Honey, who shrunk the tulips?

Well, it would appear Mother Nature's had a little hiccup this year! We all noticed our plants started growing later than normal and some of ours are looking positively stunted. Some tulips, especially the early varieties, have suffered at the hands of nature’s haphazard ways. They simply can’t cope with too much variability from the norm.

Tulips, as a rule should be planted from the end of October. They will grow well planted up to the end of January but a long winter in ground under 9 degrees Celsius is essential to a producing a good root system and the best flowers. This year’s warm, wet winter has played havoc with this process. Add in the wild card of heavy snow and hard frost in March and some of our tulips have produced much shorter and smaller flowers than usual.

Gardeners and professional growers throughout Europe have been struggling with shrunken flowers although it’s not all bad news for tulips. Not all varieties are as susceptible to the chaotic weather as others and the recent warm weather will have helped the later varieties bulk up their root systems ready.

To help your tulips develop their top flower potential for next year we have the following top tips:

1) Dress your tulips with sulphate of potash or a give them a good drenching of tomato feed every few weeks until the flower starts to fade

2) Remove the flower as soon as possible to prevent the tulip using all its energy in producing seed. Allow the foliage to die back naturally for around 6 to 8 weeks

3) Lift your bulbs from the soil after the foliage has turned straw-like, clean off the excess soil and dry them before storing in paper bags, onion sacks, open trays or even individual legs of old tights!

We all hope Mother Nature will be back to her amazing best very soon!!