and stems should be left until the turn brown and fall off by themselves or come off with a very tender tug. Your tulips will thank you with gorgeous blooms the following year.
Tip #2: In milder climates, tulips should be dug up and pre-chilled in the fall before planting. This is not necessary for our Zone 6A in Ontario, Canada but I know some do it anyway. I don't. My tulips seem to live on neglect.
Tip #3: Dividing tulip clumps is rather easy as I found out accidentally while digging in the garden bed where they were growing. Up popped several tulip bulbs some with smaller bulbs attached. I worked up the soil, broke the bulbs apart then replanted the bulbs. This approach worked well for me but if you are in a warmer climate you should pre-chill the bulbs before planting again.
Tip #4: Take pictures! You might not think your tulips have changed from one year to the next but they do.