Tulips flowers, which are perennial bulbs, come in many brilliants shades including red, orange, yellow, purple, pink, white and blended colors. When most people think of tulips, they picture those striking flowers known for blooming in Holland. Although tulips have been grown in the Netherlands as far back as the end of the sixteenth century, they didn't originate there. Tulips actually came from central Asia. They then spread to China, Mongolia and next to Europe. The Turks began cultivating tulips throughout Asia and Persia around 1000 A.D.
While some are large and used around shrubs or in flower beds, others are shorter and usually planted in rock gardens, patios or pathways. They can be star-shaped, oval, pointed, fringed, edged or rounded. According to the Iowa State University Extension, most tulips grow to only 4 to 12 inches high, as their growth can be hindered by so many other plants surrounding them.
Types of Exotic Species
Hybrid tulips are known to be weak and are difficult to establish, so many gardeners prefer tulip species (also called botanical species). Species tulips also return each year and multiply over time. A popular species tulip is the Blue-eyed Wildflower tulip, which grows to only 6 to 8 inches and produces exquisite white blooms with blue centers.
Lady Jane is an exceptionally stunning species tulip as it has different flower colors in one tulip. When a Lady Jane is closed, it's pink with a white stripe on the margins of its petals---but when it opens, the flower's pure white center is revealed.
Diseases and Pests
Common diseases that inflict tulips include gray mold and viruses. Tulips also suffer from rotting problems including bulb, stem and root-rot diseases.
Pests that bother tulips are aphids such as tulip bulb aphids, foxglove aphids, black bean aphids, green peach aphids and melon aphids. They also battle bulb flies, including the Narcissus bulb fly. Bulb and spider mites, snails and slugs, as well as foliage-feeding caterpillars such as the Omnivores leafier are other common pests.
The Backyard Gardener recommends planting tulips in the fall. These bulbs need time for resting so they can produce stunning flowers. Gardeners in colder climates should plant bulbs in early fall, while those living in more temperate or warmer regions can plant them at the end of autumn.
Besides looking breathtaking when grouped together in flower beds, tulips look even more dazzling when they're combined with other bulbs, perennials, annuals or shrubs. For the most dramatic effects, consider a plant's bloom season, height and color.
Because tulips can't grow well in hard-packed soil, it's important to loosen soil before planting tulip bulbs. The Backyard Gardener recommends measuring a tulip bulb's width and then multiplying this figure by three to find the proper planting depth.
Species tulips do better in rock gardens and need well-drained soil without much gravel and full sun exposure. Planting in raised beds or on gentle slops assures better drainage.