Tulips in Maryland?

faerieannette(z7 MD)August 15, 2005

So after seeing all the lovely tulips this spring now that fall planting is coming I thought I would try them. The price is right! But then I heard that they are essentially annuals in that the donÂt usually bloom again?

I also heard that if you planted the bulbs a good 12 inches below the ground and made sure there was enough drainage that you could encourage them to be perennials.

I donÂt want to incur the expense if they are not going to rebloom. I discovered www.colorblends.com and thought that I would splurge on a mass planting. But now I am not so sure.

Will they come back? What ones are most likely to?

I found their "French blend" to be particularly beautiful.

Also what about after they bloom. Is there something I can plant with them that will be showy afterwards I was thinking Irises but will they hinder each others performance?

I like the look of a more natural garden but I cant seem to resist an enormous block of color like that. I just donÂt know what to do.

Should I just can the whole idea?

Also I should mention I was thinking of doing this in my front yard which is not full sun more like dappled sun all day with a blast of direct sun as it is setting.

Thanks for reading my post,


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creatrix(z7 VA)

The show may be a bit less the second year, but I think you could get up to three years out of them. At least that's what I usually get. Then they turn to 'mule ears'.

I do have two small clumps of red tulips that I did not plant, and we've been here 13 years now!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 8:38PM
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kimka(Zone 6B)

As you said, plant them deep and fertilize. Be sure and deadhead so the plant doesn't put any energy into seed making, and you should get three years out of tulips. But.. and its a great big BUT...the hardest part of growing tulips in the Mid-Atlantic is keeping the squirrels from eating the blubs especially right after you plant them.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 8:19AM
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lynnt(Z7 MD)

Tulips come from the mountains of Turkey, where they get rain in Spring and drought the rest of the year. So the way to get them to come back is to plant them someplace that mimics that environment: moist in Spring and until they're done blooming/their foliage naturally dies back, then parched. That keeps the metabolic level of the bulb low enough that it doesn't get roused/burn resources until next Spring.

How to do this? Plant your bulbs in unwatered hell-strips -- or put them in big pots that you can lift after bloom/foliage dieback and store dry in your basement or the like. I also find that the smaller species tulips do better than the traditional big ones do -- unless you go to Roozen's (or Merrifield) and get their giant bulbs -- those are twice the size, come in a limited range of colors (red or yellow only, I believe) and are guaranteed to bloom for more than one year. I planted Roozen's last year for the first time and they were HUGE and lovely -- I'll tell you how they do this next year.

Also, the squirrels in my neighborhood go after disturbed soil; in my experience they tend to ignore bulbs planted the year before. I've tried a number of techniques to get the little buggers to leave this year's plantings alone -- red pepper sprinkled on the ground only trained them to dig up anyplace marked with pepper dust! -- but the one success came from soaking bulbs in Ro-Pel. I'd leave one soaked bulb above ground; the squirrels tasted that, went "Feh!" and left the others alone.

The only bulbs that didn't work for were crocuses -- my squirrels so love crocus, they dug up the little wire-mesh cylinders I planted the bulbs in for protection and ran off with THOSE!


    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 1:36PM
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I plant mostly Darwin Hybrid tulips - they seem to be more reliably perennial for me than most of the other varieties. Unfortunately, though, DHs don't have as wide a palette of colors from which to choose.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 2:19PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

First, some tulips bloom reliably from one year to the next better than others so cultivar selection makes a BIG difference. If you want perennial tulips, do a little bit of research on which ones are the most reliable.

Second, they want well-drained soil that is rather dry in the summer, FULL SUN, and the foliage must be allowed to "ripen" naturally so they will store enough energy to bloom again next year. Even so, some will still have a tendency to split into smaller bulbs that produce leaves but no flowers in following years--so again, selection is important.

Oddly enough I have never had trouble with squirrels, although there are many in my neighborhood.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 2:50PM
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The species tulips aren't as dramatic, but I think they're more charming, and many have great foliage too. Also tend to bloom earlier, so the foliage isn't an eyesore in July. And they are completely reliable. I leave the blocks of tulip color to commercial buildings, and stick with the more subtle :) Not that your planting in bloom wouldn't be lovely, but in home gardens a large block of tulips with dieing foliage can be unsightly. Might be better to mix with perennials which would cover the foliage as it dies down.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 2:17PM
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faerieannette(z7 MD)

thank you everyone for your advice. I am going to save my money for something else.


    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 2:25PM
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Before you can the idea of tulips, you can educate yourself with a Brent and Becky's bulb catalog and therby spend your money wisely and have tulips.

Here is a link that might be useful: Brent and Becky's Bulbs

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 9:37PM
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