It would seem that what could be easier: plant the bulbs in the ground – and wait for sprouts.
But there are nuances in planting tulips. Soil preparation, bulbs treatment, correct embedding – about all this and more read in this article.
Tulips are firmly associated with spring and holidays. But in order for the flowers to please you with bright colors after the long winter, you need to take care of their planting already in the fall.
Step 1: Buy and save before planting
In August-early September, as soon as tulip bulbs appear on sale, gardeners are just itching to buy them. And indeed, how to pass by such a beauty! And what if they are sold out! In fact, if you are not in a hurry, at the end of the season you will be left with only poor quality planting material that is unlikely to rejoice with germination.
But it is worth understanding that it is difficult to preserve bulbs at home without a cellar. Before planting, they should be kept in a dry, cool, and ventilated place. Without access to air, the bulbs will “suffocate”, in a too-hot room that will shrivel, and in a damp place, they will be covered with mold. In August the storage temperature should be 20°C, in September it will be reduced to 15°C.
When buying tulips at the market, beware of unscrupulous sellers who sell the cheapest planting material under the guise of elite varieties. Another problem with market bulbs is the risk of assortment, i.e. you may end up with good tulips, but not the variety that you liked. That’s why we recommend buying bulbs in a store or, if you want a rare or collectible variety, buying it by mail.
To choose good bulbs, take a cheat sheet to the store or market with their classification by size, so that you understand the labels correctly.
For growing in the open ground are suitable bulbs of any size. But it is worth remembering that babies, as well as planting material of the 3rd (and sometimes 2nd) size, can not give a flower in the first year after planting. And if you want to buy tulips for the bunting, look for extra-class bulbs only, or at the very least, 1st sort.
A good bulb should be dense, weighty, with thin golden-brown scales, and without mechanical damage. The root buds should be clearly visible on the base, and the neck should be firm and dry to the touch. Also note the presence of the tip of the future stem, which has not yet gone into growth.
Step 2: Choose a site and prepare the soil
Choose a place for planting tulips so that the site is open, moderately sunny, and protected from strong winds. The soil should be well-drained, level, or with a slight slope to allow meltwater to drain away. Although tulips are moisture-loving, stagnant groundwater can kill them. Bulbs often get soaked, they are affected by fungal diseases, and in winter they freeze to death. Therefore, low-lying, waterlogged areas are not suitable, or a good drainage system should be arranged there.
Tulips are excellent in loose, fertile, water-permeable loam and loam with a neutral and slightly alkaline reaction. Heavy clay soils are suitable only after their optimization by adding coarse river sand, peat with neutral pH, and humus.
But if your soil is clayey, don’t despair. Here are some tips on how you can grow tulips even in heavy soil.
To prepare the soil for planting tulips, follow these instructions.
Dig over the area to a depth of two bayonets of your shovel. Deep digging is necessary because the roots growing out of the bottom are far from the surface. It is important to carry out the work in advance (2-3 months, at least 2 weeks before planting), so that the soil had time to settle. Otherwise, the growing roots will be damaged.
Loosen the heavy soil. If the soil is quite heavy and not loose enough, add sand, decomposed sawdust, or peat to it.
Fertilize. Of organic fertilizer, compost, and humus 2-3 years old (10-15 kg / sq m) is the best. Acidic soil is worth lime to bring the pH to 7.1-7.5. Comprehensive mineral fertilizers with a high percentage of potassium and phosphorus are made just before planting (40-100 g / sq m).
Plan the planting. It is very difficult to say in advance when to plant tulip bulbs. It is recommended to plant 3-4 weeks before the first frost so that the flowers have time to root. But since it is impossible to calculate this time precisely, the timing can be shifted. In the middle zone, the best time is from mid-September to early October, when the soil cools to 6-10 ° C at a depth of 15 cm. If the autumn is warm, there is no hurry to send tulips into the ground. If the soil temperature is higher at the time of planting, it will overuse nutrients and the plants will not survive the winter.
Do not feed tulips with fresh manure. This can cause the bulbs to become infested with fungal diseases. In addition, fresh organic matter attracts earthworms, followed by moles, which can not only spoil the appearance of the flower bed but also contribute to the loss of plants.
Step 3: Prepare the bulbs
Before planting, conduct a complete sanitary inspection of the bulbs and ruthlessly cull any diseased ones. Even one diseased bulb can infect not only its immediate neighbors but the entire soil.
Sort the planting material into breakdowns. The size makes a difference when planting, and it is also easier to care for and then dig up flowers planted by division.
