Spring-blooming and showy perennials

November 26, 2010

Many species of tulips originated in Turkey, eastern Europe, and ancient Persia, while others came from the steppes and mountains of central Asia or from Spain, Greece, Crete, and North Africa. They thrive in climates with long winters; cold, wet springs; and hot, dry summers.

If you live in the northern states of USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 6, just about any species tulip works for you. If you reside in the South, however, or mild-winter areas of the West and don't want to bother with putting your bulbs through a "chilling" period, plant species tulips that overwinter in Zones 8 through 10.

  • Planting: Your tulips will tolerate some shade, but for the best display, choose a sunny site. Soil should be either humus-rich or sandy loam with good drainage. Plant the bulbs about 4 inches deep, or three to four times the width of the bulb. Water well after planting.
  • After blooming: Encourage reseeding by leaving the faded flower heads on the plant. And, just as with other tulips, let the foliage die back naturally to recharge the bulbs.
  • Fertilizing: You don't need to fertilize bulbs the first year after planting, but in successive years, you can topdress in fall with compost, well-rotted manure, or a commercial organic fertilizer.

Species tulips are often listed in the "other" or "miscellaneous" sections of bulb catalogs.

Brent and Becky's Bulbs brentandbeckysbulbs.com
Dutch Gardens dutchgardens.com
John Scheepers johnscheepers.com
McClure & Zimmerman mzbulb.com
Old House Gardens oldhousegardens.com
Tulip World tulipworld.com

Next Up From Rodale's Organic Life

EPA Bans New Toxic Weedkiller
The "stacked" formula was designed to spray on GMO crops.
What Gardeners Really Want For The Holidays
Wrap up one of these sustainably-minded presents for the special grower in your life.
Where Backyard Birds Go During Winter
Fix up your yard to be hospitable to year-round avian visitors.