Groundhog Day and tulip seedlings

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McGregorUS
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Joined: 2009-12-18
Groundhog Day and tulip seedlings

So Happy Groundhog Day - if that's an appropriate greeting. If groundhogs lived in England, right now they would have no shadow - it's very dull and damp, but it is warmer than recently (about 4oC). So hope that is a bit of a sign since we've had more snow this winter - not much by many people's standards - three weeks of snow cover and then two more bursts than any year I can remember since 1963. And there's so much I want to do - new sandbed for one. Still tomorrow I want to get some more seed sown so that I'm pretty much up-to-date when the NARGS seed arrives. And in the last three weeks the tulip seed sown last year (most germinated OK) are mostly starting to show above ground. All I've got to do now is keep them growing on, getting bigger for years! Any advice on how long it takes to get tulips from germination to flowering would be very welcome. Species include T. bifloriformis, T. talievii, T greigii and T. kauffmanniana.

Boland
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Joined: 2009-09-25

I don't have the patience for tulips from seed...most species do not so well in Newfoundland as we can't 'bake' them in summer.  Tarda and turkestanica are exceptions..they self-seed but I have no idea how long it took for them to start flowering...they have been in my garden for nearly 20 years!

Groundhog would see his shadow here...first bit of sun we've had in weeks...but it's D*** cold!  -10 C for the high and hardy any snow cover...unusual for us!

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

McGregorUS
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Joined: 2009-12-18

That's why I was asking Todd. I may not have the patience either - I've never grown tulips from seed before - but these were collected in Kazakhstan and I couldn't resist! And I was hoping someone would have some experience.

Malcolm McGregor
Global Moderator/NARGS Editor
East Yorkshire, UK

IMYoung
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-31

Hi Malcolm, Ian replying to you this time.

Once you get germination you should flower most Tulip species in three to five years from seed.
I say once you get germination because depending when you sow the seed you may have to wait for a year before they germinate. I believe all bulb seed has a time window during which the seed must be sown to get best germination results the following spring and with tulips that time window closes around the end of December.

To speed your seedlings along feed them with a soluble form of potash when the weather improves a bit and they get into good growth. I use sulphate of potash powder. I sprinkle a small amount of the powder onto the top dressing then water through the powder - repeat that up to three times depending on how long the seedlings keep growing for.
My basic method of feeding bulbs can be found at this link.
http://www.srgc.org.uk/bulblog/log2005/160205/log.html

Growing bulbs from seed is the best way to get good healthy bulbs that have both variation in shape and form as well as adaptability to the very different growing conditions that gardeners experience around the world.

Can I add my best wishes to the success of this new forum.

Ian  and/or Margaret Young ( -here it is usually Margaret)

Aberdeen , North East Scotland, UK
Zone 8a

www.srgc.net

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

McGregor wrote:

So Happy Groundhog Day - if that's an appropriate greeting. If groundhogs lived in England, right now they would have no shadow - it's very dull and damp, but it is warmer than recently (about 4oC). So hope that is a bit of a sign since we've had more snow this winter - not much by many people's standards - three weeks of snow cover and then two more bursts than any year I can remember since 1963. And there's so much I want to do - new sandbed for one. Still tomorrow I want to get some more seed sown so that I'm pretty much up-to-date when the NARGS seed arrives. And in the last three weeks the tulip seed sown last year (most germinated OK) are mostly starting to show above ground. All I've got to do now is keep them growing on, getting bigger for years! Any advice on how long it takes to get tulips from germination to flowering would be very welcome. Species include T. bifloriformis, T. talievii, T greigii and T. kauffmanniana.

I sow Tulipa species seed outdoors in situ.  Of the four species you list, I only have first hand experience with T. bifloriformis, and last year I had some seedlings bloom, 3 years from seed,  A few 3-year old seedlings didn't bloom, so the general expectation of 3-5 years from seed seems to hold true. I upload a photo taken of established older plants, taken in spring 2009, the younger flowering seedlings are not in the view.  It's a charming species.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Kelaidis
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Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-03

Fabulous tulip! Very different from biflora and also turkestanica (to which it must be allied: much whiter though). Save seed on that one for me!

Tulips grow quickly here too. Great picture of you, btw.

For every minion of the peaks there are a dozen steppe children growing in the dry Continental heart of all hemispheres still unknown to horticulture.

Boland
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Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

I thought Mark's tulip was a turkestanica as well!  Of the species tulip I've tried in my super wet climate, turkestanica, tarda and praestans are the most reliable in the long run.

Todd Boland
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Zone 5b
1800 mm precipitation per year

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Boland wrote:

I thought Mark's tulip was a turkestanica as well!  Of the species tulip I've tried in my super wet climate, turkestanica, tarda and praestans are the most reliable in the long run.

Got my Tulipa bifloriformis from Jane McGary.  I'll ask Janis Ruksans for his comments and experience on this species, but in his book Buried Treasure, he writes about the "Tulipa bifloriformis-T. turkestanica complex".  He goes on to write "At Chimgan we had to find T. bifloriformis, whose anthers are mostly black.  As it happens, we found plants with all variations of anther color: they were black, yellow, and yellow with a black tip".  I uploaded two more photos of what I have as T. bifloriformis.  In the second photo, ignore the distracting yellow thimbles behind the Tulipa  ;)

One of my other favorite tulips, readily available in bulb bins in the autumn, is T. polychroma.  I upload 3 photos, all taken on the same day.  The first photo shows the buds that are beautifully and delicately shaded grayish-greenish with a hint of rose, but open up to clusters of pristine white yellow-centered flowers.  The flowers are richly perfumed.  This is by far makes it in my top 10 dwarf Tulipa list.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

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