When to plant tulips :
The richly-painted Tulip is a noble plant for the spring flower border, making grand breaks of colour. The May-bloomers are majestic plants, with thickets of luxuriant leaves, stems nearly as strong as those of Flag Irises, and huge, globular flowers of splendid colour and substance. The Tulip specialist can have some of his favourites in bloom throughout the whole of spring, for the earliest of the dwarf Dutch varieties begin flowering about Easter, and the Darwin and Cottage varieties last till June. There are, too, several pretty species, notably Clusiana, Gesneriana and its varieties (magnificent plants these), Leichtlini, Greigi, Linifolia, Macrospeila, Retroflexa, Sylvestris, and Vitellina. They are all spring bloomers, but the majority flower in May. The Parrot Tulips are a singular class, with their beaklike petals. The “Florist’s ” Tulips are a dying class; they are handsome flowers, with petals of great substance and beautiful colour-markings, but they are not, as a whole, suitable for giving beautiful blocks of colour, and are scarce and dear. The early Dutch Tulips are the most useful for pots, and they also come in well for beds. The May-bloomers (Darwin and Cottage) are the finest class for borders. The largest of the species, such as Gesneriana, are splendid for groups, but the smaller are best in the rock garden. The Parrots make pretty beds and border groups. The Hyacinth and Daffodil compost will suit pot Tulips perfectly well, and three bulbs per 5-inch pot will be a proper allowance. They should be plunged for a few weeks after potting, like Hyacinths. Early Dutch Tulips are also well adapted for cultivation in vases, like Daffodils, peat-moss fibre and shell being used in place of soil. When grown as garden plants they ought to be put in deep, fertile, friable soil, and covered about three inches deep. If possible, the groups should consist of at least six bulbs each, set nine inches apart.
Soil And Situation :
The best soil is formed of good turfy loam from a pasture. Some very old cow-dung, say two years old, and road scrapings, in the proportions of three or four barrow-fuls of the loam to one of the others. The best aspect is south-west; the beds should be upon an open space, eight yards at least from any wall, to avoid the reflection of the sun. The soil should be free from manure, rich, and rendered light by well working it.
Planting Tulips :
Tulips furnish one of the principal ornaments of the garden they are propagated by planting offsets from the bulbous roots, in common garden soil, either in autumn, or towards the end of December, according to their early or late periods of flowering; and, if such soil be changed every year, new varieties, both of single and double tulips, beautifully diversified with various colours, may easily be obtained: these plants require only to be sheltered, during the severity of winter; to be kept clear of weeds and to be watered occasionally in the long droughts of summer.
It can also propogated by seed. The ripeness of the tulip seed in the flower is indicated by the opening of the capsule, it is cut off a few inches below the head, and placed in a very dry situation, in order to insure its perfect maturity. This being accomplished, the seeds are taken out, and should be sown, about the middle of October, in a bed of well prepared earth, which has been passed through a coarse sieve, and covered about the eighth of an inch in depth with soil of a fine and light texture, which will allow the free vegetation of the seeds without in-crusting or becoming hard. The beds must be protected from sharp frosts by covering them with leaves or with mats, and likewise kept perfectly free from weeds. If these necessary precautions are attended to, the tulips will come up towards the end of February. From the size of a small pea in the first year, the roots will increase considerably during the two following seasons, and each time when the leaves fade, I spread over my seedlings about an inch in thickness of similarly prepared soil to that with which the seed was covered, being satisfied, that from the loss of time and the greater extent of land they will occupy by taking them up in the second year and replanting them, it is the better plan to allow them to remain till they have made their third growth.
Tulip Bulbs :
A tulip bulb of any color should be composed of six petals, three outer and three inner, which should be alternate, and lie close to each other; broad and round on the top, quite smooth, and of sufficient width to allow the edges to lie over each other when fully expanded. They should be firm in texture, having a slight swell towards the lower part of the midrib of the petal, which will enable it to retain its shape; this in a fully expanded flower should be semi-globular, the stalk being inserted in the pole, which should be a little depressed. The petals should be level on the top, the inner three of the same height as the outer; the latter should not be bent back, as is the, case in some flowers. The colour of the ground should be pure and rich, the base of the petals without stain, and the yellow ground should possess the same intensity of colour on the outer as on the inner side of the flower. In the three principal classes, namely, roses, bizards, and byblomens, the colours should be brilliant, and well defined. The feathered flower is most preferable; the feathers 38 should commence at the bottom of each petal, the deepest marking being on the top, and equal in every one.