Planning Tips For Planting Beautiful Tulips ~ Planning ahead the when, where and what kind will ensure beautiful tulips growing every spring in your garden!
I have to admit that tulips are one of my most favourite flowers to grow in the garden. I think they are such a stunning flower that make a bold statement. I love how one amazing bloom can grow from one solid stem surrounded by a base of supporting green leaves. I prefer to plant them in clusters of the same colour. When they are in bloom they create vibrant pops of colour amongst the rest of the perennials that are just starting to reappear after the long winter.
Tulip bulbs are a fun flower to plant and actually a low maintenance flower to grow. You plant the bulbs in the fall, water them a bit and then forget about them over the winter. Depending where you live, six to eight months later they simply show up in your garden without too much effort on your part.
You might be wondering why I am sharing my planning tips for planting beautiful tulips when it is almost summertime but there is some logic behind my timing. I have been planting tulips every year for many years. Through a lot of trial and error as well as loads of learning along the way I have figured out how to have gorgeous tulips make their appearance every spring. As you read ahead you will find out why I am sharing these tips with you today.
One of the most important things I have figured out is the planning ahead is more important than the actual bulb planting. So what I am sharing with you are my…
Planning Tips For Planting Beautiful Tulips
Do Your Planning In The Spring
The reason for figuring out where to plant your fall bulbs in the spring is because you can see where the empty spaces are now when not everything in your garden is full grown. I have quite a large flower garden that runs along the back of the property. It looks very different every month depending on what is growing. During the months of April and May when my tulips are blooming there are a lot of perennials that are just starting to emerge. I have several large Delphiniums and Monkshood that by the end of July are massive gorgeous flowers. Right now they are only about a foot tall but in a few months they will be taller than me and my height is about five feet and eight inches. My Day Lilies and Hostas do not grow to be tall plants but they can get quite wide and take up a lot of space as well when they are fully grown. Here are a couple of the Delphiniums that grow in my garden.
Choose Future Planting Spots In The Spring
I can now see where the open spaces will be next spring. If I wait till the fall to decide where to plant the tulip bulbs, I will not be able to determine the open spaces to plant my new tulip bulbs because they will be taken up by the perennials growing in the late summer. I liken it to making a reservation at a restaurant or pre-selecting your seat on a flight. You know where you are going to sit even before it happens. You can do the same thing with your tulip bulbs!
Identify Planned Spots With Reservation Garden Markers
While you can see where the open spots are in the spring take the time to reserve those spots with garden markers. I have been experimenting with different kinds of garden markers. I like them to be useful but not be too obvious because I do not want them to be in the way while I am working in the garden and I do not want them to be a distraction from the plants and flowers. I like my garden markers to not only tell me what the plant is, but what the colour will be and when it was planted.
Last fall I made DIY Fall Bulb Planting Garden Markers. They worked very well over the winter because when spring came and the snow melted I knew where and what tulips were coming up in the garden. This spring I am trying a new kind using items primarily from the dollar store. Here is a quick tutorial showing how I made my ‘fall tulip bulb garden markers’…
1. Cut ten rectangles approximately 2” by 1-13/4 inch out of black card stock.
2. Use a white gel pen to write the following information on each rectangle:
- Future (insert bulb colour) tulip bulbs
- Fall 2016
- Spot # out of how many reserved spots
3. Slip each rectangle into a re-sealable small craft bag making sure it is securely sealed so no moisture can get in.
4. Slip the plastic bag into a black see-through favour or sachet bag with a drawstring. I bought these in the wedding section at the dollar store. I got 12 bags for $1.25!
5. Add ten black glass gems to each bag to use as weights.
6. Use a landscaping anchor pin to secure the garden marker to the reserved spot for the fall tulip planting. The landscaping anchor pin was also purchased at the dollar store at a cost of ten for $1.25!
I am quite happy with this type of garden marker because it is not too obvious during the spring and summer but will be extremely useful in the fall identifying where my new batch of purple tulips will be planted.
