The tulip trials



Short story? Everything came up. Remember when I had some free tulips from Color Blends to give away to readers? I’ve heard from almost everyone who got some, and it seems as though they worked out OK. There was a blend of red and white Triumphs and a blend of red and lavender double lates. The timing was all over the place, thanks to the zone range.


Carol/May Dreams liked that her red doubles were like peonies, but what bothered me is that the two varieties ought to have opened at the same time. And what’s that white one in there?


Chris C./Outside of Clyde’s (top) opened as advertised, as did Alison’s (who did not plant hers until 1/13), above.


Personally, I liked the two triumphs. Here are Gina’s (above). Mine are still in bloom, but here they are at their best a week or so ago.


Chris also posted on the bulbs I sent him as well as those sent by other bloggers—wow, did he ever feel the bulb love! Peter Hoh , who is probably in the coldest spot, posted, but I would bet that his stuff is much further along by this time.

Finally, remember how I bragged about my “throw them in a big hole” tulip-planted strategy? Well, here is the before (November)


and the after (May)


These are two single lates: Queen of the Night and Menton. Due to the dryness and the unusual sun and heat this spring, they were much shorter than they ought to have been. You can see the Triumphs on the stoop, in the background. All will be compost soon enough!

Though I think I sent 7 boxes of tulips, these were all the responses I could find—I bet some ended up in the spam folder.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. What? There weren’t supposed to be white tulips in my mix? The white tulips turned out to be my favorites in that grouping. The other nice thing was how long the tulips stayed in bloom. The purple and white are just now ready to be deadheaded.

    Thanks again for sharing your bounty. They turned out to be beautiful tulips, they kind I wouldn’t normally buy, but sure liked having once they were in full bloom.

  2. Carol, if you look up the Mamma Mia mix on the color blends site, they are just red and lavender. I wonder if I sent you something extra I had from another company. Someone else sent me a bag of doubles and I can’t remember who got them.

  3. Good lord, the big hole result is fabulous! I beefed up my per-hold count to 6-10 last year but next time I’m going all out.
    And did you know that Alison’s a client of mine? And a favorite.

    This post shows the very best use of swag, if you ask me. Okay, nobody asked so I’m telling.

  4. Thanks again for sharing the tulip bulbs. I really enjoyed them when they bloomed and even before that it loved sitting around wondering which ones you’d sent and if they’d bloom.

  5. Can I be on the list for next year if more swag comes your way? I can dig a hole and throw a bunch of bulbs in it. Or more accurately, I can ask my husband to dig a hole (in our garden it requires an axe to get through the tree roots) and then throw some bulbs in it.

  6. Yes I am off to a very good start for my own Bulbapalooza in the coming years. I know it is possible for Tulips to rebloom. I saw that at client #1’s. I planted 400 Tulips, twice that many came up and bloomed. It will be interesting to see if these do.

    My very first Tulips ever. Thanks Elizabeth.

  7. I love tulips and yours look great, Elizabeth. During our first fall in north Florida, I planted 48 bulbs–one(!) leaf sprouted. Sigh… One of my neighbors told me that you have to put the bulbs in the refrigerator before you plant them and they won’t come back, ever. The stores display the bulbs each fall here, but nowhere does it mention what to do to get them to grow here. I’ve switched to crinum lilies, which are spectacular here. Love the one you’re with… Ginny

  8. Just a question – once the bulbs are done, would you put anything in here? Would a perennial survive with that many bulbs? 🙂



  9. Kendra, I will remove all these tulips when they are done and compost them. The Single Lates do not perennialize well at al, and certainly not packed in like that.

    For the rest of the year I plan to have a tall tropical foliage plant there that will take shade and maybe some annuals around it. It’s not a good spot for perennials in any case. Ground cover like lamium can barely take hold–tree roots and shade.

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