Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tulips: Delusions of Grandeur



Now that it's too late to chill tulips, I think longingly of the tulips I once grew. I had to prove to myself that I could bring tulips to bloom in a hot, humid climate where there is insufficient winter chill, maybe because nobody around me tried to grow tulips. My mother successfully grew tulips in the cooler, northern part of the state, why couldn't I grow them here?

Chill one week for every inch of stem length. That means 14 weeks for better than 12" tulips.





Jan Reus tulips just to the left of the center pink hyacinths.

I still believe I can grow tulips, I just one day realized how much I was spending on tulip bulbs for forcing while battling Fire blight and voles. That money is better spent on longer lasting delights. Hyacinths cost more, but just one is enough to be impressive, forced in a coffee mug or a hyacinth vase. Planted outdoors, they will return for a number of years. The second year isn't as spectacular as the first, but subsequent years are wonderful.



Spring will come. Daffodils and hyacinths will bloom in gorgeous array. I'll still long for tulips.
Pictures are from my garden, 2003 and 2004. Every year is different; it can only get better.

Will you have tulips blooming in the spring?

22 comments:

  1. I had to laugh at your title, because ain't that the truth. I do plant tulips outside every year, just regarding them as annuals; the species come back for me, and some of the tougher regular tulips like Triumphs and Darwins, come back for at least several years before dwindling away. We have the cold, no problem--we just don't have the hot, dry summer that they like to bake in to bring them around for another year. And I grow forced tulips indoors too, as a promise of spring.
    Know where you're coming from with word verification, but I've used it and comment moderation for years and no one seems to mind. Except for those days when Blogger can't see that we've typed in the word, but those days were much more frequent when I started blogging .

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  2. Sometimes tulips were not even annuals for me, tulip fire would take out the blooms, despite careful site rotation. Maybe half of 25 would bloom, and I would despair.

    The worst thing was last year, when I got the idea to use sterile potting soil and grow in pots. The new puppy discovered the tulips, outside in the cool, and ate them.

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  3. I won't have tulips, but I did plant some Grand Primo Daffodils for the first time. I can't wait to see them in spring. Pretty photos!

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  4. Hi Nell Jean,
    No tulips for me either. Even though we can chill them, like you, I haven't seen any tulips growing in our area. I think for most people, it is just too much trouble. I would love to travel to Holland someday to view their tulip fields.

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  5. Thanks, Amy and AZ Plantlady. I always wanted to go see the Tulip fields, too. I wanted a river of muscari like you see in the photos. I barely managed a trickle once, and it didn't last.

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  6. Nope. No tulips for me even after they got marked down 90%. I wasn't willing to spend money on them. The ones that make it through the winter thanks to all the critters would only look really good for about a week, then there's nothing but dying foliage. The next year they come back up, never bloom, and die a slow agonizing death. I'd rather invest in daffodils, muscari, crocus, and other spring flowering plants that do well in my area. I wish I could grow them, but I know it's just not possible unless I plant them every year and keep a container in the fridge for several months. It's colder here than where you are, too.

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  7. I planted about 100 tulips a few weeks ago. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they bloom in the spring because this will be my first time growing them.

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  8. The photos of tulips and spring flowers made me forget for a moment that right outside my frosted window the wind is whipping like a naughty child. Yep, I grow tulips every chance I get.

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  9. Tom, that was an aspect of tulips that I failed to point out -- the blooms last such a short time, especially when the weather is warm here. I figured out by observation that Iceland poppies bloom for three weeks or more, tulips for hardly more than 3 days. Poppies, if you can find transplants or grow from seed, are a much better buy. Iceland poppies bloomed in my garden the last time I planted purple tulips, which is how I finally saw the light.

    Ellie and Teresa, I look forward to seeing pics of your tulips,come Spring.

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  10. I gave up on all tulips except for the little species types a few years ago. Here - we have lots of cold - minus 10 degrees last night, for a long, long time, but the 70 mile an hour winds in the springtime pretty much take care of any blooms. I still have some that come back year after year though, in places I could have sworn I removed them all. Kathy

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  11. I don't waste my money on tulips anymore! The moles/voles or whatever those underground beasts were would eat them before spring. I would realize in late summer that I never saw a single bloom......

    I guess I could do them in barrels, but haven't yet.

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  12. I have some in the vegetable crisper of the fridge as we speak ;-)
    Those silly deers always eat mine before they get a chance to bloom.The only ones that survive are the ones against the house but after them coming in close to the house to eat my anemones this fall I am not even sure about them anymore.
    They are treated as annuals at my house also. I have been curious about the species variety but theydo not looks as pretty in the catalogs.

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  13. Neil Jean,

    I never even think about planting tulips they just fiss out in these parts. We planted tons of daffodils, crocus, and muscari.

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  14. oh yes, lots of tulips - dark blues, purple parrots, small single pinks, large cupped yellows... I always took tulips and daffs for granted until I read your post!

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  15. I got some bulbs in the fridge now chillin to try when it turns cold. They were free going in the trash so if they do nothing nothing is lost but my Delusions. But I have many other gardening delusions to replace the Tulip one.

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  16. Like Wendy, I take tulips for granted too. I started planting tulips about 12 years ago and plant over 500 tulip bulbs a year (along with the hundreds of other bulbs of various types). Some of my very first tulips are still coming up beautifully every year! We have cold winters and hot, humid, droughty summers -- must be the perfect conditions :)

    I love your pictures of your tulips. Purple is one of my favorites.

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  17. Yes, Nell. I've got loads of poppy seeds left to scatter and others already scattered. My favorite is Papaver somniferum. The bloom shape is a lot like tulips. They hold their blooms longer in the warm spring weather. And the seed heads add more visual interest after the blooms have faded. It's one of those "I can't grow this, so I grow those" moments for me too.

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  18. For me, planting tulips was synonymous with planting disappointment. I worked hard to pre-chill, find a perfect place, amend, water, etc, but I ended up with much less pampered plants looking so much better.

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  19. I sometimes plant tulips, but they rarely return for a second year - when they do, they are wimpy. So I look upon them as annuals, expensive, beautiful ones.

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  20. NellJean, those have to be the most beautiful tulips!

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  21. I will have tulips blooming, in theory. Planted some species tulips, T. saxatalis for the first time, in my garden and in my mother's. Supposedly they don't need winter chill and will naturalize in our area. We'll see. Not exactly the grandeur that I think she wants, but they should be nice.

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  22. Looking at your beautiful tulip pictures makes me want to grow them, and I can understand why you want to grow them, also. Here, in my garden, they never do well after the first year and the deer LOVE them! So they are just a dream for me too. Pam

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I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.



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