There is a truly astounding number of tulip species, with enough varieties to make any flower enthusiast go crazy trying to decide which ones to put in their garden! Currently, there are about 3,000 registered varieties of tulips around the world. Some of the most common tulips include the Rembrandt tulips, Parrot tulips, Fosteriana tulips, Darwin hybrids, and Viridiflora tulips.
The word tulip originated from the Turkish word for turban. Understandably, as early as 1000 A.D, tulips were cultivated by the Turkish, but they were initially discovered as a wildflower growing in the Central regions of Asia.
By the late 16th century, tulips had crossed Turkey's borders and were introduced to the Netherlands and Western Europe for medicinal purposes. However, by the beginning of the 17th century, they were cultivated as garden decorations instead and quickly gained worth in trading value. The huge surge in demand for tulips occurred between late 1636 and early 1637, causing sellers to price them outrageously.
In Holland, some tulip bulbs were priced as high as the cost of a house! These prices stemmed from the hybridization and mutation of the original tulip plant by botanists.
Thankfully, the people of the Netherlands came to their senses and stopped buying these overly expensive bulbs, leading to a crash in the tulip market. Today, tulips remain a favourite of many gardeners, with plenty of varieties to choose from.
You'll know when you see a tulip due to its cup-shape, made of three petals and three sepals. Tulip colours are vast and range from yellow to orange, to purple and white. They typically grow from 6 inches to 2 feet, while their upright flower blooms in a single or double form. The shapes of these flowers vary from cups to goblets; some even have detailed profiles. Typically, a single tulip grows on each stem and consists of about two to six broad leaves per plant. However, this can change depending on the species.
Tulips do exceptionally well when planted in the autumn, usually 6 to 8 weeks before the ground gives in to frost. This is because the bulbs need time to get used to the soil. If you plant too early, it may lead to diseases. Forgetting this can be disastrous when taking care of tulips, so it is wise to keep this is mind.
Tulip bulbs do not care for excess water, but as soon as they are planted, you need to water them to trigger growth. Nonetheless, if it rains weekly where you live, you do not need to water the bulbs (unless there is a dry spell).
You can also include some sand or pine bark to the soil to help drainage (keep in mind that you don’t want too much water surrounding the bulb or root). Also, you should use compost annually to give the bulbs needed nutrients. Some pests and diseases to look out for include gray mold, bulb rot, snails, slugs, nematodes, squirrels, voles, and mice.
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By Miles Warner 01 October 2020