When it comes to garden display, Tulip flowers are considered top-notch amongst bulbous crops and these flowers are most sought temperate bulbous ornamentals of international flower trade. Tulips are bulbous-rooted perennials with 10–70 cm height.
Types of Tulips:
Various types of tulips available are as follows:
Standard – These are the traditional, old-fashioned tulips available in many forms and shades, either single or bi-colors. Standard tulips are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.
Parrot – Impressive, long-stemmed tulips distinctively fringed, feathery, ruffled, twisted, or curled petals in a variety of vibrant colors.
Fringed – As the name Suggests, fringed tulips display a fine fringe that gives the bloom a soft, frilly appearance. Colors include pink, red, violet, yellow and white, with the fringes often contrasting to the bloom.
Rembrandt – These are showy, tall tulips with pale colors distinctly variegated or streaked with deep purple or reddish “flames.”
Fosteriana – This early bloomer displays huge blooms measuring up to 8 inches across, with short, sturdy stems that top out at about 10 inches.
Triumph – This is a cold-hardy, sturdy-stemmed variety available in a wide variety of solid and bi-colour.
Darwin hybrids – These are tall tulips in spectacular colors, mostly in the reddish-orange to red range. Varieties also include pink, white and yellow.
Kaufmanniana – Well known as water lily, an early bloomer with short stems and large blooms in various colors, most with contrasting centers. Blooms open flat in bright sunlight.
Viridiflora – These are also known as green tulips, this variety is distinctive for its various colors, with green markings. For example, yellow tulips with green stripes, creamy white with bluish-green mottling, or pale colors with feathery green markings. Greigii – This is a midseason bloomer with big, colorful blooms streaked and spotted with maroon or brownish markings.
Double – The variety is also known as peony tulip for its short stems and lush multi-layered blooms.
Lily flowering – This is an elegant, late-spring bloomer with long, pointy petals that arch outward at the tips. These are available in a variety of colors, including white, magenta, red, pink and yellow, often with contrasting edges.
Single late – Also known as cottage tulip. This is one of the tallest varieties (2-3) feet. The graceful blooms are oval or egg-shaped in pure, vibrant colors, often with contrasting edges.
Mass multiplication of bulbous plants is one of the important factors for economic feasibility of commercial floriculture. To rapidly increase a particular variety of bulbous flower, it is necessary to use precision farming techniques through which natural rate of propagation can be increased. Conventional method of multiplication of tulips is by the division of bulb and bulb-lets whereas embryogenesis and tissue culture are the other methods of multiplication.
Preparation for planting
Bulbs grow best in soils of high fertility and the purpose of the long-term preparation of land for bulbs is to raise the fertility of the soil by generous manuring. It is generally agreed that high soil fertility should be maintained. The potash requirement is high for bulbs. soil is tilled to a depth of 12 to 15 inches. Well drained soil is prerequisite for tulip growth and propagation to avoid bulb rotting due to pathogen infection and asphyxiation. Therefore planting tulips in raised beds particularly under wet areas is preferred and recommended. Soil should be made light and airy by adding compost and coarse sand.
Selection of site
Most tulips do best under full sun, or at least under 6 hours of bright sun each day. Some varieties will also grow in partial or full shade. Therefore care has to be taken to select the site on the basis of variety to be opted.
Solar sterilisation: In this method the soil is covered with polyethylene for 7 to 8 weeks.
Hydrogen perioxide with silver
Add Hydrogen perioxide with silver 35 ml per liter of water and 1 L/ m2 is reqiured for sterlisation. Planting can be done 6 hours after treatment. In the market multi component complex formulations containing hydrogen peroxide and silver in nano form are available.
Formalin is used as well for soil sterilisation and the ratio is 1: 10 (formalin:water).After treatment the soil is covered with plastic for 7 days followed by removal of traces with water at the ratio of 1 m2: 100 L of water.After 2 weeks of this planting can be carried out.
