Friday, April 18, 2008

Tulips...Ah sweet tulips

Tulips, ah sweet, sweet tulips. Such a welcomed sight in the spring. What?! No tulips? You say you planted tulips and while they bloomed lovely one year, they have now disappeared?

Rest assured, you are not alone. Tulips seem to disappear each year. It is SO frustrating for a gardener.
One summer, when the Jimster was in the local public library children's program, we made weekly trips to the library. My big thing was to read plant books. I especially like books dedicated to one type of plant, like bulbs. There are TONS of bulb books in my library, but not so many dedicated to just tulips. I researched and researched. I just knew I could learn what type of tulip bulbs to plant to hopefully have them not only return each year, but to spread themselves around and perennialize.
All the books I read said Darwin hybrid tulips perennialize well. Maybe the authors' ideas of perennializing and mine were not the same. I expected all tulips to return and even to make more, they did not. I think the author maybe meant Darwin tulips perennialize better than most tulips. Since most tulips don't come back faithfully, they don't perennialize. I guess that means Darwin tulips return occasionally?

Optimistically I planted about 500 Darwin tulip bulbs that year (2005). I like bright colors, so I chose Apledoorn in red and yellows, and also some white ones. I just knew, based on my research, that the bulbs would all return. Nope. What a disappointment.

Last year (after two wasted years on the Darwin hybrid tulips), I decided to go another route. I deduced that species tulips would be the best for returning each year. After all, they are not hybridized and some have been around for hundreds of years. I duly researched all the bulb catalogs and chose the oldest type species tulip in the color I liked, red of course.

I purchased 250 of these tulips at a bargain price. They are planted in massed formations all around my backyard. The species tulips are featured in the second, third and fourth pictures.

The first thing you will notice is the foliage is very different from hybrid tulips. The foliage of the species tulip is very narrow and much shorter. This is actually a bonus since the large Darwin tulips have foliage that tends to get rather overblown, tattered and messy quite quickly. Not to mention the fact the tulips themselves are prone to being blown over.

The species tulips are short yet colorful. They are sturdy and eye catching, but not in as big a way as the hybrid tulips. Time will tell if they return faithfully each year in a better manner than the hybrids. The picture with the pinkish red and yellow tulips surprised me. The pink tulips in all of the pictures are 'Pink Impression'. They were a sale purchase at rock bottom prices in January. The yellow tulips are a Darwin hybrid I planted in 2006. I am surprised they returned as full and lush as the newly planted Pink Impression tulips. Maybe they will stay around for a while this time and I hit a good perennializing tulip hybrid.

in the garden....


  1. tina,

    good morning, still out of town, but taking a break! I love tulips, but the overblown folliage isn't I may move them to a pot after they bloom. I am very impressed that you planted hundreds of tulips~ hope to see you soon.


  2. Yeah, what it that with the tulips? We had such pretty ones the first year then after that--foliage. We have given up on them. I know people around here have them coming back each year, and when I rented, I cleared the overgrown grass and behold! Tulips. We kept thinking it was the poor soil and finally said ENOUGH!
    I saw about the tremor on the news, its a fault line. They said the last time it moved, the Mississippi river flowed backwards for three minutes. Who watches this stuff!?!
    Jack of all trades wants to shop today, maybe I'll get some more plants.
    Oh, and yeah, my son is a cripple. No nothing from him. (funny, I thought that was a teenager) Couldn't comb his hair this morning. Good, time for a haircut. Guess the nintendo thumb will change his mind.

  3. Great photos! My tulips are nearly all up but I'm finding that the one's that were supposed to be white and purple are in fact yellow and purple. I'm a little irritated, but that's what I get with a box of tulips from Sam's I guess.

  4. Green Foilage popped up on all my tulips but no blooms on any of them! i had heard they dont grow well down here but decided to give it a try in the mailbox planter. First year they all looked beautiful and the second year only three bloomed now this year, nothing. Out they go and into a pot like Gail says...

    Too funny Dawn, Yep, I bet that Nintendo will make the finger feel better...

  5. Mom-Tulips are my favorite out of all flowers. I don't know why I just love them. Where I was gardening his tulips came back every year no fail. And Mimi has some that Nana planted decades ago that come back every year. I pulled them out of her garden and Terri Lynn put them in the one out front.

