Extension Educator, Horticulture
Speculation. Promissory notes. Over-extended credit. Concerns of today. Concerns of yesterday. However 400 years ago in Holland it was all about tulip bulbs.
Tulips, native to Asia, quickly became a symbol of power and prestige in Holland in the 1600's. Fortunes were made and lost on tulip bulbs. Tulip bulb speculation was an economic game of hot potato based on the buying and selling of promissory notes.
Incredible sums were paid. At one point, a single 'Semper Augustus' bulb fetched a whopping 4,500 Dutch guilders ($2,250) plus a horse and carriage!
Luckily we don't have to spend that much to enjoy the beauty of tulips today. In addition we have a tremendous variety of flower shapes, sizes and colors now available.
To have 4 to 6 weeks of tulips in the landscape select several cultivated varieties (cultivars) with various flowering times. Here are a few to consider.
With some tulips successive flower shows fail to rival the first season's bloom. Public gardens often treat tulips as annuals and replace them every year. Reportedly the longer lived types include single early, species types, Darwin, Lily flowered, Fosterana and Gregii cultivars. For long-lived tulips look for ones labeled "good for naturalizing".
Tulips and all the spring flowering bulbs such as crocus, daffodils and grape hyacinths should be planted in October. For best growth plant tulips 8 inches deep in masses in sunny areas with well-drained soil. Dry soil in summer will help tulip bulbs to live longer.
Tulips can be planted in ground covers such as English ivy or vinca. Plant tulips near perennials such as daylilies, hostas, asters, peonies, and fall anemones. To keep rabbits at bay, plant tulips surrounded by daffodils, grape hyacinths, or lily-of-the-valley. Since tulips rise and shine early in the season they can be planted in the back of a flower border.
For more information: http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/bulbs/