Tulip Timing and Preparing for Spring

The tulip bulbs went into the ground yesterday! Michelle and Marnie dug out a long trench 4-6 inches deep and placed the bulbs in rows. They will rest under the soil until they emerge in all their glory next spring!

There are several things that make tulips difficult to grow, number one being how delicious they are to wildlife. Squirrels and chipmunks will dig up tulip bulbs for a tasty snack. The best bet to deter them is to plant in late fall, after they have stashed the bulk of their nuts for the winter. Deer also find tulips delectable. When the leaves emerge in the spring, but before the flower stalks sprout, we cover them with row cover to keep them at bay.

The second consideration when growing tulips is moisture. Tulips are native to Central Asia, Turkey and parts of Southern Europe and do better in dry conditions. Too much moisture in the soil can lead to rotting bulbs.

Finally, tulips need to experience at least 12 to 14 weeks of temperatures below 55 degrees to bloom. That’s why we plant them in the fall! In warmers climates or if you miss the autumn planting you can purchase pre-chilled bulbs for a spring planting.

Tulips are a member of the Lily family, which contains around 75 species. It is estimated that they were domesticated by the Turks around 1000 A.D. and their pointed blooms feature prominently in Turkish artwork. During the 16th century in Istanbul they found prominence in the palace gardens. When they were introduced to the Netherlands in the 17th century it was quickly discovered that they grew very well in the flat, fertile lowlands. Their rarity and subsequent gain in popularity among the well to do lead to a rise in prices.

Varieties that were especially popular were ‘broken’ varieties where genetic variations caused by a mosaic virus led to petals with multiple colored streaks. At the peak of their fashion, tulips in the Netherlands were being bought, traded, and sold for more than the cost of a house! Eventually this speculative bubble burst, but it only diminished the popularity of tulips temporarily. To this day the Netherlands is the largest exporter of tulips and tulip bulbs and over 9 billion are produced each year.

We still have tulip bulbs in the farmstand if you’d like to have your own tulip bed! (And they won’t break the bank!) They will be available until the end of the month.

-The Cedar Circle Farm Team

P.S. We still have plenty of perennials available for fall planting. Get a head start on your spring landscaping now!

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