When to Plant Tulip Bulbs?
A spring garden is not complete without tulips. Having planted the bulbs one cold November day, I’m always excited to see the first leaves pushing through the soil in early March. As their heads swell and the stems elongate, I can’t wait to see what colours will appear.
When Do Tulips Grow?
With careful selection it is possible to have tulips flowering in succession from late March through to May and when it comes to colour, the world really is your oyster. Since there’s not much flowering in the garden at the same time you can be as co-ordinated or as garish as you like in your colour choices.
How to Plant Tulip Bulbs?
Having visited Keukenhof garden in Holland a few years ago, I was amazed at the beauty of the bulb displays there. Tulips can be planted en masse or dotted through your borders – either way, their foliage will be disguised by perennials growing up around them and, six weeks after flowering, their stems can be cut to the ground to flower the following year.
Alternatively they can be lifted and composted so that a new swathe of colours can be trialled the following year, which is what I’m always inclined to do. The individual bulbs are not expensive so it’s easy to achieve. I also ring the changes in my pots – I will fill them with tulips which are then removed to make way for summer bedding.
Here are my personal favourites:
A Triumph tulip which is white with purple feathering. It looks sophisticated and pairs well with white or purple tulips – try it with Tulip White Prince and Tulip Purple Flag. Here it is growing through the white cornflower Centaurea montana ‘Alba’
Ivory with green feathering, Tulip Spring Green can withstand dappled shade and is reliably perennial (many tulips in the ground tend to diminish year on year). Here it is growing in the shade with white Bleeding Heart – Lamprocapnos (aka Dicentra) spectabilis ‘Alba’.
Deep aubergine with fringed edges, Tulip Curly Sue looks great contrasted with white fringed Tulip Swan Wings and is pictured here with black elder Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’ just coming into leaf in the background.
Prinses Irene or Hermitage
An early flowering Triumph tulip of orange with purple feathering that is also fragrant – pictured here with forget-me-not. Tulip Hermitage is a sport of Prinses Irene with larger blooms, deeper orange colouring and sturdy, dark stems.
Flowering as late as May, Pink Diamond is a delicate pale pink, looking serene when most other tulips have been and gone. Pictured here with Tulip La Belle Epoque behind.
A tulip with dark, almost black petals and strong stems – superior to the more widely available Queen of Night. Dark tulips need the contrast provided by adjacent foliage or flowers to avoid them looking like black holes in the border. Pictured here with orange wallflowers.