The genus tulipa, belonging to the Liliaceae family, includes about 150 spontaneous species from Central Asia, North Africa and Europe. Tulips are among the most widespread bulbous plants in gardens around the world, their beautiful spring bloom decorates the flowerbeds, and their flowers are grown to be used in all kinds of bouquets and bouquets; the cultivation of this bulbous plant, native to Asia in the Middle East, dates back to the late 1500s, when it was first introduced in central Europe, imported from Turkey, where it had been cultivated for centuries.
Nowadays, the country that produces the greatest number of tulips, and even new hybrids, is the Netherlands, of which the tulips they have been symbols for several decades. There are a few dozen botanical sepia of tulip, but in the garden the hybrid varieties are predominantly dwelling, of which there are thousands of them.
These are bulbs, of medium or large size, which bloom in spring; from each bulb a single stem is produced, which bears some large leaves and a single flower; the foliage of the tulips It is generally bluish green in color, and is rigid and fleshy, slightly leathery. The flowers are large, cup-shaped, with the center of the petals colored generally in black or other dark colors, creating a very evident eye. The flowers of tulip they exist of various shades, from pure white to violet, from red to orange; there are also varieties with frayed, sharp, variegated and striped petals.
It is a very common and widespread bulbous plant, cultivated in pot or in the open ground; many varieties are suitable for freezing, and can be left undisturbed for years in the same land.
|Ground||Clay soil garden lightened with peat|
|Type of plant||Trees or shrubs|
|Exposure||Half shade, evergreens|
|Flowering||February-May depending on the area and the varieties|
|Composting||February to June|
|Cutting, cleaning||June or in any case when the plant is completely dry|
The tulips appear to be rustic bulbs, which in Italy can be left in the soil even during the winter, and even during the summer; in fact the vegetative cycle of the plant is quite short: at the beginning of spring the bulbs begin to sprout, bloom in late spring, and in summer the leaves already dry up.
So the plants of tulip they need cultivation care only for a few months a year; this characteristic makes them suitable to be grown as annuals: at the end of the vegetative season, the bulbs can be unearthed, and stored in a dark, cool and dry place, until autumn, when they are generally buried.
These bulbous plants love a fresh and deep, fairly well-drained soil, to avoid that stagnant water favors the onset of fungal diseases, which could irreparably ruin the buli; to the common garden soil, universal soil is added, little sand to increase drainage, and little manure to enrich mineral salts; the tulip bulbs are buried at a depth equal to about twice their diameter, so that they are sheltered from the intense cold, but also from the summer heat.
Traditionally, tulips are placed on the ground in autumn, so that when spring comes they are already well established in the ground and can easily bloom; wanting most varieties can be left undisturbed in the flowerbeds for many years.
Watering is provided only when the soil is dry, and only in the period of aerial development of the plains, when therefore buds, flowers or leaves are present. The fertilizer is supplied at the end of winter and immediately after flowering.
The plant is formed by a white oval bulb covered with a brown film, usually 5-6 cm in diameter. In spring, the lance-shaped leaves first develop between 15 and 35 cm depending on the species, which originate from the base, and then, from the center, the flower. The plant can be altogether 20 to 50 cm high depending on the species.
There are varieties with single flowers and others that carry groups of flowers. These have the shape of an upturned bell and, in the current selections, have very different shapes and colors. The most common are white, red, pink, yellow and orange. However, there are also more particular colors such as very dark brown (from dealers referred to as "black") or some slight blue shades. Flowers are available with flamed, fringed and curled petals. Indeed it is one of the plants on which the varietal research is mostly triggered.
Propagate the tulips
If desired, it is possible to leave the tulips undisturbed in the ground for many years, but after 5-8 years, or even every year if they are planted in pots, it is good to unearth them, because these bulbous plants tend to produce small cloves, which with the passage of the years tend to swell and to form new plants.
They are dug up in the fall; the bulbs obtained are sorted by dividing them by measure: the large and puffy ones are placed in the most beautiful and decorative flowerbeds, because they will surely produce large colored flowers; the ruined or winged bulbs are destroyed, the small ones are instead placed in a cultivation area: these bulbs will hardly bloom, but their vegetation must be cured, to allow the bulbs to swell and flourish in the coming years.
