Fall is time to plant tulips for spring enjoyment

Rob Zimmer, Leader Columnist

Photo by Rob Zimmer Gardeners are dreaming of spring time and colorful tulips as October bulb planting season arrives.

Photo by Rob Zimmer Some of the most dramatic tulips are the lily-flowering varieties, with flaring blooms and pointed petals.

In October, the dreams of gardeners turn to spring. The promise of masses of beautiful color in a rainbow pallet throughout the yard and garden tantalizes gardeners at area garden centers that are now stocked with spring blooming bulbs, ready for fall planting.

Tulips are the traditional favorite of many gardeners, coming in all shapes, sizes, colors and growing heights. From 4-inch miniature tulips to those that may reach 3 feet in height, these spectacular, colorful bulbs symbolize spring time in the garden.

October into early November is prime time for planting tulip bulbs for a spring showcase of incredible beauty.

Planting tulips is easy. Simply dig a hole or use a bulb planter to a depth of 4 to 6 inches, depending upon the size of the bulb. Backfill and you’re done.

Like most spring blooming bulbs, you’ll get the biggest impact by planting tulips in masses, rather than single bulbs in a hole or single rows. To plant in masses, dig a trench or hole to your desired length and width and place the bulbs. Mass plantings may be single color or mixed colors and may also include other bulbs such as hyacinths, daffodils, fritillaria and others for a bouquet effect in spring.

Tulips come in a variety of flowering forms. Many gardeners prefer the traditional single tulips, with their egg-shaped buds and beautiful blooms in just about every color of the rainbow.

Double tulips feature blooms that resemble a peony or water lily, with extra layers of petals for a lush, beautiful look.

Lily flowering tulips feature wide open, flared petals with pointed edges that resemble a lily in bloom. These also come in just about every color of the rainbow.

The many varieties of miniature, or species, tulips add a unique beauty to the early spring garden. These tiny wonders feature blooms just 1 to 2 inches across that may grow just 4 to 6 inches high.

The fringed tulip family features petal edges that are elegantly feathered or fringed for a unique look. Fringed tulips may be either single or double blooming.

For the biggest, most flamboyant blooms, try the spectacular parrot tulips. A few of these may reach 10 inches across when fully open and feature elegantly ruffled, flared petals in a variety of colors and patterns.

Gardeners often fret that the fancy tulips they select often bloom for a year or two then fade away. The best tulips to naturalize in the garden, or reliably return year after year, are the single Darwin and Triumph tulips, as well as older, heirloom varieties such as Queen of the Night in deep blackish purple and Angelique in a blend of pink and white.

In some cases, digging, separating and moving the bulbs to a new location will get a few extra seasons out of them. This is best done in fall. Using the appropriate fertilizer may also help. Use a good bulb fertilizer for lush blooms, rather than a nitrogen-heavy mix that will produce lots of leaves but few blooms.

Find Rob Zimmer online at www.robzimmeroutdoors.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RobZimmerOutdoors. Listen to Outdoors with Rob Zimmer, from 4-5 p.m. Fridays and 7-8 a.m. Saturdays on WHBY.