Fall planting of Tulips is a live-message of hope and trust in the future of spring so kudos to tulips for they keep us optimistic. Tulips with their intricate flowers that bloom in a full spectrum of colors (even a purple so dark it looks black) are loved by gardeners. Blessed are we who live in the northern hemisphere for tulips will not bloom in the warmer, southern gardens unless they are grown in a refrigerator. Tulips also prefer alkaline soils like soil around rocks,and their flowers are known to change colors when grown in acidic soils. Western gardens have exactly what tulips need, cold winters, up to ten-weeks for vernalization, and dry summers.
First-year tulips bulbs are grown so consistently in bulb size that when they bloom, that consistency gives a perfect planting where every bulb blooms the same size and at the same time. This is why long expanses of tulips are planted around commercial building and parks.
The sad part is that this delightful planting will not ever perform this way again. The reasons are many. First, most of the new hybrid tulips are not really perennials. Only the small early-blooming specie tulip bulbs like the Tulipa fosteriana or Emperors tulips and the late-blooming Darwins like the tall majestic Impressions are perennials, and even when they do return they will not show the perfect consistency as they did when they were new. Most tulips are a product of the Netherlands. The Dutch breeders must have a secret they guard of how they fill the bulbs’ internal food factory before they ship them so they will grow so perfect.
The following picture is an example of how Darwin, Samon,and Impression Tulips, return after several winters. It is commom knowledge that each bulb only produces one stem and one flower but these are all different sizes and colors from the original blooms. Some are striped with pale pinks and even reds. While they are pretty there is no comparison with the picture above of first year tulips. This is why commercial landscapers remove the tulip bulbs after they bloom and replace them with new ones the next fall.
The Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival
The Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival, which is an annual event in Lehi, Utah, is a great place to start if you have a “thing” for tulips and want to become a tulip expert. The festival showcases over 100 varieties with a total of about 250,000 bulbs planted annually. Spread throughout the 55-acre Ashton Gardens, the festival is re-designed each year so you’ll never see the same garden twice. On Fridays and Saturdays, the Festival adds music, vendors, and food in addition to garden demonstrations and tours.
In the following video, watch as P. Allen Smith from eHow Home shows off a stunning tulip bed, and learn how to expand your tulip season to last for a whole month, You’ll also learn a few tips for planting tulips in containers.