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Vermont Garden Journal: Species Tulip

10/19/12 5:55PM By Charlie Nardozzi
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I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. If you happen to be wandering the mountainous regions of Turkey in spring, you may notice small wildflowers that look oddly familiar. The species tulip originated from this region of the world and in the 1600s was used by the Dutch to breed the now famous large flowered tulips we all know and love.

While the hybrid tulips are beautiful, I like a perennial bulb for their low maintenance and small, unusually colorful flowers. Hybrid tulips sure put on a show, but after a few years they peter out. Species tulips, in contrast, naturalize and spread when happy and consistently flower every year for you.

Now is the time to plant your spring flowering bulbs such as tulips. While not as widely available as hybrid tulips, species or botanical tulips are worth searching for. Species tulips usually grow less than 12 inches tall and many have bright cup-shaped flowers and sometimes colorful foliage. Here are a few  I really like.

'Lilac Wonder' features grass-like foliage and pink flowers with a dash of yellow in the center. 'Little Princess' species tulip looks like a wild poppy with its scarlet red flowers and black base. Tarda has a tall flower stalk, like a hybrid tulip, but has smaller flowers with alternating red and yellow stripes.  'Little Beauty' species tulip only grows 4 to 6 inches tall, but has to-die-for colorful flowers with reddish pink petals and a bluish colored heart.  

When growing species tulips, select a well drained location that in full sun in spring. Amend the soil with compost and plant 2 to 3 times the height of the bulb deep. Plant in tightly packed groups for a stronger visual effect.

Now for this week's tip, dig and pot up a few parsley plants from the garden for fall use. Parsley is a tough plant and will survive indoors for a few months yielding lots of tasty greens. Once it's spent toss it in the compost.
Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about protecting roses in winter. For now, I'll be seeing you in the garden!

Resources:
Species Tulips
Botanical Tulips


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