Tulips are a great sign that spring is coming, but growing them in Houston can be a challenge. If you grew up in the Northeast or Midwest tulips were a mainstay in the spring landscape. We planted five varieties to see how they would perform under our growing conditions (Table 1).
Table 1. Tulip varieties evaluated
|World Favorite||Scarlet red with yellow edging||Darwin Hybrid|
|World Peace||Magenta petals edged in gold||Darwin Hybrid|
|Van Eijk||Dark pink||Darwin Hybrid|
|Onno Vanden Brink||Creamy yellow||Triumph|
The pre-chilled bulbs were planted on January 13, 2015. A 3’ wide hole was dug approximately 4” deep. One hundred bulbs were placed in each hole, back-covered with soil, mulched and watered. In our trial, the crop time was 10 weeks from planting to final bloom (Table 2).
Table 2. Tulip trial timeline
|Bulbs planted||Week 3|
|Plants breaking the soil||Week 6|
|1st bloom color||Week 9|
|Peak color||Week 11|
|Blooming ended||Week 13|
World Peace – the first variety to start blooming. Reached a landscape height of 22-24”. The flower color and quality performed well during the rains we had in March.
World Favorite – the next variety to come into flower. World Favorite was similar in habit to World Peace, with a landscape height of 18-22”.
Passionale – the shortest of the 5 varieties with a landscape height of 8-12”. I would recommend this variety for the front of the bed.
Van Eijk – a good dark pink color with a landscape height of 13-15”.
Onno vanden Brink – The last variety to bloom in the trial with a landscape height of 16-18”.
If you are a landscaper/designer looking for some different color options for early spring then tulips might fill that void. I am sure you have customers that are transplants from the north wanting to see tulips in the landscape. It is now possible to enjoy tulips for early spring color in Houston. The crop is easy to grow and provides some spectacular color. By planting pre-chilled bulbs, you can insure consistent growth and bloom in the landscape. These bulbs will not perennialize and it is recommended that they be removed after flowering has ended.
So next fall/winter if your customer wants something different in their landscape why not try some tulips.
Special thanks to Margaret Cherry and Abbott-Ipco Inc. for supplying the bulbs for the trial.