If you need a little dose of spring, please plan to attend the next meeting of the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society on Thursday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m. in the Sunshine Room at SIGN on North Street. We’ll be thinking ahead to our lushly growing gardens as we listen to our guest speaker Danielle Barrett from Western Alfalfa Milling in Norquay, telling us everything we need to know about fertilizing with alfalfa pellets. That’s Thursday, March 21 at 7:00 p.m.
We’re going to fast-forward our thinking to a couple months down the road, gardeners. Who knows, it might be even sooner; but let’s look ahead to when our tulips are coming up. As I was making my tea, getting ready to sit and chat with you, I was browsing through a book that I have told you about before: it’s called “Ortho Flower Problem Solver”, available through Meredith Books (meredithbooks.com). This great little book has information about all kinds of things that sprout, spread, or crawl onto our plants and cause us concern. The article that caught my eye today was “Few Or No Flowers On Bulbs”. I recall that last year, we did have a few tulips that had what appeared to be healthy green leaves, but the tulip blooms were kind of sad and sickly looking. I wasn’t sure why; what could go wrong with tulips?
Well, imagine that, there are all kinds of reasons, even though tulips are relatively easy care. The first reason listed was overcrowding. I knew that tulip bulbs produce more each year, and in my exuberance to have a full cluster of blooms, perhaps I planted the original bulbs too close together, not allowing for expansion. Now, several years later, that might be the issue. We are to divide bulbs every three years or so.
Another reason listed was too much shade, not a concern with our tulips, but something to keep in mind. The book says that tulips (and daffodils) might bloom well in the first year, but need sun for future blooms. They need at least four hours of full sun.
Here’s something to remember: the tulips won’t do well if they are overheated. If you buy them ahead of time and store them at warm temperatures, the flower embryo in the bulb dies. We are supposed to store our bulbs at cool temperatures in a well-ventilated spot.
For those of us who want to tidy up the garden after the tulips finish blooming, and cut back the foliage before it dries up on its own, we have to hold ourselves back and let the leaves turn yellow before we get rid of them. The leaves help build energy in the bulb for the next season.
Have you ever bought tulip bulbs that are small? They might produce only leaves for the first couple years until they grow big and strong like the other tulip bulbs. So we should be sure we purchase large bulbs, or be prepared to wait patiently for that first bloom.
We don’t have to worry about this item in our area, but tulips need at least 15 weeks of cool temperatures to bloom. So we can safely omit that stipulation off our list of “things that might go wrong with our tulips”!
Other points to consider are that tulips need nutrients, and that old beds of tulips do need to be replenished every now and then, because daughter bulbs will not provide many flowers.
So gardeners, let’s keep an eye on our tulips this spring, and if the blooms seem a little sparse, we will now know what to check to make them better for next year!
I know those tulips are out there somewhere, under those high drifts in our yard! But it won’t be long till we see those first shoots coming up! Let’s think positive! Have a great week!