Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tulips on parade and under review

Well, they were a long time coming, but finally my tulips flowered! This year is my first for spring bulbs and I'm so pleased with them that I'll definitely be planting them again come the winter. The photos below are all from bulbs very kindly supplied gratis to me by Spalding Bulbs in return for blogging about them. They were all planted into pots in late November and you can read that post here.

I found they really needed no special care over the winter, save for the occasional picking out of little weeds that grew through the gravel mulch and by February, they'd all started to peek out at the surface.

Firstly the White Triumphator tulips – these were planted in an existing container of black lily grass and as planned they look very dramatic as a colour contrast. About 70% of the bulbs came up from those planted. They are said to grow to 60cm tall and did look a little lanky and floppy in my pot. That could have been because they weren't planted quite as deeply as recommended – due to the difficulties trying to interplant them into a shallow pot of  dense plants. The flowers are very elegant in shape and I am planning to thin out the grass and add a few more of the bulbs in the wintertime.

Parrot tulips have never been a particular favourite of mine but these ones may have changed my mind somewhat. I don't really like to see them in the ground as I think they look 'too cultivated' in a garden situation. But in pots I am happier to see them as part of a seasonal display. These are a compact height, flowered as a mix of white, red, yellow and purple and seem to be very popular with the bees!

And finally the Darwin hybrids – in a mix of yellow and red. 60cm of perfectly formed tulip with the classic bowl-shaped flower. About as perfect as nature (with man's intervention) can produce. Despite their relative tall stature, these have stood up well to the high winds of late.

There was a 4th variety in my package – Candy Kisses – but these I potted up and gave to a friend so I will have to check these out on my next visit.

Although I am not commenting on pricing of the bulbs or delivery charges, I can summarise that as far as delivery packaging and quality of bulbs received go I think Spalding score highly on all counts. I know some gardeners prefer to buy their tulips as single variety or colours but if I was looking for a mixture for a pot, I think I'd certainly pay their website a visit.

My bulb care instructions from now on are to deadhead them as they go over and give a liquid feed once a week for a month. I'm undecided between leaving them in the pots to flower again next year or emptying them out, drying the bulbs carefully and potting up again in winter. Does anyone have any recommendations on that front? Please though, no suggestions for planting them in the ground – I have no available space that the chickens do not have access to so they wouldn't stay in the ground for very long...


  1. It was my first year for tulips too, though I think I shall take a little more care in choosing varieties this autumn. Now I know I can grow them of course.

  2. I tend to leave bulbs in pots planted and just pop the pots out of sight for summer.

    I do plant tulips (sorry) in the garden which is where my Triumphator tulips are also with some black grass and in my blue and white border,