Thinking of planting tulips at home? Unsure of which variety is best to grow? Clueless on how to take care of your plant? We got you covered! Keep on reading the rest of this post and we’ll share with you some of the most important things that you need to know about tulips.
Background and History
A quintessential flower during the spring season, tulips belong to the bulbous family of lilies. They usually flower from March to May and people plant them from October to November. The specific timing of planting tulips, however, may vary depending on your location and the conditions of the external environment, such as the climate.
More than being exquisite in appearance, this flower also has a rich history. Although most of the tulips that we know today are from Holland, it is not its origin. The first cultivation was in Persia during the 10th century. It eventually found its way to Europe and the United States. Today, its beauty was able to capture people from all over the world, making it hard to rival in terms of popularity as a spring bloom.
Tulips are not just attractive flowers, but they are also symbolic. In a general sense, it is a symbol of perfect love. However, different colors may have different meanings. Purple tulip, for instance, connotes royalty. White tulips, meanwhile, convey forgiveness. On the other hand, yellow tulips signify happy and cheerful thoughts. And without a doubt, red tulips are a symbol of romantic love.
Physical Characteristics of Tulips
More than the bold color, tulips are also popular because of their almost perfect and symmetrical shape. Many of them will have three petals and three sepals. Nonetheless, because the sepals look almost the same as the petals, it seems like a single bulb has six petals.
The height of tulips may vary, but on average, it can be anywhere from six to 30 inches. The spread, on the other hand, is about six inches. Most of the varieties will grow a single bulb in one stem, but there are also some wherein there can be up to four bulbs on one stem. They are available in almost every color you can imagine, but some of the most popular are white, red, orange blue, and pink.
Varieties of Tulips
There are more than 150 species and 3,000 varieties of tulips. If you have no idea on which one to choose, below are some of the options that are worth considering.
- Single Early
- Single Late
- Darwin Hybrid
- Double Bloom
As the name implies, this type produces a single flower in one stem and is also one of the early bloomers. They thrive in cooler weather and their flowers can generally last longer as against those that bloom late.
From all the varieties of tulips, this is the last one to bloom. To add, it is also the tallest, which has an average height of 18 to 30 inches. The flower has a cup shape and is available in contrasting colors.
With brilliant color and long stem, this is one of the most beautiful tulip varieties. The most common colors are red, orange, pink, yellow, and white. To enjoy continuous growth, do not cut the leaves after blooming.
The feathery petals and bright colors of this tulip are perhaps the reason behind its name. It has a large flower that can be in shades of white, blue, red, pink, and purple, among others. It is an exotic choice for a beautiful floral arrangement.
Also known as Crispa tulips, their petals have cut fringes. It has a soft and delicate appearance. The most common colors are yellow, white, violet, red, and blue. The frilly edges give the flower an exotic appeal.
They either have semi or double flowers, which make them look like peonies. While standard tulips have a single petal layer, these blooms have multiple layers, making it a stunning addition to a floral arrangement.
This cold-hardy variety of tulip has a strong stem. It is one of the largest from the groups of tulips, which is also the reason why it is amongst the most popular. It is able to withstand even a cold temperature and will thrive well even in containers.
Some people call it Jewel of the Garden or botanical tulips. Compared to the standard tulips, it has a slightly different appearance. It is shorter and the blooms are also smaller. The best thing about this variety is that it has a long life.
Also known as green tulips, it is available in a wide array of colors, but one common denominator is that they have shades of green. They are long blooming. The two-tone color combination provides the flower a striking appearance.
If you want tulips with colorful and large blooms, this is an excellent option. The flower can bloom at a diameter of up to six inches. The leaves make it unique as they have maroon spots or streaks.
An early bloomer, it has large flowers while the stems are short. They are also wide, similar to a water lily. These are compact plants, making it an excellent choice for pots or borders.
It is another flower with a large bloom, which can reach a size of up to eight inches. The stems, meanwhile, are short and usually only up to ten inches. The color is usually light orange and yellow.
Tulip is the third most popular garden flower. Its popularity, however, is not only because of its attractive and colorful blooms. Many people maybe unaware, but tulips can actually deliver a variety of health benefits, including the following:
- Treatment of Insect Bites: If you have rashes on your skin, such as one that results from an insect bite, a poultice with tulip can be an excellent solution. Simply crush the petals and apply it on the part of the skin with rashes.
- Improves Skin Health: Tulip essential oil will make an excellent natural alternative for skincare products. It has a moisturizing effect, which can rejuvenate the skin and will help it to combat the visible signs of aging.