So an old flowerbed of wild bulbs can be the source of new bulbs, which can be transplanted into a suitable position, and grown to get new tulip plants.
If we leave the tulips for a long time in a small flowerbed, or in a vase, with the passing of the years they tend to crowd the ground with bulbs and bulbils, filling all the available space; for this reason it happens that sometimes the bulbs do not find enough mineral salts in the narrow space that they have available, and therefore they tend to bloom again less and less.
Clear that if instead we have a nice plot available, where the bulbs can swell for undisturbed years, we can safely leave them at home for several years, without the blooms being affected; indeed, over the years we will have an ever-wider patch of flowers.
Tulips can also be propagated by seed, although a bulbillo will tend to bloom within a couple of years, while a plant obtained from seed could take up to 5-6 years before having a bulb large enough to carry the plant to bloom.
In addition to this, most commercially available tulips are sterile hybrids, and therefore do not produce fertile seeds.
Even if we had a home-grown tulip that produces seeds, the ease of hybridization between tulips, and the fact that most of the plants sold commercially, even if passed off as botanicals, are often hybrids, so it is not given to know which plant will be obtained from the seeds, which may have nothing to do with the mother plant.
The bubble of tulips
Tulip bulbs were introduced to Europe in the late 1500s; in the last decade of the 1500s in the Netherlands these bulbs were hybridized and produced, to be sold as luxury goods: owning a tulip was considered a statu symbol, almost as it is today to own a collector's Ferrari.
Over the years the bulbs became in great demand, and their prices soared to astronomical figures; from year to year the bulbs that would have been ready the following year were also sold, and a sort of tulip bag was activated.
Obviously, as the years passed, more varieties of bulbs, with flowers of more varied colors, became available; this rush to the bulb caused a crazy growth in their price: a single bulb could be sold even for ten times the amount of the salary of an average worker.
The most popular bulbs were those that produced striated flowers, obtained by infecting the bulb with the mosaic virus.
The bubble burst in 1637, when no buyer appeared at one of the bags of bulbs, which caused the price of bulbs to suddenly collapse (real or promised).
The bulbs are planted in autumn, so generally from October to November. It is important that temperatures are not higher because they could begin to vegetate. It is also necessary to avoid a frozen or too wet soil. The ideal depth is twice their height and the distance between one bulb and another is about 5 cm. They can therefore also be placed very close together.
The ideal exposure is full sun or partial shade. The shadow is not recommended more than anything else because the persistence of humidity in the ground can facilitate the rotting of the bulbs.
Usually if placed in the ground they do not need anything in particular. Once they have settled down, it is sufficient to wait until the following spring to see them appear and bloom.
It is very important not to cut the stem immediately after the spillage. In fact, the plant reabsorbs the liquids and substances that will be used to keep the bulb alive. If we cut it year after year we will see our plants lose their vitality. This is perhaps the only drawback of tulips: unfortunately you have to keep stems and flowers even if unsightly in the flowerbeds for a long time. They should be cut only when they are completely dry.
Tulips originate from rather dry and compact soils. Therefore they do not need important waterings. Usually there is the need to intervene only for vessels kept in areas sheltered from precipitation, but not frequently.
Tulip: The tulips in the Netherlands
Like lavender in Provence, tulips in the Netherlands offer a unique spectacle when the Dutch countryside blooms and fills with their color. If you would like to see this spectacle of nature live, in the car, on a motorcycle or in a camper van, here are some useful tips.
Where to go
Let's start with the where and we begin to say that the most spectacular area, for those who want to see expanses and stretches of flowering tulips, is undoubtedly the Northeast Polder. This area, part of the Flevoland area and also called "Kop van Noord-Holland", is the richest in terms of the number of hectares dedicated to tulip cultivation.
When to go
The best time to see the tulip show is from late March to early May. The spring temperatures favor the flowering of tulips and the climatic conditions, ideal both for the environment and for the growing medium, guarantee prolonged and rich blooms. Watch the Video