"Flowers heal me, tulips make me happy." Rebecca Wells
Indeed it’s true that tulips make us happy! They are one of the first bouquet blooms of the season, telling us that spring is truly here.
While tulips are classified as a perennial, it's a different matter to get them to behave that way. It all depends on your climate and the variety you're growing. Tulips are originally from the Himalayas and the steppes of Turkey in central Asia where the winters are very cold and the summers hot and dry. Getting tulips to not only return the next season, but also multiply means matching those climate conditions. Many gardeners, and especially us flower farmers, treat tulips as annuals and replant them each fall since the bulbs need a cold period of at least ten weeks. The variety is important as well. Darwin and Triumph varieties tend to be better at perennializing.
Its always fascinating to discover what a plant originally looked like before we humans started tinkering with it. In the case of wild or "species" tulips as they're called, they're shorter, maybe only 8" in height. Most species varieties have pointed petals. They re-bloom reliably, spread more every season, and best of all stay in bloom for up to four weeks. We planted T. clusiana three autumns ago and they developed into nice little stands of early dependable, easy to maintain garden color.
Tulips can be planted for naturalizing, rock gardens, forcing, landscape gardens and of course for cut flowers! Here's a link to a description of the different types.
But, back to reality and our current stars of Detroit Abloom. We absolutely fell in love with three varieties this season (so far!). Let me introduce you to the lovely Angelique. She's delicate in pink hues against creamy white, but produces strong straight stems. Her petals are soft and ruffly, resembling a peony bloom. It's no surprise that she is one of the most popular tulip varieties.
Our second favorite tulip this season was Exotic Emperor. We were anticipating him daily as he is an early bloomer and the first of our tulips. The Exotic Emperor is in the Fosteriana grouping. These tulips also known as Emperor tulips are usually the first tulips to bloom. They're also known for they're huge wide petals and striping. Fosterianas are extremely popular for landscaping in European gardens, where they come in vivid colors and bloom at the same time as daffodils.
Store-bought tulips usually only last 3-5 days in the vase. Our tulips, cut when just showing color or in the case of doubles just opening, last at least a week. Here's the Exotic Emperor at 9 days.
This lovely deep rose pink double tulip is called Aveyron. She has green markings on her outer petals and opens to a full peony-like blossom. She has sturdy stems and is long lasting in the vase. She's on our list for 2018!
If you aren't in love or fascinated by tulips yet, perhaps these amazing facts will sway you!
Did you know that tulip petals are edible? They have an oniony taste and during WWII when many people were starving, tulip petals were used as an onion replacement. It's hard to imagine, but people also made tulip bread and tulip wine.
The first striped tulips were found by Austrian Carolus Clusius about 1594. He determined that the stripes were caused by a virus. He labeled these as - "broken tulips". It was later discovered that the virus actually was not harmful.
The Dutch are responsible for the breeding of today's tulips and are the leading exporters of the bulbs - around 6 billion bulbs annually.
In the 1600's, a period known as "tulip mania" occurred, which is now seen as the first economic bubble collapse. At it's high point, bulbs were used as a form of currency and a single bulb was so valuable that you could buy a house with it.
Tulips are sweetly scented!
Last but not least, tulips grow after being cut! I mean they seriously grow! The petals elongate and the stems can continue to grow upwards to six inches.