Dirt on Gardening

Do you love tulips but hate the fact that they only seem to last for about one year of wonderful and glorious blooms?

If you are a tulip lover that wants tulips that come back year after year, you should consider planting a species tulip, Tulipa spp., this fall for bloom in the upcoming spring. When grown in the right conditions species tulips will form larger perennial clumps that return year after year.

Species tulips are not as tasty to voles and moles and other bulb eating creatures. Additionally, species tulips do very well in places with good drainage and dry summer weather. Because of their love for dry and hot summers, species tulips should do well in the Ozarks if they have been given a location with good drainage.

Species tulips should be planted in the Ozarks in September and October. Species tulips do require freezing temperatures to bloom successfully as the weather warms. Species tulips can be planted in containers, raised beds, or any bed with good drainage, and they prefer full sun.

Planting depth is four to six inches for species tulips with the basal plate or roots facing downward in the soil. Bulbs should be places four to six inches apart to allow plenty of room for the bulbs to naturalize over time.

Maintenance is minimal, but species tulip bulbs do like a sprinkling of a slow release 10-10-10 fertilizer in late summer. These tulips are not completely vole or mole proof, so some gardeners prefer to place their species bulbs in a wire cage prior to planting the bulbs.

Like other bulbs, species tulips should be allowed to die back to the ground to feed the bulb each year. The spent flower can be pinched off to also assist the bulb in maximum growth regeneration.

Brent and Becky’s Bulbs in Gloucester, Va., has many varieties of species tulips, www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com. Like their non-naturalizing cousins, species tulips come in a variety of colors. Species tulips also open in full sun and close in darkness or during overcast skies.

Species tulips are botanically referred to as Tulipa, so gardeners interested in growing species tulips should look for tulips by that name. There are over 100 species tulips that have been identified for cultivation. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. Many species tulips are also fragrant.

If you wish to have tulips bloom in your garden year after year, autumn is the time of year to spend some time planting for spring species tulip bloom.

Questions or comments related to gardening? Contact Joleen at missourigardener@hotmail.com

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