Gardening No-No: Planting tulips in rows.

March 27, 2014

I've decided I have to start a blog series called "Gardening No-No". I'm witness to far, far too many hijackings of horticulture by those who obviously know not of what they do. First up in my series of "please don't do its" is THIS hot mess:

Tulip row

Don't do this.

Ok...really? And this is not an isolated incident. First off, don't plant tulips in rows. It's a Gardening No-No. Because LOOK AT IT. Next, please plant some color, like pansies or violas, on top or in front of your tulip bulbs. Or at least put down some mulch if you're not going to plant any color.

I assume that most people invest in tulips because they want them to look like this:

Tulip lightningsun

Do this: Tulip 'Lightning Sun' in my garden today

If that's what you want, then you're going to need to plant about 5x the tulip bulbs than you think you need. Always plant more than you think you need. Cluster them in clumps or large swaths for a more natural look.

Also, for anyone who isn't having a good tulip year....meaning they are blasting (blooming way too short), then the bottom line is you're probably not planting them deep enough. I've never had a bad tulip year in Dallas, or a bad year in any of the years I programmed all the display tuilps for the Dallas Arboretum. There are three main tricks to having beautiful tulips here in Texas:

1. You must purchase pre-vernalized (chilled) bulbs. Tulips require a vernalization to develop a flower bud. Most years, our soil never gets cold enough for long enough to acheive this chilling naturally. (This year, we got pretty chilly...I have 3 leftover tulips in the ground from last year that actually managed to bloom).

2. Don't plant them too early, or too late. If you're in N. Texas, that means optimal planting time is in December. Usually after Thansksgiving, but before the end of December. My "golden window" is right around the week of Christmas. Plant in January and you risk blasting or overall poor bloom vigor.

3. You must plant them DEEP.  3-4" is not deep enough. I plant mine a good 8" deep, sometimes 10" deep. They always bloom perfectly and on time. This is probably where most people slip up with tulips in warm climates.

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