Tulips are not that easy to grow in our warm climate. They need 10 – 14 weeks of chilly weather to prepare to bloom, which we just don’t get here. Fortunately, with a little special handling, you can be successful getting tulips to bloom at home.
Buy tulip bulbs in the fall and leave them in a refrigerator for 8 – 10 weeks before you plant them, making sure to get rid of any soft or moldy bulbs. Planting them outside in early winter will give you enough natural chill time for spring blooms here. It also helps to plant them in a pot outside. The soil in a pot stays cooler than the ground.
Regarding care, tulips need a regular weekly drink of water, either from rain or hand watering. If you keep them partially shaded, the stems will be longer than if you plant them in full sun. Sudden swings in temperature (like what we experience in February and March) will hurry the blooms along, and you may still have a short stem
Harvest the blooms when they are still closed but showing some color. Pull the entire plant up, bulb and all. Tulips are effectively annuals here, so no need to leave the bulb behind. Trim the bulb off and put it in your compost bin along with any leaves that you want to remove. Rinse off all visible dirt. Place the stems immediately in water.
When selecting a vase for your tulips, keep in mind that they will continue to elongate in the vase. Tulips are very sensitive to light and will bend toward it, so you may want to turn the vase occasionally to keep them more upright.
You are invited to the farm this Wednesday and Thursday, February 13 and 14th from 11am to 1 pm for our pop-up tulip shop. Not the basic ones, but some fun specialty varieties. Take a break and come pick some up. They are $8 - $10 per bunch of 10 stems, depending on the variety. Give a Valentines Day gift to a loved one, a gal pal or yourself! Call ahead if you would like to pre-order or if you have any questions.
Hope to see you soon,