There is a special reason to plant tulip bulbs this year: to celebrate. A new tulip has been developed by the Dutch to help Canadians celebrate our 150th anniversary next year: the Canada 150. And it is amazing.
I visited a patch of several thousand of these while at the Ottawa Tulip Festival this past May and I have ordered several hundred to plant in my own garden. A classic Triumph, this tulip features vertical red and white markings that are reminiscent of the Eternal Flame on Parliament Hill. Home Hardware, the exclusive supplier of Canada 150, offers top size, 12 cm bulbs in boxes of 25.
I strongly suggest that you don’t wait to purchase these bulbs for your home garden. I’ve heard from gardeners across Canada that stores are already selling out.
Once you have your Canada 150 tulip bulbs, it’s time to get planting. Tulips should be planted about six to eight weeks before hard ground frost. They are generally best planted in October or November.
When planting the bulb, ensure you choose an area that receives minimum six hours of sunshine. Tulips perform best in sandy, well-drained soil. I like to add 2 cm of sand to the bottom of the planting hole. Plant the bulbs at least six inches or 15 cm deep and at least 2.5 cm or one inch apart.
Water your tulips thoroughly immediately after planting. If squirrels are a problem, here are some tactics that can work:
- After you plant a group of tulip bulbs, place chicken wire over the top of the bulbs as a physical deterrent.
- While planting, apply Wilson Predator Animal Barrier directly to the bulb. One shot will provide a shocking taste that repels squirrels and other rodents.
- Plant deep. All bulbs perform best in well-drained soil. If yours is sufficiently well drained you can plant tulips deeper than the recommended “three times as deep as the bulb is thick.” Squirrels can just get tired of digging for them.
I will be hosting a Canada 150 contest next spring in my e-newsletter. If you are growing these amazing bulbs, I encourage you to take a photo and share it next spring.
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author and broadcaster. Get his free monthly newsletter at markcullen.com. Look for his new best seller, The New Canadian Garden’ published by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and Facebook.