What should I be doing in the Garden this month?
Tulips will thrive in almost any type of soil where there is reasonable drainage. During the growing season they like plenty of moisture but the roots must not stand in water. Be careful not to feed tulips during the growing season as this will produce 'leggy' plants. Plant from October until late December 4 inches deep and approximately 5 to 6 inches apart.
Tulip failures are mostly due to damage by slugs and snails. Apply a slug repellant immediately after planting and repeat at monthly intervals until the plants stand well above the ground.
Note: If you are using one of the many available bulb planters be sure that the soil in the whole planting area is well worked to prevent any standing water at the bottom of the hole made by the planter.
Remove flower heads (deadheading) and let the plant die back before removing. This allows the food supply in the plant to swell and feed the main bulblet that will produce next year's flower.
It is important with tulips that all the dead foliage and petals are removed and not composted. Tulip plants can leave a disease, 'tulip fire' as they die off in late Spring.
Tulips for Naturalising
The small flowering tulip species and Darwin Hybrids naturalise easily and can be left undisturbed from one year to another, some seeding themselves freely. With some of the other types of tulip you may find that the second and subsequent years are not as good as the first depending on where the tulips are planted in your garden. This can be influenced by shade, drainage, planting depth so it is best to experiment. If this is the case we would recommend that you lift the tulips after the foliage has died back and store them until replanting the following Autumn.
Tulips in Containers and Pots
Tulips are well suited for growing in containers and provide a superb display provided a few basic principles are followed. Protect from severe frosts particularly when combined with penetrating winds. During these periods store in the garage, or wrap with sacking or straw and cover with horticultural fleece. It is essential during dry periods in the growing season that tulips are sufficiently watered. If not the results will be stunted and shrivelled flower heads.