Kew Gardens head of garden design Richard Wilford says November is best time to plant tulip bulbs

Many of us have already planted our spring flowering bulbs, including daffodils, crocuses and grape hyacinths – but keeping the tulips until November can reap greater rewards. So says Richard Wilford, horticulturist and head of garden design and collection support at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and author of The Plant Lover’s Guide To Tulips (Timber Press).

“It’s because of where they come from in nature, which is mainly from Central Asia, where they have been very long and dry. They are very happy to be left out of the ground until November or even early December, because if they are adapted to survive these really dry conditions in the wild,” he explains. “Even though the tulips (bulbs) you buy probably come from Holland, the DNA of the wild species is still in them, so they still have the same characteristic even if they have been raised a lot.”




Later planting avoids autumn rains

Wilford adds: “It’s not that you can’t plant them in September and October, but if you put them in very wet soil in September, they’ll be there before they start to grow in wet soil, so they’re more likely to get it.” fungal diseases”.

It also reduces the risk of tulip fire

Tulip blight is one of the most common fungal diseases among tulips. It can enter the skin of the bulb, resulting in pieces of mold on the plants the following spring, Wilford warns.

“It can strike at any time when they are in the ground. The disease can reach the bulb, or it could reach the leaves and flowers from other plants when they are in flower. There is no specific time that the fungal disease arrives. It is only that if you can leave the planting of tulips until November, you are less likely to put in the bulb.”

Moisture causes many fungal diseases, but you won’t see evidence until you have blotches on the leaves in the spring. “There could be pale spots and circles and the growth will be distorted, which will spread to the flowers, which will be twisted.”

Once the tulip fire appears, it will begin to produce spores that will spread to other tulips, Wilford warns. “The spores will go into the soil, so if you plant tulips again next year, they will go into the bulbs at that point.”

In November, a lot of fungal activity will be reduced, keep, as we enter the winter.

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