The Tulip, a stately splash of spring color, range from the traditional “Darwin”, to the extravagant “Flaming Parrot”. Tulips vary in size and shape from simple single-flowered varieties to the frilly pink “Angelique”. Tulips look their best when showcased in borders and beds or as the main feature in window boxes or pots. They also bloom well under trees. Planting Tulips in the shade helps the blooms to last longer. If you want to leave your tulips in the soil year after year, plant them 2-3 inches deeper than recommended. Plant the bulbs under seasonal growth such as deciduous trees so the shade is not too deep. In wooden tubs or terra-cotta pots, Tulips will offer a vibrant array of spring color on wooden deck's or patio. In rock gardens, add height above low-growing flowers. The hybrid “Red Emperor” or popular “Greenland” can be left in a single place for several years.
For large colorful groups, plant masses of showy Tulips together for a vibrant display or allow them to tower over other small spring flowers. Allow a plush carpet of vibrant blue Forget-me-nots to sweep around the feet of the watermelon pink “Clara Butt”. Tulips make ideal mates for Primulas, as they are available in similar vibrant hues. Combine the fiery orange “Daydream” with the fierce red “Abra”, and rustic amber yellow of “Golden Emperor” with Primulas for a hot-colored planting scheme.
Secrets to growing the Tulip are as follows: Buy Tulip bulbs in fall or pre-order from catalogs in spring or summer. When choosing bulbs, look for firm bulbs with no black spots or growths, and plant them as soon as possible. You want to avoid bulbs that are moldy and those that show the first signs of green shoots (early budding). Plant bulbs in a sunny or light shade and in warmer climate areas plant tulips in partial shade so that new blooms do not become overexposed to sun. You want to plant the bulbs in well-drained soil. If your soil's waterlogged, try mixing in some manure, fine gravel, or grit to help improve your tulips’ drainage capabilities. Buy Tulips that list “for naturalizing purposes” on the packaging. These bulbs can stay in the ground year round. During fall months, mix a low-grade nitrogen fertilizer to your potting soil to enhance the growth process.
To plant the bulbs you will need the following: Tulip bulbs, garden fork, coarse sand, and mulch. In the fall, dig a wide hole 6-8 inches deep. Add sand if drainage is poor to prevent the Tulip bulbs from rotting. Then plant the tulip bulbs in the designated hole. Make sure their tips are pointing up. After planting, replace the soil and pat it down firmly. Be careful not to shift the bulbs in the hole as they may grow sideways into the ground. Water tulip bulbs well after planting and cover with 2 inch mulch. Water your tulips regularly in dry areas as needed. Leave the foliage to die naturally and then dig up bulbs and storage them in a dry place for replanting in fall.