What should you be planting now? month by month advice
Having grown up with tulips all my life they are for me and I suspect most gardeners, the favourite spring flowering bulb. In spring the tulip stands supreme, with a wider colour scheme and longer flowering time than any of its challengers.
Amongst the most versatile are the double late or paeony flowered tulips. Mentioned in texts as early as 1613 these tulips are robust in habit and produce large globular flowers, greatly resembling the paeony. Suitable for planting in groups in the border they are also ideally suited for growing in containers and will provide a stunning flowering display from mid-April into May.
A particular favourite and one of our most popular tulips within this group is the ever irresistible Angelique. The outside petals are a blush pink, deepening with age to resemble appleblossom. When the flowers open during late April they display soft pink inner petals and a cream and yellow base. Truly stunning!
1. Tulips will invariably give their best display in their first flowering year. Buy new bulbs for your containers, show borders and high impact planting areas. The bulbs can be used in subsequent years for less prominent parts of the garden or even for cutting.
2. Tulips require a rich, well drained loam soil. Plant the bulbs at a depth of 5 inches as an average, an inch shallower in heavy clay soil and an inch deeper in light sandy soil.
3. Tulips should always be planted in well worked ground to allow for sufficient root growth. This is vital not only for successful flowering in the spring but also for the development of next years’ bulb. Use a wide trowel so that there are no air pockets beneath the bulb.
4. Remember that tulips are native to the mountain slopes and valleys of Turkey and Northern Persia. They experience cold winters followed by plenty of water from the melting snow caps in the spring and are then baked in the hot dry summer season when the bulbs are largely dormant. The closer we can replicate these conditions the better our tulips will do.
5. For tulips grown in containers use a soil based compost such as John Innes No2. It is vital that the soil is not allowed to dry out in the spring, if it does the tulips will be short and stunted and the flower bud will shrivel.