A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Megan Rought, Ag Resource Specialist, BCCD
Tulips are a very well-known flower and a springtime favorite. I am always so excited to see the first tulip pop up through the ground and blossom into its bright springtime color. When the tulips start to blossom, you know spring is on the way. As many of you probably know, tulips are perennial flowers. That means they come back year after year with little to no maintenance. For many people this is the main reason they love tulips so much. So, for those of us without tulips already planted what is the proper way to plant them? It is really very easy! Tulips come in bulb form and are planted directly into the ground. Tulips should be planted in the fall because they need at least 6 weeks of cold weather to flower in the spring. When planting the bulbs, you can plant them very close together. So close that they are almost touching. Dig a 6-inch-deep hole and place the tulip bulb pointy side up. Cover the bulbs back up with soil and you are done. Easy right?
Now, most people who plant tulips do it as a part of their landscape to make the area around their house look pretty. But what if you want to cut these flowers and bring them inside your house too? First you will need to start by planting more tulips. Like I said previously, tulips can be planted very close together. To give you a little perspective on this, think about those whiskey barrel planters that you can buy at Walmart or Tractor Supply. Roughly 150 tulips can be grown in that whiskey barrel planter. Yes, 150 tulips! This makes mass growing tulips very easy because you don’t need a lot of space to plant them. If you decide to plant these tulips directly in the ground, it is recommended that you plant them in 3ft wide rows that are again 6 inches deep. To harvest your tulips, there are two different methods you can use. If you want your tulips to continue to grow back year after year, you will want to use the first method I will discuss later. If you want to harvest your tulips, but then store them for a later occasion or want them to have longer stems, then you will want to use the second method I will talk about coming up.
The first method is simply to just cut the tulip stem while leaving two leaves on the part of the stem that is still in the ground. This will allow the tulip to regrow year after year. When you use this method, you should plan to use your tulips right away because their vase life is limited. Tulips can usually survive 10 days in a vase if home grown; compared to the 4-5 days they would survive if purchased at the store. The second method is to pull the entire tulip out of the ground, bulb and all. Once you have pulled the tulip out of the ground, wrap the stems with paper and place it in the produce section of your fridge (as it is slightly warmer in this section). Tulips can be preserved in the fridge for a maximum of 14 days. When you are ready to use the tulips, cut the bulbs off as close to the bottom as you can and throw away the bulb. Sadly, now the bulb cannot be reused. If you do try to reuse the bulb it will only produce leaves and no flower. Once you have cut the bulb off the tulip, you will need to rehydrate the tulips by placing them in water for a few hours. Tulips are so easy to plant and harvest, so make sure that they are included in your choice of flowers at your house!
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District