by Keriann Sloat Koeman—
Container planting has endless creative possibilities. This year as Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I wanted to add some pizzazz to my front porch, and I wanted something besides regular old mums to top my potted tulips while I waited for them to bloom in the spring. I discovered ornamental kale and cabbage in an array of striking shades of purple, pink, white, and green. They were the perfect toppers for my potted tulips. Growing tulips in pots is easy and fun for the whole family.
Find a container or pot
Use clean pots with drainage holes, and place some little rocks or gravel on the bottom to ensure good drainage.
Plant your bulbs
Add a few inches of potting soil in the container and plant the bulbs point up. When you plant, press the bulb with the flat side into the potting soil. Add another layer of potting soil (enough to cover the bulbs by at least 2 to 3 inches) and water slightly. Bulbs don’t like wet roots, so be careful that you don’t overwater. Add a 1-inch layer of coarse sand or mulch to keep the soil moist.
Cold period and rooting
Don’t add any fertilizer. Place the container in a cold area where it is between 32°F and 50°F. We suggest the fridge/garage or basement to give the tulips their “cold period.”*
During the “cold period,” water lightly once or twice. After 6 to 12 weeks, sprouts will emerge. When the sprouts are 2 to 4 inches tall, the tulips are ready to receive direct sunlight in a warm area.
Grow your flowers!
Place the container in an area with direct sunlight inside or out. The tulips will flower in 2 to 4 weeks depending on the temperature.
*If you decide to top your container with ornamental kale or cabbage, you can leave them on your porch all winter long or until they start to look straggly. Water sparingly as needed.
For more tips and information on organic tulips, check out www.ecotulips.com.
by Jeroen Koeman—
It’s a fact of life: For fabulous flowers that bloom in spring—such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and others—you must plant them in the fall. Bulbs require a “winter sleep” or cold period. Most tulips need at least 14-16 weeks of “cold period” to develop a big beautiful flower.
If you follow these simple tips you will have a beautiful spring garden:
1. Don’t plant too early
Plant when the soil temperature drops below 55˚F. If it’s 70-80 degrees outside it is too warm and the combination of warm temperatures and rain can cause those precious bulbs to rot. We live in central Virginia and don’t plant till early November.
2. Good drainage
As they say in Holland, bulbs don’t like wet feet. Find a spot that drains well so your bulbs won’t drown.
3. Plant Deep
We recommend planting tulip bulbs 6-8” deep. This will encourage your tulips to come back, keep the soil temperature more consistent, and discourage squirrels from digging up a tasty organic snack! Planting later is also a good deterrent as they are less active and the cold will help mask that yummy bulb smell. Muscari and smaller bulbs like species tulips are planted 4” deep.
Adding compost to your soil is always good, as healthy soil equals healthy plants. We add a little compost to the bottom of the hole and mix it in with the soil.
5. Tip Up
Always plant your bulbs with the tip up or at least sideways, otherwise their root system will be facing the wrong direction and their chance of survival decreases. And we don’t want that.
6. Add Mulch:
Add a couple inches of mulch to insulate the soil, especially in colder climates. Leaves and straw are good choices.
An organic spring garden is easy and important for the bees as it provides an early and healthy food source.
The Tulip Man
by Keriann Sloat Koeman—
As autumn slowly approaches, the sun continues to kiss my shoulders with 90-degree days here in Brightwood, Virginia. I am ruminating over what my spring garden will look like in April. How will I use late blooming tulips to extend the color in the garden? Where will I plant the naturalizing botanicals like Lady Jane and Turkastanica so they won’t be disturbed? What color combinations will I choose? I feel like a mad scientist as a smile creeps across my face and warmth spreads in my chest. This is really exciting! Only 2 months to go till planting time.
Since marrying Jeroen Koeman (aka The Tulip Man) almost two years ago, my life has been taken over by a flower I thought was common, but have since discovered it’s so much more. I’ve learned more about the tulip—its history, its plight with pests and fire blight, its tendency to drive people mad—than I ever could have imagined.
The summer has barely started to fade away and yet there is the ever-so-slight promise of fall. We’ve had a few days in the 80s and finally we’re able to open windows in the evening to let in a cool breeze. It’s on one of these evenings that I find myself here on the porch, feet up, making sketches of the spring garden, while beautiful little gold finches eat the sunflowers that were beaten to the ground by last week’s rain, and cicadas sing louder than my neighbor’s lawn mower. While the common, infamous, and seductive tulip fills my mind.