The National Garden Bureau has put tulips in the spotlight this year, by declaring 2018 the Year of the Tulip. These cheery, easy-to-grow bulbs are already the world’s favorite spring flowers. Yet demand is still growing! According to Statistics Netherlands, commercial tulip bulb production reached an all-time high in 2017, with the number of tulips grown by Dutch farmers increasing by 18% to almost 2 billion bulbs per year.
Here are some ways you can help celebrate the Year of the Tulip and make the most of these colorful spring-blooming bulbs.
Buy Tulips as Cut Flowers
Tulips are available as cut flowers almost year-round. A bouquet of 10 or 20 stems is an inexpensive luxury and a sure way to lift your spirits and give your home a little extra sparkle. With so many colors to choose from, you can enjoy a new look every week. Everyone loves tulips, and this makes them a perfect “just because” gift for friends and family.
With proper care, a bouquet of tulips can give you 7 to 10 days of enjoyment. Make sure the flowers you purchase are still in tight bud and showing just a little color. When you get home, recut the stems by laying the bouquet on its side and making a diagonal cut with a sharp knife or scissors. Remove at least one-half inch of stem.
Place the bouquet into a squeaky-clean vase of lukewarm water. Do this quickly so the stems don’t have a chance to begin sealing over. If you wish, you may add a floral preservative to the water, following package directions for dilution rate. This will help inhibit bacterial growth that could clog the stems.
Tulips continue to grow after they have been cut, and over time the stems may lengthen by as much as 4″. If you wish, you can shorten the stems mid-week.
Decorate With Forced Tulips
Not everyone has the space or time for planting tulips. Fortunately, commercial growers are perfectly happy to do the work for you, so you can simply enjoy the fun. These days, it’s relatively easy to find pots of forced bulbs. Just bring them home, put them in a spot where there’s bright light, and enjoy watching them come into bloom.
You can also enjoy your potted tulips outdoors, as long as overnight temperatures are above 30 degrees. Put a pot of them near the front steps or slip them into a decorative container to enjoy on your deck or patio.
Keeping the plants cool and out of direct sunlight will extend the show. And don’t forget to water! After the flowers fade, you can add the spent tulip bulbs to your compost pile as they won’t bloom again.
For best results, purchase forced tulips that have been grown in their own pot. Containers that are planted with mix of different types of bulbs tend to be disappointing.
Visit a Tulip Festival This Spring
The National Garden Bureau has put together a list of spring Tulip Festivals that are being held around the country. Most of these are annual events with hundreds of thousands of bulbs in bloom. You’ll find that list HERE.
If you attend any of these festivals, please take some photos and tag them with #yearofthetulip and #tulipwatch to share the fun!
Enjoy Your Own Tulips
If you planted bulbs last fall, you can look forward to your own miniature tulip festival. Here are a couple quick tips.
When spring bulbs start growing, they need plenty of moisture. So if the weather is unusually dry, your tulips will appreciate some extra water. Warm weather causes tulip stems to lengthen, so depending on the temperature, your tulips may be slightly shorter or taller than usual.
If you are reluctant to cut your tulips for fear of diminishing the outdoor display, next year try planting the bulbs more densely than what’s recommended. Once the tulips are in bud and starting to show color, cut every third stem from within the bed — you’ll never miss them!
Most people grow tulips as annuals. This guarantees a great show of color and there’s no waiting around afterwards for the foliage to cure. When the flowers fade, simply dig out the old bulbs and plant fresh ones next fall.
Some types of tulips (Darwin Hybrids in particular) can be encouraged to rebloom as long as you provide the right growing conditions. The soil should be very well drained and stay warm and relatively dry from June through September. You’ll find more tulip-growing information HERE.
Plan Ahead for Fall Planting
Tulips bring so much joy for so little effort. A couple hundred tulips is all it takes to make your yard the cheeriest place around.
It’s never too early to start planning for next spring. You can reserve bulbs starting in late April for delivery in the fall. Certain varieties of tulips are always in short supply, so ordering early ensures you’ll get the ones you really want. Click HERE to see our selection.
When you’re putting together your order, choose tulips with different bloom times (early, mid and late season). This way you can enjoy a succession of flowers that lasts 4 to 6 weeks. Read Tulips by Bloom Time to learn more.
For more information about tulips and the Year of the Tulip celebration, visit the National Garden Bureau‘s website.