  6. Very informative post. I adore tulips as well, but will keep your research in mind!

  7. gail, best wishes for you mother and safe return home. Is your subaru still acting good? hope so.

    dawn, tulips are SO frustrating. I have a garden friend who treats them as annuals down here. I thought I was pretty smart to research them and finally buck the trend with reliably returning tulips. Nope. Not so smart. If the species don't work-I'm giving up unless I can find tulips as major bargains. Glad to hear I am not the only one with problems. You should get some of the tulips Nana planted that Christine is talking about. They may work for you. Dad was telling me he has some on the old farmstead that bloomed every single year. His neighbor finally dug them all and moved them to her garden. It must've been a good variety like Nana's.

    Zach definitely needs a haircut if he can't comb it. Did he think of using his other hand? No, probably not. Jimmy his getting is cut as soon as school is out. Oh the drama. We are trying to prepare him now. Don't tell me you combed his hair? Maybe his sister would.

    Dave, Coming from you about my photos is a great compliment indeed as I have a hard time with photos. I finally learned how to crop so it is not such a big deal now. Sometimes the odd color schemes and surprises are best. Sam's bulbs or not.

    Skeeter, Your tulips have a common problem. They bloomed the first year then ran out of energy and haven't produced enough new energy to flower again. I have no idea how to fix that. I usually write the tulips off, then about 3 years later they bloom again. If you leave them there they will still produce the leaves and the the leaves nourish the bulb. In a a few more years maybe they will finally rebloom but I have some tulips that for 5 years have produced nothing but leaves. I finally dug them as I got sick of the leaves. I don't hae the heart to compost them so put them in a pot with lots of fertilizer. We'll see this fall if I replant them. Frustrating indeed. I bet those tulips will produce leaves for a few more years but not bloom.

    Christy, What color are the tulips? I did not know tulips are your favorite flower. Good to know! Do you remember traveling to Keukenhof in Holland and visiting the gardens in spring? Such a sight. I think they dig theirs each year. I should research them.

    Nancy, Good morning. Loved your post about your garden. You need lots of tulips when you get your new garden. Best wishes.

  8. Forgot to say. I heard the earthquake struck 60 miles from Evansville. Might be a good time to add that earthquake rider to our homeowners insurance since we declined it initially. It was offered because Evansville is on a fault line. It is the New Madrid fault line. We miss here in Tennessee.

  9. Good morning all....

    I wonder if it is too hot for tulips to do well down south but that does not explain why Dawn's did not do well. But I do think they need a freezing period. They used to say if you do not plant in the fall you need to put them in the freezer for some time before planting. Most people have good luck with them here in the north.

    First thing I heard this morning was about the quake and thought of all you folks as they said it was felt from Memphis to Chicago. That is a pretty big area to cover so there probably will be aftershocks but hopefully not too many or too bad.

    Was nice bright sun here early but the clouds have now arrived but my thermometer still reads 84 so guess it will drop quickly before long.

  10. I love tulips but they have never done good in my yard. Something about tulips and daisies just makes a person happy.

  11. Good morning Mom and Jillybean!

    Mom, Are you busy working on planting all those good plants you purchased yesterday? Tulips do need a chilling period. That is for sure. Weather nice?

    Jillybean, tulips are so frustrating. You will be pleased with your daffys. Those are deer proof too and reliable!

    Hey you all, Jillybean is running a new contest at her blog. You can win a nice icecream maker! I told her I am out of the running since I just won a contest and a very nice dinner out with the family (still need to post it at some point), but you all need to visit her and see if any of your readers can win! I was so-hmmm how to put it?-smug when I told my friends "Hey! I won a $25 gift card from a fellow blogger!" You see, many folks in the "real" world just don't get the cyber world is also real and most I meet just don't get blogs. Blogs are really the way of the future. And the friends you can meet that ALL live in the real world just like everyone else?! Come on now. So anyhow, go visit Jillybean at Post-it Place found at Gotta get in the garden. Work is never done.

  12. Of course I remember Mom. I have been during the blooming season like 3 times. Love it! Some of the tulips are black and some are red. I think there might have been a yellow that stopped coming. They do dig theirs up every year! What work huh?

