Remember seeing the lovely tulip displays around town last spring? Tulips are the classic spring flower. Their grace is matched only by their beauty, and they are easy to grow.
If you have ever ordered one garden catalog, then by now you are probably receiving seven. There are lots of companies that you can buy bulbs from, including the box stores here in town. I have followed Linda Vater’s advice and now place my bulb order from Colorblends, and I have been pleased.
The thing is, you have to order them soon. The bulbs will be delivered to you sometime in late September or early October. The soil temperature needs to be below 55 degrees when planting. The bulbs need to establish a root system before the onset of winter. Tulip bulbs are planted 8 inches deep and spaced from 2 to 6 inches apart in a generous clump of 6 to 12 or more. Refrain from planting a single bulb here and there. Tulips will make more of a statement if planted in groups. By selecting tulip bulbs designed to bloom early, mid-spring and late spring, you can extend colorful tulip blooms for many weeks.
There are extensive colors to select from. Hot colors, such as scarlet-red mixed with yellow, are a stop traffic look while the beautiful purple, rich pink tulips are just plain out of this world pretty.
Gardeners often treat tulips as annuals and replace them each year. However, there are some species that are reliable perennials and often persist for several years.
Winter can be long and drab, and when spring finally arrives, the desire for color is strong. It isn’t easy to select which tulip bulbs you want because they are all beautiful. As you look through the catalogs you will be tempted by other beautiful bulbs. Daffodils will naturalize and provide you with flowers for many springs to come. Hyacinths cannot be beat for their wonderful smell. Grape hyacinths spread and bloom for years. And, who doesn’t enjoy the tiny spring crocus that pop up telling us it’s spring? Alliums are some of my new favorite spring bulbs, as they make a definite statement in the garden and they arrive just in time as the tulips fade.
If you are wanting to have a beautiful display of tulips this coming spring you need to select your bulbs now. In the fall you plant bulbs that look like stones, and in the spring you get gorgeous tulips. It’s truly a miracle.
Milacek is a member of Garfield County Master Gardeners.