Two-Lip Fever

We seem to be receiving lots of questions as to when our tulips are going to bloom. The answer is our tulips are a very special type which bloom in February, sooo you are too late. If you believe that, I have oceanfront (at least pond front) property in California to sell you. And no, that tulip picture above is NOT current; patience, grasshopper! Soon we will be awash in tulips. When, you ask?

First let’s talk about tulips. Tulips fall into three general bloom times: early, mid- and late spring. Early can mean, depending a number of factors (location, side of house, soil type, etc), mid-April to early May. Mid-season tulips tend to bloom in mid to late May while late season varieties bloom right up to the cooking temperatures of summer.

Before I tell you when our tulips will bloom, don’t you want to learn a little more? Of course you do! Tulips belong to a group of plants known as geophytes, which broadly refers to underground storage organs, be they be bulbous, tuberous or herbaceous. Geophytes are characterized by a brief period of above ground spring growth, followed by a prolonged “dormant” period when a series of environmental changes tell the bulb to begin the process of growth all over again. This adaptation allows geophytes of all sorts to survive through cyclical periods of non-favorable environmental conditions like summer drought or too much shade from a forest canopy.

AND NOW for the moment you all have been waiting for (drum roll please), the average peak tulip display at Wellfield Botanic Gardens occurs around mid-May. This year is trending cooler so it might be pushed closer to Memorial Day, but we shall see. In the meantime, there is plenty to see at Wellfield (daffodils need love, too), so don’t stay away just because the tulips are still slumbering.

Josh Steffen
Horticulture Manager

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