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PLSC 211



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Tulips come from the Family Liliaceae and the genus Tulipa. There are around eighty of these bulbous species. These plants are native to Asia and the Mediterranean region, and thousands of varieties are widely cultivated as garden flowers. The tulip is the national flower of Iran and Turkey, and tulip motifs are found prominently in Persian and Turkish folk arts. Tulip Festivals are held in the Netherlands and in North America every May.

Tulips are erect plants with long, broad, parallel-veined leaves and cup-shaped, solitary flowers beginning at the tip of the stem. The flowers can be either single or double and they can be found in a wide range of solid colors. Some cultivated tulips have a striped or variegated flower. This is primarily due to a viral infection of the bulb. Because of this, such striped varieties do not breed true from seed.

Tulips Tulips

Tulips cannot be grown in the open in tropical climates. This is because they require a cold winter season to grow successfully. That means you must plant before freezing weather, than get your great display in the spring weeks of color if you know your tulips and plant early and late ones, and a lot of middle-between. The ground should be moist when tulips are planted. You should make sure to give them two to four weeks to start their roots before they are watered. Tulips should not have too much moisture before they have made roots; this is because in that condition they are easy victims to rot or other infections.

The garden tulip was introduced into Western Europe from Constantinople in the 16th century and quickly achieved great popularity. Interest in tulip growing escalated quickly, especially in Holland, where it developed by 1634 into a rage called tulipomania. Wild speculation in tulip stock followed, and enormous prices were paid for single bulbs. After many people had gone bankrupt after buying a lot of single bulbs, the crisis was ended by government regulation of the tulip trade. Tulip growing eventually became established as an important Dutch industry, and tulip bulbs are still a major export of the Netherlands. In the United States tulips are grown commercially in Michigan and Washington.

There is an interesting idea of creating a black tulip. The idea of a black tulip came from the historical romance by Alexandre Dumas, 1850, called The Black Tulip. Because of this, the city of Haarlem has an outstanding reward for the first grower who can produce a truly black tulip. Random mutations often occur in the tulip bulb, which create new shades and variations in the flowers. These mutated bulbs used to be extremely valuable, as they could be used to establish a new line of tulips with a new and interesting color. However, according to my research a truly black tulip has yet to be formed.

Where you plant your tulips, and with what, is as important as which you plant and the quality of the bulbs, When you are advised to buy "top size" bulbs the term may seem vague and need clarification. Tulip bulbs are graded according to circumference. The largest four of about eight sizes are offered for sale to dealers. Allowances are made for varieties which are normally small. The biggest bulbs naturally produce the largest flowers. After working with Tulips for several years of experience you will find that it is smartest to invest a few cents more and buy top size bulbs. This large, vitality-filled stock will give larger blooms three or four years in succession.

There are some diseases which are prevalent in Tulips, as diseases are found in any type of plant. The first disease in Tulips is caused by fire. This causes small, brown flecks in the leaves. When the bulb is infected the plant is pale yellowish-green and the flower blasts. This causes a rot to develop. As the rot develops it causes a light gray discoloration to the plant, bordered by brown margins. It is possible that the stems may rot off completely. A gray mold may cover the infected area. One obvious way to stop the spread of the disease is to not plant bulbs which are diseased. To know if the bulb is diseased, remove the bulb husks to look for diseased spots. When you find a plant which is diseased, destroy it as soon as possible. The disease described here is caused by Botrytis tulipae.

Another type of disease is called Crown rot. Crown rot causes rotting of the bulb and stem below the ground. Characteristics of this disease cause the leaves to turn red, wilt and die. This disease is usually not found very often in Tulips.

The third type of disease prevalent in Tulips is Gray bulb rot. This disease can either cause the plants to fail to emerge in the spring or they may emerge, but if they do they will wither and die. Rotted bulbs with the gray bulb rot are covered with a heavy gray mold. To minimize the risk of this disease it is adamant to avoid poorly drained soil. Also, if you do have tulips with the gray bulb rot, remove them to prevent a spread of the disease.

The next forms of disease are stem rot and flower spot. These are most often seen on double flowered varieties grown in moist shaded areas with poor air circulation. These forms cause the flower stalks to shrivel which in turn cause the flowers to fall over.

There is also a disease called the tulip breaking virus. This disease causes irregular spotting and striping of the flowers. Other characteristics of this disease are the leaves may be mottled and the plants will become reduced in size and vigor. To prevent this disease, it is best to control the aphids which carry the disease. Again with this type of disease it is important to destroy the infected plants.

Another aspect that will kill the plant is winter injury. This occurs when bulbs are planted too late, in heavy clay, or where drainage is poor. When winter injury occurs, the roots fail to grow and the shoots are distorted and abnormal. The bulbs will decay in the winter injury disease.


I would like to leave you with a few tips/suggestions to ensure successful Tulip growth.

1.) Tulips must be planted in the late fall or in early winter

2.) You can grow tulips under deciduous trees where it's too shady for bloom later

3.) Plant food should be applied above the bulbs-but not where it can touch them-and be well watered in

4.) Tulips do best in a loose, well-drained soil

5.) You can increase your plantings by lifting and dividing original bulbs when out of bloom




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