Carbendazim 50% WP is an effective chemical fungicide which is used to treat bulbs to avoid fungal contamination of bulbs and rotting. The chemical is dusted on the bulbs before plantation. 1kg of fungicide is dusted on 20kg of bulbs. Also the bio-antifungal agent like Trichoderma formulation at recommended doses can also be used to treat bulbs before their plantation.
Various bio-fertilizers are now also available for use in the flower production. Other nutrient solubilising bacteria (ZnSB, PSB, KSB, Azotobacter) at the recommended doses can also be used as bulb dressers. The bio-fertilizers can as well be used as soil applications along with carriers (FYM, vermi-compost) at recommended doses.
Methods of Planting
For commercial growers, the bulbs can either be hand planted or plough planted. Through plough planting 8-10 inch wide furrows are set by either single furrow plough or ridger bodies. The depth of planting is an important consideration for high bulb planting. The ideal depth of 12.5-15cm is recommended for Tulip depending upon size of the bulb. Tulip bulbs are planted 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) apart, measuring from the base of the bulb. Deep planting is done in areas with mild winters which helps to keep bulbs cooler.
Time of Planting
Tulips can be planted from October to January under specific climatic conditions ranging from open field to protected conditions. Tulip bulbs should be planted in late fall, before the first winter frost under open field conditions
Placement of Bulb
Bulbs are set firmly in place with the pointed end facing upwards. The hole should be flat on the bottom so that the flat base of the bulb is in contact with the ground. The bulbs are then covered with soil and watered thoroughly. Moisture is necessary for the bulbs to take root before winter. However, do not keep the soil soggy or the bulbs will rot. After the ground freezes, apply about a six inch mulch of clean straw or leaves. Do not cover the bulbs before the ground freezes. The wet mulch could cause the bulbs to rot, and the mulch could also delay the freezing of the ground.
Remove the winter mulch as soon as the shoots are 1-2 inches high. Remove blooms as soon as they fade in order to conserve energy for next year's flowers. Do not cut the leaves until they turn yellow and wither. These leaves are needed to produce nutrition for the next year's tulips. The crop fertilizers may be applied after the blooms fade. This is the critical time in which they make the most use of the fertilizer.
After planting, bulbs irrigate the area thoroughly. It is advised not to water again until leaves start growing. Tulips do not require excess moisture but initial watering at planting is important to trigger growth and do not water again throughout winter. Once the leaves start growing in spring, soil moisture has to be maintained at field moisture level without making it muddy. Irrigation should be stopped when the leaves start withering.
Mulching is done with straw to keep the soil cool. In areas with mild winters, mulching is laid immediately after planting, whereas in areas with cold severe winters, wait 3 to 4 weeks after planting before mulching to allow the roots to grow a little before the ground freezes.
Subsequent Cultivation Practices
It includes wedding, fertigation and pest management. These practices are carried out during subsequent growth phases after bulb planting.
De-blossoming or Deheading/Disbudding
It is an important practice for the crop exclusively for bulb production. It involves removal of flower heads, especially of stocks. Deheaded stocks yield a greater number of large bulbs with superior quality. The deheading consists of snapping-off or preferably cutting off with a knife, the blooms just below the flowers. The best time for deheading is probably when the first indication of colour appears in the flowers. Usually deheading is done after the first three weeks of bloom, before the petals fall off. Falling petals that get caught in the foliage of tulips cause the plant to mould and die off before it could nourish the new bulbs growing underground.
Growth retardants like Cycocel @ 500-1000ppm and micronutrients are applied on foliage after the reproductive phase is over. This enhances bulb size and number.
Well rotted organic manure (FYM or Sheep manure@ 30 tonnes), zinc @ 2-3kg and Nitrogen 15 kg is incorporated per acre in soil at the time of soil preparation. Half N2 is spilled into two doses- half applied in spring when the growth phase starts and the remaining half after the flowering phase is over. Liquid applications of Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium (NPK) can be carried out by dissolving
NPK (10-10-10 gm/lit or 5-10-5 gm/lit) in 1 litre of water and these graded fertilizers can be applied as long as the leaves appear green and vigorous.