Ask a Question forum: Two-year tulips

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North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
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joannakat
May 7, 2018 11:34 AM CST
Hi everyone,

Two seasons ago, I planted America's Favorite tulips. They're listed as blooming two years in a row so no need to dig them up if you want them to last (that is, until after the second year).

The first season, they bloomed a bright and beautiful red with faint streaks of yellow. Absolutely gorgeous. But this, the second season, I'm finding their color to be different, a more muted red with a far less vibrant yellow streak. It looks as if the colors were mixed with a bit of charcoal.

My questions are,
1. Is this common for second year blooms?

2. If not, is there something missing in the soil along the lines of vitamins, minerals or some type of nourishment that would influence the color? Or is there too much of something?

3. Does anyone know what I can expect if I dig them up this season to save them for planting again in the fall? Will they bloom their original bright red, or will the color continue to wane?

GRRR! Being a newbie is lasting a lot longer than I thought it would!

Thanks for any answers.
AKA Joey.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
May 7, 2018 12:57 PM CST
Do you know the cultivar name? I don't see an 'America's Favorite' listed.
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
May 7, 2018 6:35 PM CST
sooby said:Do you know the cultivar name? I don't see an 'America's Favorite' listed.


Apologies, I wrote the wrong name!
It's this:
Tulip (Tulipa 'World's Favourite')
AKA Joey.
[Last edited by joannakat - May 7, 2018 6:35 PM (+)]
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Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
May 7, 2018 6:58 PM CST
joannakat said:Hi everyone,
Two seasons ago, I planted America's Favorite tulips. They're listed as blooming two years in a row so no need to dig them up if you want them to last (that is, until after the second year).
The first season, they bloomed a bright and beautiful red with faint streaks of yellow. Absolutely gorgeous. But this, the second season, I'm finding their color to be different, a more muted red with a far less vibrant yellow streak. It looks as if the colors were mixed with a bit of charcoal.

My questions are,
1. Is this common for second year blooms?
2. If not, is there something missing in the soil along the lines of vitamins, minerals or some type of nourishment that would influence the color? Or is there too much of something?
3. Does anyone know what I can expect if I dig them up this season to save them for planting again in the fall? Will they bloom their original bright red, or will the color continue to wane?

GRRR! Being a newbie is lasting a lot longer than I thought it would!
Thanks for any answers.

Unless you have solid colors, tulips can do odd things.
There is no guarantee , unless you have one in writing, that year two will resemble year one.

I have seen beds, my own, go strong for more than two years.
I have seen beds become mediocre to pathetic after one year, with not cheap bulbs and with soil heavily prepped for tulips.

When you dig them , the size of the bulbs, wil tell you how well they are doing.
If they are all small off-spring with no large ones, do not expect them to even resemble the originals.

For what ever reason I had better fortune, better looking, longer last tulips down in my heavy black gumbo, than the one's planted in Sharon sandy-clay. ( But while her soil is in what is supposed to be potato land, my heavy soil down south makes better taters also.)
What type of soil do you have?
As I said , I spent a goodly number of bucks prepping a large tulip garden up North, fertilizer, bucks up soil , etc, and it was the most disappointing thing.


[Last edited by RpR - May 7, 2018 7:05 PM (+)]
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North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
May 7, 2018 8:34 PM CST
RpR said:
Unless you have solid colors, tulips can do odd things.
There is no guarantee , unless you have one in writing, that year two will resemble year one.

For what ever reason I had better fortune, better looking, longer last tulips down in my heavy black gumbo, than the one's planted in Sharon sandy-clay. ( But while her soil is in what is supposed to be potato land, my heavy soil down south makes better taters also.)
What type of soil do you have?
As I said , I spent a goodly number of bucks prepping a large tulip garden up North, fertilizer, bucks up soil , etc, and it was the most disappointing thing.


Sorry, forgive my ignorance, but what is heavy black gumbo?

Originally, there was just a few inches of topsoil, just enough to support grass, with a LOT of rocks underneath. With help, I dug it all up, removed the rocks down to about a foot, and then created raised beds of about 8 or 10 inches on top of that. I filled it with rich soil mixed with compost and sand to encourage drainage. I feed / fertilize with bulb fertilizer twice a year. The soil can remain somewhat moist, but never puddles or gets soggy.

The lilies planted behind the tulips are coming up like hulks! Last season was their first, and they were as expected with some flowers and appeared very healthy. The first to come up this season is only about 6 inches tall right now, and rather than looking like a stalk, looks like a small pineapple!

In front of the tulips are grape hyacinth, which look incredibly healthy and even though they haven't fully bloomed yet, do look to have a nice color. Just behind that are a few daffodils and then the mixed row of tulips. Only the World's Favorite are blooming at the moment--the others probably will within a week or so. So far, the color of everything but these tulips looks good. Does that mean that the soil is okay and it's just in the nature of this particular tulip to have a weaker color in the second year? Or maybe I need to provide some type of amendment? Or maybe I gave them too much? They were so beautiful last year.

Sorry to go on about the rest of the "family," but if the soil was poor, it would affect their health too, right? Of course, yes, the soil can be very good for most of the plants but not appropriate for another. Here're pictures that might help.

The faded, slightly dark reddish color this year:
Thumb of 2018-05-08/joannakat/b3bd98

And last year:
Thumb of 2018-05-08/joannakat/61b905

The entire "plot" so far this season:
Thumb of 2018-05-08/joannakat/c3fa99

Here, you can really see how dark the tulip bud is:
Thumb of 2018-05-08/joannakat/cd457c Thumb of 2018-05-08/joannakat/1e84c4

Hope this long answer helps.... Thank You!


AKA Joey.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
May 7, 2018 10:02 PM CST
Pretty much the bulbs are the problem or are reverting to what ever they once were.
Dig them up and see what you have and what you get next year.
I learned that tulips are not worth too much worry as you have to dig them any way.
Black Gumbo is black soil that is heavy like clay but not as gummy as clay.
[Last edited by RpR - May 8, 2018 11:17 AM (+)]
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North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
May 7, 2018 10:13 PM CST
RpR said:Pretty much the bulbs are the problem or are reverting to what ever they once were.
Dig them up and see you have and what you get next year.
I learned that tulips are not worth too much worry as you have to dig them any way.
Black Gumbo is black soil that is heavy like clay but not as gummy as clay.


Thanks @RpR. These are supposed to bloom two years in a row with no promises after that.

I'll dig them up mostly because I'll be digging up the Veronas which are right next to them but I don't know if I'll replant them. I loved the bright, bright red of last season.

Did you say something about solid color tulips being true to their colors over the years?

Thanks for the Black Gumbo info--I had never heard of it!

AKA Joey.

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