Tulips will thrive in almost any type of soil where there is reasonable drainage. During the growing season they like plenty of moisture but the roots must not stand in water. Be careful not to feed tulips during the growing season as this will produce 'leggy' plants.
Plant during September and until late December. Place in clusters 10cms deep and approximately 10cms apart.
Tulip are susceptible to damage by slugs and snails. Apply a slug repellent immediately after planting and repeat at monthly intervals until the plants stand well above the ground.
Remove flower heads (deadheading) and let the plant die back before removing. This allows the food supply in the plant to swell and feed the main bulblet that will produce next year's flower.
The dead tulip foliage and petals should be removed and not composted. Tulip plants can carry the disease 'tulip fire' as they die off in late spring.
History of Dutch Tulips
Widely available at modest prices today, tulips and tulip bulbs are still closely associated with the Netherlands. However, the tulip is not a native Dutch bulb.
Europeans saw the tulip first in Turkey. Most of these tulips probably originated in areas around the Black Sea, in the Crimea, and in the steppes to the north of the Caucasus.
At first, in the 1560s, trade and diplomatic interaction allowed a small number of tulips and tulip bulbs to be imported into Europe. In this early stage, tulip ownership was primarily limited to wealthy nobles and scholars. Antwerp, Brussels, Augsburg, Paris, and Prague are among some of the cities where such tulips first began to circulate.
The tulip was introduced to the Netherlands in 1593.
The Dutch Tulip Bulb Today
Dutch tulip growers dominate the world tulip bulb industry. There are 10,000 hectares of tulip bulbs grown in the Netherlands. Seventy per cent of the tulip bulbs cultivated are forced for flowers the remaining 30% are raised as bulk tulips for gardens.
The average size of a tulip bulb growing Dutch farm is 15 hectares. Tulip bulbs are rotated with other bulb crops, vegetables and pasture.
Bulk tulips are shipped over the world to wholesale tulip merchants.
The Wholesale Tulip Bulb Market
The world market for tulip bulbs has been buoyant for the past ten years. Bulk tulip bulb production has been increasing at the rate of 6-8% per annum and the wholesale tulips market has expanded in line with this growth. In the Netherlands three quarters of the total production of tulip bulbs are exported, with the highest percentage going to the United States followed by Germany.
The very best of soils are required to grow good crops of tulips. A good depth of soil reasonably free from stones and a pH of 6.5 is necessary. Adequate moisture retention in April, May and June is essential
Planting takes place from mid-October to early November when soil conditions are suitable. The normal tulip crop cycle lasts for nine months, planting in October/early November with harvesting the following June/July.
The tulip bulbs are planted either on drills or in a bed system. The size of the tulip bulb planted (measured in cm. around the circumference) usually varies from 7-10 cm.