BEST WAY TO GROW TULIPS

There are hundreds of types of tulips to choose from, singles, doubles, those with blotched flowers, feathery kinds, striped types and so on. I like to divide tulips arbitrarily into five groups: (1) Early Flowering, (2) The Mendels and Triumphs, (3) The Darwins, (4) The Old Fashioned tulips and (5) The Tulipa species. Tulips are very popular for bedding but they look well, too, when planted in clumps or drifts in a shrub border. Mauve coloured tulips, for instance, look well growing among lilacs. Tulips however are not the best of naturalizers and though they will put up with grass, they always prefer to grow in cultivated soil.

They are not particular as to the type of soil in which they grow but they hate waterlogged conditions. Prepare the ground properly as advised for hyacinths and see that the drainage is perfect. Plant the bulbs in October, or if they arrive earlier, late in September. Plant the early varieties 75 to 100 mm (3 to 4 in) deep, the later varieties say, 150 mm (6 in) down. The larger the bulb on the whole, the deeper it is possible to plant. The Kaufmannianas are usually planted 200 mm (8 in) deep except for in the case of very heavy soil. The bulbs can be as close as 150 to 175 mm (6 to 7 in) apart except in the case of parrot tulips, which because they are shy bloomers had better go in 100 mm (4 in) apart. See that the bulbs are carefully bedded in the bottom of the hole, carefully dug out with a trowel, and firm the ground well over the top.

Most tulips are lifted annually and once the bulbs have dried off properly they are replanted in a similar position. Never allow the seed pods to develop but do let the leaves die down naturally so that all the plant food in them may be passed back to the bulbs. The Kaufmannianas and Per-sicas should never be disturbed.

The early flowering tulips, both single and double, flower in April and May. The Darwins, breeders, double late and single late tulips, flower in May, the Mendel and Triumph tulips usually flower at the end of April and early May and the old-fashioned English tulips like the Bizarres, Rembrandts and Parrots flower late in May, followed as a rule by the Tulipa species.

There are a very large number of varieties, so please consult a good bulb catalogue.

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