I have always grown tulips in pots. At least, I always start them off in pots – it’s easy to keep an eye on them and to judge how well they do and to see how much I like them. But every year, after they have flowered, there is the same old question of what to do next. I need the pots for my summer displays so do I lift the bulbs carefully, allowing the foliage to die back naturally, then let them dry out in the summer months in preparation for replanting in the autumn? Or do I find spaces in an already overcrowded border (again carefully preserving the by now less than enticing foliage) and see how they fare in the open garden?
Well, a few years ago I chose the latter option for my Turkestan tulips and they never looked back. This bulbous perennial is year-after-year reliable and a good naturaliser, so no wonder it was given the RHS’s award of garden merit. The narrowly strappy blue-grey leaves reveal stems which can each produce up to ten flower heads.
Native to south east Europe and central Asia, they just love early spring sunshine, and the ivory white flowers which have deep egg yolk yellow centres, open wider and flatter the sunnier it gets until it resembles a star shaped poached egg!
I have finally found a good use for those indestructible, ugly orange nets that citrus fruits are sold in. Perfect for storing bulbs in the summer if that’s the route you choose!
NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 inc P & P and is for sale in our online shop here.
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2 replies on “Tulipa turkestanica AGM”
I have gone a bit mad on spring bulbs in the bed overlooked by the family room. Snowdrops; muscari; daffs; tulips; hyacinth. Looks lovely but I’m dreading all those dying leaves! Can I dig them all up, dry them off in the greenhouse and overwinter them?
Hello Beryl, Louise here. First off, I think if you were to dig them all up and dry them off etc you’d be there forever! When you say you’ve gone a bit mad on spring bulbs, I imagine that you’ve put all these bulbs in quite recently?
What you need to do is to lift certain clumps of bulbs when they’ve finished flowering (and I would replant these elsewhere immediately), and plant some herbaceous perennials in those gaps. You make no mention of aspect, but I am thinking that this must be quite a sunny spot; there are so many summer perennials to choose from but I would avoid those such as phlox, asters, solidago etc which need dividing every few years as this will really disturb your bulbs. I might plant Hosta plantaginea which is one that is very tolerant of a sunny spot, also H ‘Honeybells’. here are many interesting sedum that would do the job well, hardy geraniums and euphorbia polychroma springs to mind, paeonies even, I could go on and on …..
If it’s a partially shady spot you’ll have to come back to me! Good luck!