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Gardening

9 Tips for Top-Notch Tulips in 2017

The Dallas Arboretum's VP of Gardens has some advice.
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Arboretum gardeners planting more than 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs for Dallas Blooms this spring.
When we think “gardening expert,” a few local green thumbs might come to mind, but Dallas Arboretum’s Vice President of Gardens Dave Forehand certainly makes his way to the forefront. Each month, we’ll be sharing Forehand’s seasonal gardening tips and insight. Today, Dave’s talking tulips.

Right now, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden‘s horticultural staff, with the help of up to 30 additional seasonal gardeners, are laying out and planting more than 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs throughout our 66-acre garden in preparation for Dallas Blooms: Flower Power: Peace, Love and Blooms, which debuts February 25 and runs through April 9, 2017. It takes roughly 11,560 hours to plant them, and about 99 percent of our tulips come from Holland. The tulip bulbs are shipped to the U.S. to our bulb supplier and chilled for 6 to 8 weeks. You can do the same thing if you buy bulbs by putting them in your refrigerator.



Here are some tips to ensure that your tulips are the tops.

 

Bulb Advice


Bulbs need to be chilled in a paper bag stored in a refrigerator for four to six weeks before planting, and soil temperatures need to be 55 degrees or lower when planting the bulbs to ensure the tulips don’t bloom too early.

 

Planting Time


The ideal planting time is December, earlier or later depending on the weather, when the soil temperature is 55 degrees or less.

 

Planting Tips



  1. Amend the soil and remove any existing fall plants, add compost, broadcast bone meal bulb fertilizer with a hand spreader, and add blood meal to keep away squirrels and birds.

  2. Add expanded shale to improve drainage.

  3. Plant bulbs 6 inches deep, or at the proper depth for the variety of bulb. Follow planting directions listed for each type of bulb.

  4. Plant other spring-blooming annuals and perennials, such as pansies, violas and snap dragons, four inches apart so the beds appear fuller and burst with splashes of different colors.


 

Fertilize, Water and Freeze Tips




    1. You don’t have to fertilize or water as much in the winter, but come spring, you’ll need to water and feed your plants more. As the temperatures rise, the bulbs will grow more quickly, and the soil can dry out quicker.

    2. Give dry soil a good watering before a freeze to insulate plants.

    3. Pansies, kale and poppies all can survive a freeze so you don’t have to cover.




From now through December 20, visitors have the opportunity to witness bulb planting throughout the gardens as they wander through The 12 Days of Christmas exhibit, sponsored by IBERIABANK, on display through January 8.

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