Northern Outlook - - GARDENING -

If you want to tip­toe through tulips in Septem­ber or Oc­to­ber, May is the month to plant them. If you live in a warmer area of the coun­try, ide­ally you should have been chill­ing your tulips for six weeks prior to plant­ing.

Tulips orig­i­nate from moun­tain­ous coun­tries, with colder win­ters than ours, so ar­ti­fi­cial chill­ing is nec­es­sary to al­low the bud to com­plete de­vel­op­ment and to en­sure the plants have nice, long stems.

How­ever, your spring need not be ru­ined if you haven’t done this. Paul Hoek from NZ Bulbs says that if you chill tulip bulbs now for three to four weeks and plant them in early June, this should be fine. Put the bulbs in the fridge in a pa­per bag and keep them away from your fruit and veges that pro­duce the ripen­ing gas eth­yl­ene which can pre­vent flower and root for­ma­tion.

Al­ter­na­tively, plant your bulbs at least 20cm deep where the soil is cooler. Work the soil to at least 35cm to al­low space for root de­vel­op­ment.

Tulip bulbs from NZ Bulbs are still avail­able and as they’re based in Feild­ing, they’ve al­ready had a de­cent amount of chill. ten­der tex­ture. Twist off by hand or snip with a pair of scis­sors.

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