Myth busted – tulips don’t last long

It is general knowledge that, although daffodils will last for years in the garden, tulips are transient. They give you a burst of spring colour but then they fade away. Part of this is down to the way tulips grow. The bulb you plant disappears and is replaced by several smaller ones and if none is big enough to bloom then you get no flowers the next spring. And if there are several bulbs competing for room in the soil, none will get large enough to bloom so all you get is leaves. That is one reason why it is standard practice to lift tulips each year.

But not all tulips are the same. I have said before that I find that greigii and kaumanniana tulips are often pretty perennial with me and that, in general, Single early tulips are among the worst. But I thought it worth showing some pics of a couple of tulips in the garden. Above and below are some tulips that have been in this bed for at least ten years. They have never been lifted or touched in any way. It is Tulipa praestans ‘Fusilier’ which is a pretty tulip with slightly furry, greyish leaves and scarlet flowers. On big bulbs there should be several flowers per stem but hey – I can’t complain at the present display. The hyacinths have been in just as long. It is worth saying that this is a dry bed, raised about 60cm and the main plants in it are a myrtle and an olive so it is really baked in summer. That may be the reason why the tulips have done so well.

But below is another tulip that has been planted just as long and growing in the normal soil. I say ‘normal’ but my soil is pretty light, but over clay, and this is a partly sunny spot at the base of a hibiscus. Again, it gets pretty dry in summer but is moist right now. These are ‘Queen of Sheba’ lily-flowered tulips and although each original bulb is now a cluster, at least one each year is big enough to bloom.


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4 Comments on “Myth busted – tulips don’t last long”

  1. derrickjknight
    March 31, 2017 at 10:20 am #

    Thanks, Geoff, for this useful information, which explains why they don’t come up again in pots.

  2. Meriel Murdock
    April 1, 2017 at 10:01 am #

    Derrick, I would love to be able to send you a photo of tulips in pots from last year & the year before. Previously I threw them out after the first year but never got around to it. They are terrific, packed with flowers. My patio is awash with tulips and I still have this years lot to come! Admittedly my pot numbers are stretched to the limit but if you can spare some it’s worth a try. They were stored in a cool shady spot. In the ground, the orange lily flowered ‘Ballerina’ seems to last the years in spite of deer decimation some years.

  3. Lucy M. Clark
    April 4, 2017 at 11:11 am #

    I have also grown flowers in my garden and It is very difficult to maintain, It needs regular water either in morning or evening.

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