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Intriguedbybonsai
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Joined: Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:03 pm
Location: Escondido, CA (USDA Zone 9-10)

Tulips

I bought some tulips for my girlfriend this Valentine's day. They came about 4 or 5 to a pot with soil. I figured once Valentine's day is over I could to plant them in a larger pot, and place them outside. I've never planted tulips before. Is there anything specific I should know? I live in Zone 9 if that helps.

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Kisal
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Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 1:04 am
Location: Oregon

Leave them in the pot they came in. Put the pot outside in the spring, after all danger of frost is past. (Since there probably is little or no frost in your area, I would move the container outside when night temperatures stay above 40º.) Add a little fertilizer ... bone meal is kind of traditional for bulbs, but any decent flower fertilizer will be okay, I think ... and keep the soil moist until the leaves turn yellow and die down.

Then, you can dig up the bulbs and allow them to dry in a shady area. Clean them off and check for soft spots or other damage. Discard any that aren't firm. Store them in paper bags or a small box at 40º to 45º F for at least 6 to 8 weeks. Don't let the bulbs touch each other. You can store them for months, if necessary, but they need to be planted before spring, in order to grow roots. Most refrigerator vegetable bins are the right temperature, but do not store them near apples. Apples produce a gas that can damage tulip bulbs.

After the chilling period, you can plant them in a larger container if you wish, although they could go right back in the same size container they were in before. You would only need a larger container if you were adding additional bulbs to those you started with.

The container grown tulips you buy this time of year have been forced, and that can exhaust the bulbs. You might not get flowers the second year. I routinely plant such bulbs in my flower beds outdoors, after the foliage dies down, and they do reasonably well. In your zone, they must be pre-chilled, though, so you would have to dig them up and go through the chilling routine and replanting every year. In zone 9, most people treat tulips as annuals, just buying new ones each year.

I lose some of the bulbs I try to salvage, but most of them do okay. They usually just send up leaves the first year or two after I put them in the ground, which feeds the bulb. After that, they almost always bloom for me, unless I accidentally planted them in a place that stays too wet. (Yeah, I've done that more than once! :lol: )
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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Intriguedbybonsai
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Posts: 262
Joined: Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:03 pm
Location: Escondido, CA (USDA Zone 9-10)

Thankyou! I'll try this. :D



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