    Jillybean...If you plant the daffodils around the tulips deers tend to stay away since they don't like them

  13. Yup I saw the nice ice cream maker
    on jillbean's blog as I always read it but I never win anything.

    Nope not planting. Gotta rest today.

    I had never been on a blog site till I went on yours but now I love them. I think a lotta people think blogs are all full of nasty perverts. I know that is sorrta what I thought. LOL

  14. I recall my grandmother digging her tulip bulbs out of the ground and putting them in the refrigerator over winter...?...

    Anonymous, Thanks, that Sidekick is a little doll! Dont let him grow up!

    Jillybean, I need a jar of that barbecue sauce! A recipe that has been "past down" is well worth a donation from me...

  15. Hi Tina, what a nice post on tulips. I was so giddy with delight when I planted a mixed assortment in January, lol. I didn't think they would do anything this year since I was behind the game. But, they have gone on to prove me wrong --they are just gorgeous but the colors weren't what I expected. Yes, hubby bought them at Wallyworld, hehehe.
    Hi Jean --hope you catch up on your rest from your city adventure with shopping. It sounds like some seriously nice weather up your way.
    Hi Dawn, I'm with Skeeter on this one --the video game will be calling his name soon:) Kids can figure things out and make it work, hopefully he will heal fast though.
    Hi Skeeter, glad you enjoyed Sidekick --he is an absolute riot and all boy. He has an over abundance of energy which I wish he'd rub off on me somedays.
    Howdy to Lola and Nina --I'm sure you all are having some nice weather today and it's Friday which makes it even nicer. The start of the weekend here --and the kiddos finished up testing. I do believe we will get rain this weekend but I'm going to enjoy today --a little rain is great for the yard, right Tina?
    And, that quake this morning sure was something else --it was our first ever experience of such. We got all the kiddos downstairs and were ready to bolt outside, lol. Having two floors is great but with earthquakes, tornado warnings etc I think I'd like a ranch style home with a full basement instead of a two story with attic. Need to get back outside --hubby and I fixed the roof shed --yeah!! The wind tore up a few shingles and we replaced them --so now he is gone out hunting since I had him do handywork this morning. Have a great afternoon --see you all later.

  16. Hello All,
    Hope all are alright from the quake if you were in that position. A friend in Paris said he felt it enough that things were falling off the wall. Woke them up.

    I love tulips, but sadly they won't do anything here. Too hot.

    Sure hope Zach's hand gets better soon. Yes, he will figure out a way to play his games. Kids have a way of figuring out how to do what they want to. Too funny.

    Must check out the ice cream maker later when I have a little more time.

  17. Hey all, Raining here. A nice soft gentle rain.

    The survey ended. Looks like most thought 1-20% annuals was a good mix. I voted the the 21-40% with my choice being closer to 20% than 40. I do have a disclaimer, I have one garden that is seasonally all annuals. Orange cosmos. It is the garden with the red species tulips. Cosmos self seed and there is something good to be said about annuals which self seed since they behave more like perennials.

    I did note some frost damage to crepe myrtles, some privet and potatoes. That is ok. The J. Maples are fine.

    Just want to say hello to all. ttyl

  18. Rainy day in Georgia tomorrow morning, so they say. We took advantage of today's nice weather and went to a baseball game by the local Augusta Greenjackets. They lost but we enjoyed our time at the ball park!

    Hope to get some brush burn tomorrow if the fire pit does not fill up with water again...

  19. Hi Tina, informative post about the tulips. You have touched on all of our experience with them also. Your pink impression is a beauty, good to know it returns. You are wise to plant them in large numbers, nothing sadder than one or two tulips all by their lonesomes. We have had good luck with the species and greigiis. Next year we are trying the kaufmann types. I order from Van Engelen, good quality and lots of variety.

  20. Skeeter, All the flooding up here is receding, even after the rains yesterday. The receding waters have left nice silty soil for the farm fields. I can just feel the soil now..

    Frances, I do plant tulips in small groups sometimes but try to repeat them. This year they were big groups. Unfortunately, even in big groups next year it might look like I planted only one or two. The irony of it all! That is why I am having such a time with tulips. I may have purchased my species from Van Engelen, not sure. I think they had the best selection. I usually use Netherland Bulb Company. They have great prices on bulk, or I buy the markdowns.