Gardener's Supply Company
Site Disclaimer:

This page was developed to share my gardening and landscaping experience with
others.  The site contains only general information on different plants.  I do not
guarantee all information to be accurate.  I do not accept any responsibility for
anyone's growing success.  Please consult with your plant or seed supplier for detailed
planting instructions.
General Information:

Tulips are a common spring bulb in many Ohio gardens.  They are usually considered
hardy in zones 3 to 8.  Tulips are available in most colors.  Some varieties have
multi-color and fringed petals.  They grow to a height of about 15 to 30 inches
depending on variety and growing conditions.  Tulips are planted in the fall and flower
mid to late spring.  They look better when planted in groups.  Tulips are slow to
propagate and tend to get smaller after the first year.  Therefore, you should not
over-space the bulbs, thinking they will "fill-in" anytime soon.  Tulips and other spring
bulbs have a short growing season.  I personally like to plant spring bulbs around
evergreens and other perennials.  This way I am not left with an empty patch come
summer time.  Some people will plant spring bulbs in the lawn, but they should not be
cut down until the leaves turn brown naturally.  It should be kept in mind that tulips
bloom later than other spring bulbs.  

Growth and Propagation of Tulips:

Tulips grow from bulbs which are normally imported from Holland.  They are planted in
the fall and bloom mid to late spring.  Tulips need a winter cool down period which is
why they are planted in the fall.  They should be planted in full sun if you want them to
come back as perennials.  The energy for next years flower must be collected and
stored this year.  The green leaves must be allowed to die back naturally.  Spent
flowers should be dead-headed to conserve the plants energy.  The plants and flowers
tend to come back a little smaller the following years if planted in less than ideal
growing conditions.  Some people will replace the bulbs each year to ensure maximum
flower size.  This sounds like a waste to me, unless you have poor growing conditions.  
You can always add new bulbs to get new varieties and replace any that may be lost for
one reason or another.  

Tulips are often planted in a large mass for public displays.  This will usually lead to
poor growing conditions.  Planting the bulbs on top of each other will give you a great
display the first year.  Over-crowding  the bulbs will result in few flowers the following
year.  The large mass of green leaves that remain once the flowers are spent are not
very attractive.  Therefore, most landscapers will rip out the bulbs once the flowers are
spent and plant the area with annuals.

Most tulip bulbs will multiply as long as they are alive and healthy.  The process is fairly
slow and you probably will not see additional flowers for 3 to 4 years.  Large bulbs that
are left in the ground will produce offsets in about a year.  The offsets will get larger
each year.  The offsets will take 2 or 3 years before they are large enough to produce
a flower.   Every 3 to 5 years the bulbs should be divided or they will crowd themselves.  
Division should be done in the summer after the plants go dormant.  The bulbs should
be dug up, separated and replanted.   Keep in mind that only the largest bulbs will
produce a flower the following spring.  Tulips can also be grown from seed.  This is
even slower than propagating from offsets.  Offsets will produce a flower that is the
same as the parent.  You never know what you are going to get from a seed, unless
you control the pollination process.   

There are several factors that will kill off a tulip patch.  The bulbs need well drained soil.
 Wet soil will rot the bulbs.  If you have wet summers you may wish to raise the bulbs
after they go dormant and replant them in the fall.  Squirrels, chipmunks, and field mice
are known to run off with the bulbs.  Once again, some people will raise the bulbs after
they go dormant and replant them in the fall.  This gives the critters less time to attack,
but also loosens up the soil which makes it easier for them to get the bulbs.  Some
people will coat the bulbs with a fungicide or animal repellent with mixed results.  Other
techniques include putting crushed sea shells or wire mesh over the bulbs to make it
harder to dig.  I plant my bulbs at the maximum depth of about 7 inches to the bottom of
the hole.  I use a bulb planter to loosen up as little soil as possible.  Note that the
ground must be prepared in advance.  I then let the neighborhood cats take care of the
rest.  The leaves must also receive enough sun or the bulbs will die out.  The leaves
must be allowed to die back naturally and the bulbs planted in a sunny location.  Bulb
fertilizer and general weeding also makes a difference.  Deer also like to eat tulips.  The
use of deer repellents, planting close to the house, or planting in fenced off areas may
help if deer are a problem.  
Gardening > Tulips