Home My garden Planting tulip bulbs: better late than never

Planting tulip bulbs: better late than never

Tulip pots fully planted up
Tulip pots fully planted up

Blog: investing in spring colour…

This autumn/early winter has been a tale of catch-up (I’m getting there, see my previous post on cleaning the conservatory) but there’s still a lot to do, despite my self-sabotaging behaviour.

This week’s pressing job was to get the tulip bulbs in. As usual, I fell for a bargain bundle in a sale – that’s the benefit of buying them late – you’ll save tons.

Out I went to plant, put my hand into my bag of tools… and stabbed my thumb on the open blade of the secateurs. My, did it bleed! Everything stopped for four days until the cut healed enough to get back outside.

Killing off the tulip fire virus

Planting tulips late in the season has another bonus – the low temperatures in November and December should kill off the tulip fire virus if you have it in your area.

I grow my tulips in pots, as they really don’t like the heavy clay in my garden. As I like to reuse whenever possible, I plant the bulbs in the used tomato and annual compost from this year.

If you’re reusing compost, remove any old plant matter (rootballs, etc) and check for pests, such as vine weevil grubs. Presuming it’s all clear, replenish the missing nutrients with a general-purpose fertiliser such as Growmore.

Reusing old compost

If you’re using them as an annual, which I tend to do (unless they are species tulips, which naturalise), only use the compost once. I then use it as a mulch to deter weeds in the main long bed.

What did I choose? Unusually for me, the majority of the bulbs are a mixed box of 150 Triumph tulips, flowering April/May. They grow about 50cm tall and are quite weather-resistant. Plant them 10-15cm deep.

I’ve planted these in a collection of zinc pots which I’ll see from my office. Maybe it was the state of the world but I just felt like I needed something bright and cheerful to look forward to – damn taste!

Tulips on a more tasteful note

On a more refined note, I also bought 30 bulbs of Salmon Dynasty and 36 bulbs of a ‘designer tulip blend’ Sunset Skies, which will end up being moved around the pond.

Salmon Dynasty is creamy yellow flushing salmon with a soft blush of pink, on a base of ivory to primrose yellow. As it matures, the colours change and intensify. Flowering April-May, it reaches 45cm in height, plant 10cm deep.

Sunset Skies is a mix of blue and sunset shaded tulips (not my usual thing to buy a mix but hey, they were cheap).

Wrapped up against the cold on a freezing cold day (I wore two pairs of trousers), the job is done… always something to look forward to in gardening!

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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