Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Upside-down tulips

You know all those dire warnings always to plant your tulip bulbs (and indeed any other type of bulb) the right way up, so the pointy end goes upwards and the basal root plate is pointing down? Ever had a crisis of confidence over those fiendish corms like ranunculus or cyclamen when it's sometimes impossible to tell which end is up?

Well I thought I'd put your mind at rest. Last autumn my little girls were given a packet of tulips (praestans 'Fusilier', in case you're interested) and we had a lovely muddy session in which they enthusiastically planted them all in their little gardens outside the wendy house. I did tell them which way up to put them, but, well, when you're seven you get a bit carried away sometimes.

So - I was weeding that bit the other day and accidentally dug up one of the tulip bulbs (a bit of an occupational hazard at this time of year I find). And this is what I found.

Now, doesn't that make you feel better? No matter which way up you plant a bulb, it seems, it manages to sort itself out perfectly well, thank you very much. So next autumn, sling 'em in and as long as they're not waterlogged or pulled up by squirrels, things will turn out just fine.

I re-planted this one right away. Upside down, of course: it seems to like it that way.


Stone Art said...

well isent that handy to know.
looks like i can go planting in the dark after all.

The Garden Ms. S said...

Yay! I planted my first bulbs this past fall and found out afterwards that we planted them all upside down. I've been rather dejected about the whole experiment.

Now my hope is restored!

The Constant Gardener said...

SA: gardening by moonlight: there is no more romantic thing to do with your autumn evenings.

And Ms S: always happy to cheer people up!

Plant Mad Nige said...

Living proof that you can bung 'em in any way you like. When we grew small numbers of bulbs commercially, we ploughed them into a furrow - like the big boys do, down on the fens near Spalding.

Eventually, the contractile roots and the shoots work together and gradually straighten the bulb up so it's pointing the right way. Or so I'm told.

I think the biggest fault, in bulb planting is not putting them in the wrong way up, but planting them too shallow.

Almost all bulbs, I was once told by Chris Ireland-Jones of Avon Bulbs, need to be planted more deeply than you think.

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