There's nothing like the bright, colorful display of tulips in the spring. After a long, cold winter, they are a welcome sight to those of us who live in the Midwest. Since they are produced from a bulb planted in the fall, they require little attention from us when they first pop up. Our only regret is that they don't last longer.
Fortunately, there are many different varieties of tulips. Some are early bloomers, some middle, and some late. If we're lucky, we're able to enjoy them until other seasonal flowers begin to appear.
In addition to differences in blooming times, tulips also come in different sizes. They range from a height of 5 or 6 inches to as tall as 32 inches. And, of course, we have all seen the many colors available in today's market. Some people prefer to have several different colors mixed together, while others keep it simple with one or two varieties.
It is relatively easy to grow tulips. First, the bulbs need to be planted in the fall, in loose, moist soil that drains well. Depending on the size of the bulb, they should be planted about 4 inches deep and spaced 4 or 5 inches apart. In order to prevent rot, give them a couple of weeks to get established before watering them. Larger bulbs seem to produce better blooms and last more seasons. After they have finished blooming, you can dig them up and separate them if you wish, in order to produce more flowers. Although some varieties will bloom up to four seasons, others may not be as spectacular after the first year. You can always add new bulbs every fall. However, you may want to dig them up after they have finished blooming, and replant in the fall. Before doing this, it is a good idea to remove the dead flower, and allow the plant to die back. Since tulips are susceptible to disease, remove and destroy (rather than compost) all the dead foliage.
Origin of tulips
Everyone always assumes that the tulip originated in the Netherlands. In fact, they were first cultivated in Turkey, where they received their name from the Turkish word for turban. They were later brought to the Netherlands, and became the major industry they remain to this day.