Do it Yourself: Grow your Own Tulip Garden

Every spring if you walk down past your neighbor’s gardens for a stroll in the park, what do you inevitably see, both in the gardens and the park… beautiful displays of tulips. Gardens full of delight!

Tulip gardens are easy to create because they are readily available, cheap and have a wide range of colors and forms. Most garden outlets and bulb catalogs sell the large-flowered garden tulips in packets of mixed colors according to group or in packets of named individual varieties. The large-flowered garden tulips are used as bedding plants – they combine really well with forget-me-nots and wallflowers. They can also be used to great effect in scattered clumps among perennials or other bulbs. The smaller species of tulips have a less variation of colors than the garden tulips, but they have a more delicate form and are ideal for rockeries and container gardens.

The requirements for successfully growing tulips are:

  • choosing large healthy looking bulbs
  • have well drained alkaline soil
  • plant in a sunny spot

The soil must be well drained and preferably alkaline; if it is acidic, apply lime before planting. Now’s also the time to add a fertiliser which releases good nutrients steadily to the soil and provide long lasting feed for the bulbs.

The bulbs of garden tulips and the Fosteriana and Greigii hybrids are best used as bedding plants or as group plantings in borders. Plant in early winter-if they’re put in the ground any sooner, early growth could get frost damage.

It’s best to lift the bulbs when the leaves start turning yellow, but if the site is needed for summer bedding, lift the tulips earlier, replant them in a spare corner, and lift again when the leaves have died down. Place the plants in shallow boxes and store in a dry shed.

Plant the bulbs of species and Kaufmanniana hybrid tulips in early winter, in well-drained soil in a south-facing position, sheltered from strong winds. After flowering, remove the leaves and stems as they die. Leave the bulbs in the ground and keep the area free of weeds.

In spring, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the colorful show they provide for such little work and moreover you’ll have created a beautiful tulip garden of your own.

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