The tulip bulb has been a stealer of hearts, capture of spirits and the cause of incredible greed. In the 17th century at the height of tulipmania in Europe, a single tulip bulb was worth more than its own weight in gold.
Today the tulip bulb is still one of Holland’s largest exports. And springtime in Holland is so spectacular that each year, hundreds of thousands of people visit the tulip bulb fields just to witness these tulip bulbs at their vibrant and colorful best.
Dwarf tulip bulb species and their hybrids are found growing in regions with plentiful spring and winter rainfall and hot, dry summers. They grow in most types of soil but do best in well drained soil. So if you are planting your tulip bulbs in clay soil dig in lots of grit to provide the necessary drainage.
In areas that don’t experience severe winter cold the dwarf tulip bulb is reliably perennial. All they need to thrive well is full sun and well drained soil. Plant them and leave them alone and they will go on flowering year after year. Tulip bulbs should be planted in the fall and can be planted much later than other spring flowering bulbs. They should be planted 4 to 6 inches apart at a depth of about 2 to 3 times their height.
Loosen the soil lightly with a fork before planting your tulip bulbs and avoid fresh manure or any nitrogen fertilizers, as these encourage weak, soft growth that is susceptible to mould and mildew. Tulip bulbs that are lifted after flowering should be stored in a secure rodent free place, as mice love them. Mice will also dig up any tulip bulb planted too shallow.
The dwarf tulip bulb of the Batalinii Group AGM are among the most popular and are well suited to rockeries and growing in containers. They come in a range of lovely colors and produce lots of wonderful flowers year after year and increase naturally. ‘Bronze Charm’ with its delightful bronze colored flowers is one of the most popular tulip bulb, closely followed by ‘Bright Gem’. ‘Yellow Jewel’ has bright yellow flowers from April to May.
Another very popular dwarf tulip bulb is the early flowering species tulipa kaufmanniana with creamy yellow flowers stained red on the outer petals. Hybrids in this group can be found in a great range of colors.
Another great favorite and a very easy tulip bulb to grow is ‘Red Riding Hood’ which produces leaves with red markings and small but very beautiful, simple red flowers.
Among the taller tulip bulb varieties ‘Sweetheart’ has soft lemon yellow flowers and ‘Red Emperor’ is a brilliant scarlet. Both varieties will grow up to 20 inches tall.
‘Queen of the Night’ is the very darkest tulip bulb ever produced with rich, velvety, intriguingly beautiful, exotic dark purple flowers up to 24 inches tall. It makes a spectacularly bold statement in any garden.
In fact all tulip bulbs look spectacular planted in large single color drifts. They also combine well when mixed with winter flowering pansies. This combination is particularly suitable for containers.
In large containers tulips bulbs planted with hyacinths works particularly well as the hyacinths provide a delightful scent early in the year.
Most varieties of tulip bulb come in a wide range of vibrant colors that simply light up the spring garden as no other flower can.