• Plant tulip bulbs in the fall, 6 to 8 weeks before a hard frost is expected and when soils are below 60 degrees F. For Edmonton, this means mid-September or so.
• Tulips prefer a site with full or afternoon sun.
• All tulips dislike excessive moisture. Ideally, the soil is well-drained, neutral to slightly acidic, fertile, and dry or sandy.
• Rainy summers, irrigation systems, and wet soil are death to tulips. Wet soil leads to fungus and disease and can rot bulbs. Add shredded pine bark, sand, or anything to foster swift drainage.
• You’ll want to space bulbs 4 to 6 inches apart, so choose an appropriate plot size.
• For a showy, more natural looking effect, plant tulips in groups rather than rows.
• Plant bulbs deep—at least 8 inches, measuring from the base of the bulb. And that means digging even deeper, to loosen the soil and allow for drainage, or creating raised beds. Remember, the bigger the bulb, the deeper the hole it needs.
• Set the bulb in the hole with the pointy end up. Cover with soil and press soil firmly.
• Water bulbs right after planting. Although they can’t bear wet feet, bulbs need water to trigger growth.
• Water tulips during dry spells in the fall; otherwise, do not water.
• Compost annually.
• Deadhead tulips after flowering.
• Allow the foliage to yellow for about 6 weeks after flowering before removing it.
• The bulbs of Species tulips may be left in the ground for several years; others may be lifted annually, once the leaves have died down, and ripened in a warm, dry place.
Did You know?
• If you dig up a tulip bulb in midsummer, it’s not the same bulb you planted last fall. It’s her daughter. Even while the tulip is blossoming, the bulb is dividing for the next generation.
• In 17th-century Holland, the new sempter augustus tulip was such the rage that a handful of bulbs were sold for about $44,000? It truly was one of the first market crashes. Read more about the sempter augustus here.
• There are around 75 wild Tulip species and 150 species in total with over 3000 varieties.
• The Netherlands is the world’s main producer of commercially sold tulips, producing as many as 3 billion bulbs annually, mostly for export.
• Tulip petals can be eaten. During the Dutch famine of 1944 in WWII people had to resort to eating sugar beets and tulips.
(Right – Pictures of Dutch Tulip fields)