In the late 16th century Dutch professor of botany, Carolus Clusius, brought home from a collection of tulip seeds from Turkey. He raised bulbs from this stock and started a craze that has lasted until the present day. Within a few years 'Tulipmania' swept Holland and precious bulbs changed hands for hundreds of pounds and fortunes were wagered on new varieties.
Most popular were the striped or blotched tulip varieties that were created through viruses. Inevitably the frenzied speculation end but not before the tulip had become a firm favourite throughout Europe. Tulips are still widely grown and there are more than 100 species and 2000 varsities to enjoy.
Planting and care
You will need to take into consideration that the lighter the soil, the deeper the bulbs should be planted. On sandy soil plant the bulbs to a depth of 20 cm (8") whilst on heavy soils do not plant deeper than 15 cm (6").
To ensure easy lifting at the end of the season you may choose to line the planting hole with a bulb baskets or mesh. This means that you can lift the clump of bulbs by pulling gently on the edge of the basket.
At the end of the flowering period deadhead your tulips. Do not remove the fading yellow foliage as the nutrients from the leaves are being drawn back into the bulb to replenish the bulbs strength and ensure it blooms again the following year.
Do not leave bedding tulips in the ground as they will degenerate from year to year and will yield fewer and fewer flowers as time passes. Wait for the foliage to yellow before lifting and store in a dry place until autumn when you replant. You can lift tulips as soon as the flowers fade and replant in an out of the way area. Wild varieties can be left in the ground all year round.
If tulips fail to flower there are two possible causes. The young buds may have been destroyed by heavy frosts or the bulbs planted may have been very small and require time to develop before flowering. In which case fertilise well and inter plant with larger tulip bulbs to ensure a good display.
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