Immediately before planting, soak the bulbs for 30-40 minutes in a solution of Maxim Dachnik, Vitaros, 0.5% manganese solution, or any other fungicide.
Step 4: Putting the bulbs in the ground
The optimum thickness of the layer of soil from the bottom of the tulip to the surface of the ground is three bulb heights when planting in light soils and two of its height in heavy soils. Do not plant more than 20 cm deep. Baby bulbs should be planted about 8 cm deep.
Do not remove the scales from the bulb, as they have a protective function. And to discourage rodents, we recommend sprinkling the planting materials with freshly ground red pepper.
The distance between the bulbs is determined by their size, as well as the purpose of the planting. If you are creating a bright flowerbed for one season (after flowering, the bulbs will be discarded), plant close – at a distance of 2 times the diameter of the bulb.
But if you are planning perennial cultivation, you should take care of a more serious distance between flowers. This is important so that the plants get enough light and nutrition, and for ease of care. Plant large bulbs in rows 8-10 cm apart and leave 20-25 cm between the rows. It is believed that the maximum productivity can be obtained by planting 50 large bulbs per 1 sq.m., small – up to 80-100 pcs.
Start planting with early flowering tulips, gradually moving on to later varieties.
Traditionally, tulips are planted in wells. And if there are not too many bulbs, a separate hole is dug for each of them. But if a large-scale planting is planned, you can select the soil to the right depth over the entire area, level the bottom, and then arrange the bulbs.
Put some sand at the bottom of the holes, which will create a favorable air regime for the bulbs and reduce the risk of infection.
When planting, do not press the bulbs into the ground very hard. This can damage the root roll, which is dangerous for the development of diseases. Carefully place the bulb and cover it with soil so that there is no cavity where water can collect in the planting area.
It does not matter whether you place the bulb face down or sideways. However, with the bulb facing down, it will take more energy and time to propagate and flowering will be delayed as a result.
It happens that the optimum time for planting has long passed, and you found in the pantry or cellar forgotten bulbs. You should not store them until spring. How to plant such tulips, you can read in our article.
Step 4: Cover for the winter
Although tulips are not afraid of frost, covered plants give 50% more bulbs, stronger flower stems, and larger flowers. Therefore, with the onset of stable cold weather (when the soil freezes overnight and thaws during the day), it is advisable to mulch and covers the plantings with lapnik.
Especially important is mulching if you delayed with planting or decided to grow capricious Dutch varieties. In this case, after the first frosts, sprinkle a 5-10 cm layer of peat or compost.
Methods of planting tulips
In addition to planting in wells, there are other options for growing tulips – in a basket, on a grid, or in decorative boxes.
Planting in a basket. There are special containers for planting bulbs on sale. Thanks to them, planting tulips is much easier. You do not need to bend down every time to take the next few bulbs. With this basket, you only have to bend over once – to bury the container in the ground. Another advantage of this method is that all plants can be arranged in the bed by variety, and they will not get mixed up. And the presence of borders (10-12 cm) serves as additional protection against rodents. To dig out the basket, you just need to pry its corner with a pitchfork, and it will be on the surface with all the contents. If you are using containers with large holes in the bottom, aim the pitchfork below the bottom so that the small bulbs do not jump out through the holes.
Planting on plastic nets. We are talking about the nets in which potatoes, carrots and other vegetables are sold. The meaning of this “invention” is to protect against vole mice. In the planned place it is necessary to remove the soil to the required depth and level the bottom. And then the cut grid is placed so that its edges protrude above the surface of the groove for planting, and for 2-3 cm is filled with sand. The next task is to arrange the bulbs and carefully cover them with soil. Finally, hide the edges of the mesh in the ground, so that they do not spoil the look of the bed.
In decorative boxes and vases. If your plans include decorating the garden with boxes of flowers, from the fall choose bulbs of low tulips. Plant them a few at a time in plastic pots or any other containers (such as trimmed water jars) with plenty of drainage holes. Dig them into the ground or leave them in a cold cellar. In the spring, place in decorative containers and arrange them in the garden.
Another way of planting tulips can also be distinguished – for the bunting for the holidays. In this case, you need to act a little differently.
A bouquet of tulips that you grow yourself in mid-February is quite realistic. The main thing is to properly organize the bunting of bulbs. We will tell you how to do it.
There is nothing complicated about planting tulips. Many people do it without adhering to any technology. But if this is your first acquaintance with bulbs or if you want to do everything “according to science”, our recommendations will help to get a bright flower bed in spring.