Top tips for growing tulips

Top tips for growing tulips

I'm standing in our tulip trial beds and we planted these particular tulips last November. Rule one with planting tulips is to plant them later than most autumn-planting/spring-flowering bulbs because you want to wipe out the tulip blight spores. You want two or three hard frosts before you plant them so November, or even December, is a fine time to plant tulips.

The second thing is ideally you should plant tulips in new ground that hasn't had tulips in it for three years, again because of the tulip blight which is a kind of fungus. Putting tulip bulbs in new ground is the ideal thing to do, but not all of us have the space to do so.

The third thing is tulips grow very well in pots because it's really good to give them new soil. What you want is either loam-based compost with some added grit or even multi-purpose compost that is peat free but with some manure and some goodness added.

Number four: when planting in the garden, what we tend to do in a cutting garden like this is we dig a trench six to eight inches deep and put at least two inches of grit in the bottom of the trench. After that, we add the tulip bulbs and space them at three to four inches apart, no closer because otherwise you might get tulip blight. Then we backfill with grit and soil mix and then you can plant lovely things like lettuce or wallflowers over the top.

The final thing is tulips prefer sun if possible but some will also grow in shade. You can also add lots of grit all around them to keep slugs at bay.

If you're planting through herbaceous plants and shrubs or through grass, a bulb planter is a brilliant idea. A bulb planter is like a massive apple corer and when you press it into the ground it cuts out a core of soil. Plop a little bit of either spent compost or grit into the bottom of the hole; add the tulip bulb and backfill with grit and compost just like you would in the trench. Using a bulb planter makes the process very quick because as you put it in it cuts the core, then when you cut the next core you can pop that over the top of the previous bulb. This means you can put in hundreds in less in an hour - they really are very quick and efficient tools.

Happy gardening,

Sarah

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