You might think your gardening season is over, but if you want to have lots of colourful blooms next Spring, I’m happy to say, it’s not too late yet! December and January are great months for planning ahead and tidying up for next years growing season. But for now, let me tell you about another wonderful project to do with the kids this weekend. Unlike other spring bulbs, such as daffodils and crocuses, which should be planted in September and October, tulips can be planted in November and early December. In fact, late planting prevents a disease called tulip fire
You can get a wonderful selection of tulips, with fantastic colours. Why not let the kids pick their favourite colours. For those of you in Limerick, I would recommend you go to Fitzgerald’s Flowers, Ballysimon, for a great selection of tulips, I get mine there. They have a Christmas Shop too, so be prepared if you have a weakness for Christmas decorations!
You can plant tulips in the ground or in containers. Unlike daffodils, tulips generally only last one season, unless, they are planted in a very hot dry position. If you want your bulbs to bloom again the following year, you have to lift them once the leaves have turned yellow and dry out the bulbs, store them and replant again in November. For more detailed instructions, have a look at RHS tulip advice page.
In class this week, we planted up small 15cm pots, just enough room for 2 or 3 bulbs, so the kids got one each to take home. We planted a small tulip called ‘Red Riding Hood’, which will grow to a height or 30cm. If you are doing containers at home, you might like to try something a bit bigger. For example, blue glazed containers look great with white or red tulips. You could also use three matching pots in different sizes, choose your flower colours so that they won’t clash. If you want to remove your tulips before the leaves have turned yellow, place them on a tray with the soil around them and leave them until the have gone yellow before drying the bulbs off. That will free up your pots for summer bedding.
What you need, to do this at home.
Winter flowering bedding.
How to do it: Fill pot 1/3 with compost (or more depending on size of pot and bulb). Tulips should be planted 3 times their depth and twice their width apart. Add compost on top. Plant bulbs with pointed end up, roots down. Then plant your winter bedding; we have used winter pansies. Label your pot. Water and leave outside. You will have lovely tulips for April or May.
Tulips could also be added to winter containers. Shrubs such as ivy, euonymous, and skimmia give lovely winter colour. Grass such as carex is evergreen and looks great through the winter. Other winter bedding includes violas, primulas and cyclamen.