Cultivation of Tulips
Tulips are some of the most easily cultivated of the spring bulbs in the garden, they are less easy to cultivate indoors, but only because they are rather exacting in the matter of watering and heating. They do not like a check to their growth through overwatering or under-watering or from sudden changes of temperature at any period and as it is difficult to maintain a very even temperature in an ordinary living-room, failures are frequent whenare cultivated by the novice. If, however, the amateur gardener wishes to grow them for home decoration he can do so quite satisfactorily in one of two ways. He can either grow the tulips in deep boxes of under glass (in a cold frame if he has no greenhouse) until the flowers are just beginning to turn colour, and then carefully pot them up in ornamental pots or bowls for indoor decoration. Or if he prefers he can grow them in exactly the same way as Hyacinths and Daffodils in soil or fibre, but keep the bowls or pots in an unheated room throughout as in the case of growing Crocus and Scillas. Either method will avoid the alternating heat and cold of the living-room.
Tulips in the Garden
For outdoor culture Tulips are grown in ordinary garden soil, not freshly manured, but reasonably well supplied with plant food. Soil which has been manured for the previous crop, for instance, wherehave been grown during the summer, is ideal. If there is any doubt about the fertility of the soil it can be deeply dug, mixing in bone-meal at the rate of 4 oz. per square yard. A dressing of lime over the surface should be given before any planting is done. The gardener’s method of adding 1 in. depth of sand over the surface of formal beds before planting bulbs, is especially useful in the case of tulips, who do like to have the base of each bulb resting on sand.
Planting should be done with a trowel, and novices will do well to err on the side of deep planting rather than shallow planting. Tulips are planted rather late in the year to discourage them from sending up leaves before the worst of the frosts are over. Foliage appearing too boon is liable to be damaged and sometimes the effect of the plants is completely ruined.
None of the tulips need any support although certain of the Parrot Tulips are inclined to bend their stems and therefore look untidy. These should, therefore, be grown in rather informal parts of the garden, such as pockets in the rockery (or in hanging baskets in the greenhouse). All the other classes of tulips hold their heads erect without any artificial support. Nothing is better for formal planting than a mass of tulips because if varieties are chosen with care they present a perfectly even appearance, all growing the same height, and flowering at the same time. If tulips are used alone in the beds, they should be set out about 4 in. deep, that is, with 4 in. of soil (over the bulb) and 6 in. apart. A good mulch of well-decayed manure all over the surface of the bed, after planting, shelters the young growing tops.
After flowering, tulips must be allowed to die down naturally if they are to replenish the store of food in the bulbs for another season’s display. If it is impossible to leave them where they have been grown during the spring, as in the case of small geometrical beds, the tulips can be lifted and transplanted to some other part of the garden. In any case the tulips should be lifted out of the soil, and dried and cleaned, as soon as the foliage has completely finished its season of growth and turned yellow. Do not leave them to bake in too bright sunshine, but let them lie on the surface of the soil for about an hour or two after lifting, then rub off the soil and store the bulbs away in clean dry sand until they are wanted for replanting. The reason why lifting tulips is so important, is because otherwise they begin to grow too early in the season, and their foliage then becomes damaged by winter frosts. A few, however, such as some of the Darwins and the late Cottage Tulips, do not seem to mind if they are left to grow on year after year in the same position.
Like the Daffodils, Tulips in bedding schemes are really best associated with some sort of dwarfsuch as Forget-me-nots, Polyanthus, Arabis, Aubrietia, or Alyssum. Designs of suitable bedding schemes can be worked out employing Tulips of various colours in this way.