Before we know it we will be seeing the welcome sign of spring – crocuses, tulips, and the like popping their heads from the warming ground. Planted in the fall, their arrival is long awaited – both for their beautiful colors and for the sign that they bring of the diminishing winter and arrival of warmer weather. With many of our clients, we encourage supplanting perennial and annual beds with bulbs in the fall. As these bulbs return year to year they naturalize into the garden and become part of the diversity of plant life in the space and add longer seasonal interest.
A couple of our favorite varieties are Peony tulips and Viridiflora tulips. Peony tulips, also sometimes known as Double Late Tulips, have blooms closely resembling peonies. These blooms last a bit longer than other tulip varieties and have large, full blooms that are lovely for the garden and as cut flowers. Peony tulips grow to 14″-22″, depending on the variety.
The Viridiflora tulip, also known as the ‘Green Tulip’, is another beautiful variety that adds an artistic look to the garden. They typically have yellow,
pink, orange, red blooms brushed with soft green markings and unusual designs.
September and October are the best months for planting bulbs. Ample time must be allowed for the bulbs to root before the ground freezes. Here in Aspen, this freezing can come on early in the winter, or even in late fall. Soil should be well drained, the best being a sandy loam. Bulbs are planted deeper than traditional seeds, with the growing tip pointed upwards. Depth is very important – as a general rule, this depth is four times the height of the bulb between the soil surface and the tip of the bulb. Fertilizer must also be present in the root zone to be effective – make sure to apply phosphorus fertilizer at planting time so it is available to the roots. Finally, water thoroughly after planting unless a freeze or heavy rains are on the immediate horizon.
As a general rule, though you may be tempted, try not to cut flowers from the garden for your vases inside – think about planting a separate cutting garden. Allow blooms to die, dead-head the flower to prevent it from going to seed, and then let the foliage die back naturally.
For more resources on planting bulbs in Colorado, try the Colorado State Extension page on bulbs and corms here.
Find another one of our favorite resources on bulbs, John Scheepers here.
And always consider us here at Alpine Design and Planning a resource – feel free to comment on this post or contact us via email for more questions or to find out how to get some tulips growing in your garden!