In many growing regions, the official start of the spring season also marks a time when snow begins to melt and temperatures finally start to warm. Most gardeners find themselves eager to venture outside, and once again begin to work the soil and plant flowers and vegetables. The same is very much true in my own growing zone, as the promise of sunshine and longer days draws me to begin a new season of cut flower gardening. I can’t help but feel overjoyed as the large planting of tulips in my garden burst into bloom.
Why Plant Tulips?
Here in my garden, early season tulips are among the very first flowers to begin blooming in the spring. Early blooming single and double varieties of tulip often begin to flower just as the calendar officially welcomes the spring season. In terms of color selection and versatility within already established flower beds and borders, the options are nearly limitless. After a few days of bloom, I often begin harvesting the tulips for use in cut flower arrangements. The large, fragrant flowers are especially popular when sold at the local farmer’s market or when donated to various non-profit organizations within the community.
Planning for Spring Tulips
Like most spring blooming bulbs, gardeners first need to consider whether or not tulips are an ideal candidate for their yards. Tulips require a certain amount of chill time, usually about 16 weeks, before they will bloom. This means that in warmer climates, you may need to chill bulbs in order to force them to flower. While the bulbs will rebloom in areas with specific growing conditions, I find that they nearly always behave as an annual flower here in my zone. Treating tulips as annual flowers means that I will have to invest in new bulbs and replant each fall.
It’s important to note that tulips are not the only spring flowering bulbs that can be planted as a means to welcome the changing seasons. Daffodils also bloom prolifically. Most will behave as perennials, and some may even multiply and naturalize within the landscape. Certain varieties of daffodil offer greater growing range, in terms of hardiness and length of the flowering period.
Regardless of the type of flower selected, planting flowering bulbs in the ornamental landscape and in a cut flower garden is one of my favorite ways to celebrate spring and the beauty of the growing season to come.