Spring is coming!!!! That is what the arrival of the spring bulbs tell us here at the Portland Nursery. When we are longing for some warm weather and sunshine, the bulbs give us hope that the dreary cold wet days of winter are coming to an end and spring is on its way.
Most bright and cheery of all are the spring tulips. In your garden, you will begin to see the green tips of the leaves and stems emerge from the wet ground and then from March through May the dazzling array of blooms will burst forth with the colors of spring. By thinking ahead and planting the bulbs in the fall, you will be rewarded with the tulip’s spring show.
If, however, bulb planting was forgotten, never fear, the Portland Nursery is here with the tulips to fill in those spots. We have an array of tulip bulbs (and other bulbs) all potted up and growing- ready to burst into your garden with spring color.
Tulips come in a dazzling variety of types, sizes, colors, shapes and bloom times. There are over 100 species found in the wild, but what is commonly known as the garden tulip has been in cultivation since the 1500s in Turkey. It was brought to Europe from the imperial courts of Turkey and has been a garden favorite since.
Tulips can be used massed together in garden beds to give bright swaths of color or put into containers for early spring color and a little pick-me-up by a front door. Smaller types of tulips go great in rock gardens or small containers. The larger sizes are impressive grouped together for spots of vibrant color.
Most varieties will also make great cut flowers for inside. The best time to plant your potted tulips is after their bloom time and once the foliage has withered. This ensures they can be planted at the appropriate depth. Potted tulips can also be planted before flowering. It is best to avoid planting them while they are in bloom because disturbing their roots will shorten the life of the flowers and you will not get to enjoy them for as long.
Tulips are classified according to their bloom time: early, mid-season, or late. In the Portland area their bloom season runs from March through May. The early tulips are called either ‘Single Early’ or ‘Double Early’ and will be the first to bloom. The mid-season tulips include the Triumph and the Darwin-hybrids.
Both of these are large flowered tulips on tall stems with a great variety of color. Within the late season tulips are found many of the fancy petaled types such as the lily-flowered, fringed, viridiflora (petals edged with green), and the parrot tulips.
There are also some species tulips that are great in the garden, such as the Greigii, Kaufmanniana, and Fosteriana tulips. The Greigii tulips are a mid-season tulip with big flowers on short stems with brown spotted leaves. The Kaufmanniana tulips, also called the water lily tulips, are early bloomers with three inch flowers that will open flat in the sun. The Fosteriana tulips bloom early with huge red blossoms on short stems.
Here at Portland Nursery we will be carrying a wide range of potted tulips this spring. We will have a rainbow of colors and types and even a few hybrids of the greigii and kaufmanniana species tulips. Come in and see what it is all about.
Common Name: Tulip
Origin: Most are found in Central Asia and west from there into Turkey and Southern Europe
Culture: Tulips like full sun when they are blooming. Rich, sandy soil is ideal but they will do well with any good, fast-draining soil.
They will perform poorly if they are planted in a spot where other tulips were recently growing, so choose a new site or replace the soil in that area.
Plant the bulbs in October and November once the soil has cooled, and you will be rewarded with a spring bonanza. Tulip bulbs are planted three times as deep as the bulbs are wide, so about 6-8 inches deep, with the pointed side up. Space them about 4-8 inches apart, depending on how big the plant will eventually get.
When planting them in containers, place the bulb with the flatter side towards the edge of the container so the foliage will grow out from the middle. This will encourage good air circulation and cut down on pest and disease problems.
Maintenance: Tulips are treated as an annual or a short-lived perennial because often after their first year the flowering declines. Once the flowering is in decline, it is recommended to replace the bulbs with new ones.
After bloom, the foliage will start to yellow and can be removed. An exception to this is the species tulips which keep blooming strong for many years. To encourage blooming from year to year, it is recommended to fertilize with a bulb food before blooming and let the foliage wither before removing it.
Another technique is to give the bulbs a summer dormancy period. To do this, dig the bulbs after the foliage has turned yellow and store in a cool dry place until it is time to plant them in the fall.
Pest and Diseases: Slugs can damage bulbs and emerging shoots. Aphids can attack the flower buds and distort the flowers. There is also a fungus called tulip fire that attacks the young roots and destroys the bulbs and emerging shoots. Dusting the bulbs with a sulphur fungicide before planting will help.