Take Photos Of Your Reserved Spots In The Spring
It is amazing how a garden can look totally different in May compared to September. I recommend using your Smart Phone to take photos of the reserved spots making it easier to find them in the fall. I also recommend starting on one end of the garden and placing the reservation garden markers numerically in order. Just in case for example, you have trouble re-locating #5 but have found #4 and #6, you will have a general idea where to look.
Know What Type Of Tulips You Are Planting
I belong to a horticulture society in the town where I live. I have learned so much from the members as well as the guest speakers who all have been experts in their field of gardening. A few years ago I learned from a tulip expert some information that totally changed how I approach tulip planting. It is from this guest speaker that I realized how important it was to plan your tulip planting well in advance. They key piece of information is that tulips are no longer the type of perennial flower that once they are planted will come back year after year. The tulips available for purchase today are designed to be more like an annual flower and will only come back one or may be two years after being planted. After learning this I realized why my tulips looked like this after two years….
and like this after three years…
If you are lucky enough to have the previously cultivated Heirloom tulips from years ago, they are designed to grow back with the same healthy robust bloom year after year. But most of us just have access to the newer version and will have to plan to plant new ones every one or two years.
Plant Your Tulips In Clusters
Tulips are a lot showier when they are planted in clusters or in mass displays of one colour compared to a random single flower or single rows of random colours. Last fall I planted 100 tulip bulbs in clusters of nine or ten flowers all the same colour. This spring I had ten clusters of stunning pink tulip bulbs splashed throughout my spring garden. Last fall I shared how I planted these in Timesaving Tips For Planting Tulips that you will want to check out. I used ceramic tiles to help the planting process!
Set A Target Date For When To Buy/Order New Tulip Bulbs
As you know I have already decided the colour of my tulips that I will be planting this fall. There are so many different kinds to choose from but I prefer tall tulips with a basic bloom. I usually buy my tulip bulbs at Costco and if I cannot find the kind I like there I will buy them at a garden nursery. They are usually available around the end of August and the first week of September. However, my friend Heather from New House New Home who has a stunning garden where she lives in SW Ontario let me know that she has already ordered her tulips for her fall planting.
Set A Target Date For Planting The New Tulip Bulbs
There is a bit of timing involved when planting tulip bulbs. It needs to be done before the ground freezes and the soil can still be worked. Where I live the target date will be around the last two weeks of September. I used a pencil in my planner (How To Organize Your Day Planner) to write a reminder for this time period. I need to make sure that I leave some time open during this time period to plant the new tulip bulbs.
Use A Staggered Planting System
I have tried to split older tulip bulbs but have not had a lot of success. The bulbs tend to be small and the tulips that grow from these bulbs are equally as small. I would rather put the time and effort into working with healthy robust tulips bulbs that I know will generate equally healthy and robust tulip flowers in the spring.
Newly planted tulips in my garden will grow in a healthy fashion for two years. So my planting system is to plant a new batch of about one hundred tulips in a different colour each year. The pink tulips planted last fall and bloomed this spring will be left alone in the ground so they can have another blooming season next spring. In the mean time I plan to plant purple bulbs this fall so they will bloom along with the pink bulbs. When the second growing year is up for the pink tulip bulbs I will dig up them up and put them in the compost. I will leave the purple tulips in the ground for another year and then plan to plant another colour of tulip and dig those up after year two. As for the colour I am not that well planned ahead of time. Maybe a pretty yellow colour or a deep red would complement the purple tulips!
Final Comments: I am not a professional gardener but I am a passionate gardener. I have learned that gardening is all about experimenting, taking risks and figuring out solutions and systems for what is not working and what will work best. My planning tips for planting beautiful tulips came from several years of experimenting and problem solving. I am really happy with the gorgeous clusters of tulips that show up every spring in my garden. Hope these tips help you to grow gorgeous tulips year after year!
You Turn: Do you grow tulips? What are your favourite colours? What are your tulip planting tips?
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