Tulip bulbs - choosing, buying and planting
Choosing and Buying Tulip bulbs
Tulip flowers are generally propagated by tunicated bulbs or offsets. The bulbs should be checked for any infection, like discoloration, cuts or bruises or softness .Infected bulbs must be discarded.
Tulip bulbs initiate their flowering when they are properly forced (i.e. satisfy artificially log cold requirement).If unforced bulb is used then plant growth is slow and stem growth is inhibited. The Tulip plant produces flowers on very short stems and no uniform flowering occurs.
A flowering size bulb has five to seven fleshy scales including the outer tunic. They are attached to the basal plate. Before planting, grading of Tulip bulb is essential to ensure their flowering & flower quality. Large Tulip bulbs produce large flowers whereas small Tulip bulbs sometimes produce only one leaf and no flower.
The critical grade of Tulip bulbs to initiate flowers is between 10-12 cm in circumference or above, depending on cultivar.
Planting Tulip bulbs
When Tulip bulbs are grown in pots for indoor decoration, they should be planted less deep in the pots with nose facing upwards. Bulbs should not be pressed too hard in the soil to avoid damage on growing root tips. A compact soil under the bulb hampers proper rooting. The tunics should be removed before planting to ensure proper rooting in the bulb.
After planting, cover the bulb with shallow layer of soil or sand to a depth of 1-2 cm and must be thoroughly watered. Avoid water logging, because it will damage the roots, which affects flowering and the growth of daughter bulbs. Bulbs should be properly treated in systemic insecticide before planting.
For aesthetic reasons, dwarf cultivars such as the greigii hybrids is suitable for pot planting. Generally three Tulip bulbs are planted in 10 cm pot, 6-7 bulbs in 15 cm pot and 10-12 bulbs in 20 cm pot. Fresh potting mixture should be use for planting.
When bulbs are planted in open beds, a sunny site is preferred. If possible, tulips should be planted in a fresh site where they did not grow previously. If same ground is selected then drenching of soil with suitable fungicide is recommended.
Bed should be thoroughly ploughed up to 15 cm depth to allow good root development. As a common practice, tulip bulbs are planted at a depth of twice the height of the bulb. Depth of the planting should be 7.5-10 cm from the base of the bulbs.
During bed preparation, addition of bone meal or another well balanced fertilizer with low in nitrogen content can be incorporated. But highly nitrogenous fertilizers and fresh manure should be avoided because they encourage soft and lanky growth. Well rotten farm yard manure (FYM) should be mixed @5-10 kg/m2 to enrich the soil. Soil must have moist but no over watering during planting.