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All About Tulips

Native to Holland, the tulip has been hybridized and customized over the years so that it is not available in a myriad of different varieties and colors. These include deep, dark purples, brilliant reds, and pale, delicate pastels. Some are variegated or tipped in contrasting shades. The name is derived from a Turkish term meaning gauze or muslin. The tulip is a harbinger of spring, and fills gardens, beds, and yards with brilliant colors, making it a beloved bloom. In the language of flowers, the tulip represents love and devotion, making it a romantic gift to a lover or partner for Valentine’s Day, a birthday, or an anniversary.

Description of the Tulip

Tulip bulbs are planted before the first killing frost to come up the following spring. It is a perennial so it will come back year after year without needing to be replanted. The genus, “Tulipa,” is made up of 109 different species. The tulip features a single cup shaped flower with six petals that grows atop a long, thick stem. Because of its construction and because of the variety of colors, the tulip is ideal for cutting and placing in flower arrangements. Among the colors available, tulips may be red, purple, white, orange, and even green and black. Every year, there are new colors because horticulturalists and even hobbyists are constantly manipulating this flower to create new and different colors and styles.

Uses for Tulips

Tulips, in all their colorful beauty, will serve as the stars of your flower beds throughout the spring and early summer. They come up early and fill your garden with color while you wait for your summer perennials to come in. You might leave them there to shine, or you can cut them and bring them in; they keep well in a vase and will brighten any room. Tulips are often used in centerpieces, flower arrangements, and even bouquets. In fact, some brides prefer a few tulips with a simple ribbon around the stems over a big, bulky bouquet. They create a delicate look, and the bride is sure to find a color that works with her wedding colors. 

Growing the Tulip

Tulip bulbs should be planted in the fall for a spring floral show. They are fairly easy to grow, demanding an average amount of light and water. It is, however, important to keep them out of harsh, direct sunlight, as they are sensitive to damage from the sun. You can plant them singly but because they grow on a single stem, you will find that you get a more dramatic showing if you plant them in clumps of three or more. They are perennials, so they will come back year after year. When the bloom dies for the season, you will be tempted to cut back the plant. You should not cut back the plant until the stem and leaves have also faded; this will allow additional nutrients from the sun to move back into the bulb and ensure a healthy showing next season.