Growing Tulips

The history of the tulip, and how to grow and care for one properly.

The tulip is a beautiful flower, and also a cheerful reminder of Spring. Read this article to learn the history, nature and cultivation of the tulip.

The tulip is also known by the Latin name tulipa. It requires partial to full sun to flourish, and for this reason often survives an average of three days indoors. It is planted at a depth of 8 to 9 inches under the soil, and the tulip is often planted in the fall for spring blooms.

The tulip is actually a native of central Asia! The tulip is a native of the Tien-Shan and Pamir-alai Mountain Ranges near Islamabad. Tulips spread to China and Mongolia from this point, and from there entered the far reaches of Europe. The Turkish Empire is greatly renowned for having the tulips that now decorate the Netherlands, and the Turks were known as cultivators of this flower through Persia and Asia from as early as 1,000 A.D.

Tulips are greatly associated with the Dutch, and this is because of a famous Dutch gardener named Carolus Clusius who was born in 1593. Clusius was the head gardener at the University of Lieden in Holland, where his work in botany, herbs and medicine was well-known. He was the first to plant tulips in what has today become a land renowned for its fields of tulips and daffodils. His work in this area was remarkable, for the tulip is considered a wild flower due to its origins in mountainous terrain and varieties. Certain kinds of tulips grow under rocks and only in the highest climates.

When planting tulips, you should always place the pointed end up in the ground. It is also good to plant bulbs deeper than 10 inches under in warmer climates, because tulips that warm in the ground too quickly often take years to return after their first blooming period. Also, the deeper you plant a tulip, the tougher it will be. Tulips planted deeper have thicker stems and fall over less often.

When planting tulips, it is nice to place them close to one another to avoid having them standing by themselves in the Spring. This is one flower that always looks better in groups. You can place bulbs as close as six inches away from each other in the ground, and for long rows of tulips, sometimes it is nice to dig a trench to plant them in. Tulips require ground that does not retain much water, because with prolonged exposure to water in the ground they tend to rot. You can test the ground by pouring water in a hole and checking to make sure it drains away in a reasonable amount of time.



When tulips begin to die in the summer, it's important to leave them until they have all become brown. This ripens the soil for the next year, and also allows the tulips to live to their full life span. Be sure to rake away the browned and dead parts of tulips in June or July, however.

When buying cut tulips, there are some things to be aware of. Buy tulips that are closed, but that have color on top above their stems. If you buy tulips that are showing no color or are all green, they will not open when disconnected from the ground. Cut stems at an angle before placing them into bowls. Tulips will continue growing after being cut, so be aware of this when planning a vase. Also, tulips tend to grow in many different directions, but they can be straightened when wrapped in some kind of stiff foil for an hour in water. To keep tulips alive, place them in a cool place and give them lots of water. Since they drink constantly, you'll also need to change their water every other day.

Because tulips often require long, cold winters, they grow well if chilled for around four weeks before planting. Consider placing bulbs in refrigerator six to eight weeks before planting them. When cooling tulips in this way, make sure to plant them deep and in a cool spot so that they do not become too hot too quickly. This will result in no flowers. Tulip bulbs require their own special care. Since bulbs are to be planted in the fall, it is important that they not be nicked, harmed or heated excessively before this time. It is best to store bulbs in a cool place, like a shaded shed or inside the house, so that they incur no damage. Never remove the skin, or outer layer, of a tulip bulb because this will destroy it.

Several diseases can strike tulips. Some destroy the flower, some merely make it less pretty. "Blight" causes brown flecks in the leaves, and often turns the plant gray after a few weeks. Flowers with blight will "burst," or become limp and develop stripes and spots of brown and gray. This is a well-known disease among tulips, and bulbs that have been infected should be burned so that the disease can be contained.

Gray bulb rot can strike if the bulb is under the ground in water for too long. The bulb becomes too wet and soggy to open or rise above the ground, and in effect, the tulip "drowns." Tulip "breaking" causes spots and stripes on flowers, and results in smaller plants. This disease can't be cured, but if bulbs are dug up and new ones planted it is likely that they will be fine. "Crown rot" causes the bulb and flower to die under the ground. This is a rare kind of rot, and bulbs with it should be dug up and burned to prevent other plants from getting the disease.

In conclusion, care of tulips requires time and planning. The best tulips are usually chilled before they are placed in highly absorbent ground. Be sure to give cut tulips lots of water, and always cut stems at an angle so that they can drink properly. If tulips are planted correctly and remain healthy, you could enjoy the fruits of their flowering for five years of more!

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