- Provides Mental Clarity: In the form of an essential oil, tulip can also provide clarity of the mind, and hence, will help you to focus on what you are doing. This is also the reason why it has a calming effect and can enhance your mood.
- Prevents Insomnia: This benefit of tulip is related to how it can improve mental clarity. An incense or candle with tulip scent can have a positive impact on your sleep. The same thing is true with the tulip essential oil.
Uses and Applications
Need reasons to grow tulips in the garden? Here are some of its most common uses:
- Ornamental: This is the use of tulip that most people know about. Whether as a decorative plant in a garden or for bouquets and other flower arrangements, its vibrant blooms are sure to look pretty.
- Essential Oil: Commercially, there are also products that use tulip as the main ingredient, especially in the form of essential oil. The oil extracts can deliver a wide array of benefits, such as the treatment of insect bites and rashes.
- Culinary Applications: The bulb of the tulip is also edible. You can add it in salad, which will make the color a standout. You can also dry and crush the bulbs of spring tulip, which you can add in cereals.
- Tea: You can also have a home-made tea using tulip blooms and leaves. All that you have to do is to place them in boiling water. The heat will extract the flavor from the flowers and leaves.
How to Plant Tulips
Planting tulips is best done through a healthy bulb and not from seeds. These bulbs are available in a local nursery or you can also purchase them online. When choosing bulbs, it is better that you opt for one that is perennial, which means that it will bloom season after season. It should also be firm when you touch them and should have an onion-like papery skin.
Once the bulb is ready, the next thing that you should do is to find a place where you will plant them. If you are planting them in containers, be sure to pick a variety that thrives well even in a small space. Choose a position that is sunny but with a partial shade.
Evaluate the quality of the soil in the garden. It should not be too hard. If you are planting in containers, on the other hand, you can use a potting mix with organic matter to make it nutrient-rich. Dig a hole in the ground, approximately with a depth of six to eight inches. The holes can be deeper, depending on the size of the bulb that you will plant. See to it as well that there are at least six inches of space between each hole, providing each plant with sufficient room to grow.
Plant the bulb in the hole, making sure that the pointed side is facing upwards. Cover the hole with soil. Be careful in doing this to be sure that the bulb will not tilt downwards or on the side. If it moves, the growth will not be upwards. After this, lightly water from the top, which will encourage faster growth. At this point, all that you have to do is wait for the plant to sprout in spring.
Common Pests and Diseases
It is inevitable that tulips will suffer from different problems, most of which are due to the external environment and the failure to address the problem as soon as possible. In terms of diseases, some problems include grey bulb rot, crown rot, Pythium root rot, and Botrytis blight. Meanwhile, there are also pests that can bring infestation, such as aphids, slugs, and caterpillar.
How to Take Care of Tulips
Here are some simple but effective ways to encourage the healthy growth of tulips:
- When planting the bulb, to improve the condition of the soil, you can also consider adding mulch. Leaves and wood chips will also be great. They will also be effective in improving the ability of the soil to retain moisture.
- Water is important for the tulips to survive, but you have to know when to do this. Water the soil right after planting. The next time that you have to water the plant is when you see its first set of leaves. If there is no rain for a few weeks and if the weather is too hot, you have an excuse to water the plant.
- Fertilizing will also help to encourage the full growth and larger blooms. It will be best to fertilize at the start of fall and spring. Apply a liquid fertilizer around a month after planting. As an alternative to fertilizers, you can also add compost to supplement the nutrients that the plant needs, read our compost tumbler reviews to pick the best one if you have interest.
- Deadhead the tulip once it starts to wilt. If there are blooms that look as if they are affected by a disease or pest, remove them as soon as possible. Do not wait too long as this can lead to the spread of the disease.
- If you are planting the tulips in pots, it is important to have drainage holes. Tulips can survive even with minimal water. If the water is too much, this can encourage rotting of the root, amongst other diseases. Also, it is best to water early in the morning so that it will easily dry out as against watering in the evening.
Since tulips are spring flowers, this is also the best time to harvest them. Wait for the advanced bud stage. This is the point wherein the buds are not yet open, but the stems are already above the ground and they are already dark in color. Pull the plant upwards, grabbing it from the stem. Cut the bulb. Wrap it in paper and place on a vase with water, which will help to make the stem grow more upright. Trim the tulip and use it as desired, such as for floral arrangement. You can also hang it upside down if you want to preserve the flowers.
No other spring flower is perhaps as popular as tulip. It is beautiful and vibrant, making it a standout in the garden. Growing it might seem like an intimidating idea, but in reality, it is easy. as long as you are familiar with the right growing conditions and if you exert effort in taking care of the plant, it will not take long before you can harvest its attractive blooms.