Bulbose: Tulip Tulipa spp.

Bulbose: Tulip Tulipa spp.

Classification, origin and description

Family: Liliaceae
Genus: Tulipa
Common name: Tulip

Typology: Perennials, Bulbose
Propagation: division, seed

Etymology: the term Tulipa it seems to be a corruption of the name given by the Turks to the headgear of the Schiavoni: tulipa from the Turkish "tulban" or "turban", but letymology is not sure.

The Tulip is a flower of eastern origin and in the East its cultivation began about a thousand years ago. In Europe it was imported in the mid-sixteenth century from Constantinople and first spread to Vienna. Its cultivation in the Netherlands began around 1593. Within a few years all the Dutch were taken over by tulipomania: in Lille a brewer gave up his brewery in exchange for a bulb, which was called the Brasserie Tulipe in memory of this episode. In the eighteenth century the tulip had a real triumph in Turkey, despite having already been cultivated for a long time before. In the 19th century, the passion for this flower exploded in England, in particular around the middle of the century with the introduction of new species from Central Asia and new varieties created by the breeders.

Tulip flowers (website photo)

The Tulipa genus includes from 150 to 300 species (the boundaries between species and species are very uncertain), widespread between eastern and central Asia, North Africa and Europe.

How it is grown

The tulip is an easy flower to grow: just put it in a pot or in the ground in the garden. If you want our tulips (and here we talk about hybrid hybrids) to continue to bloom and multiply for several years, you need to fertilize the soil so that the bulb does not consume everything in the first year, but manages to make up for it, at least in part, of what he lost during flowering.
It prefers clayey well-humus soils. In pot cultivation, use 1 part of woodland, one of peat and one of sand. In pot it is not possible to obtain a second flowering and therefore the bulbs must be planted in the garden.
The planting season runs from late August (mountain areas) to December (southern regions). For most of Italy the best time is between September and October. In the garden you can plant bulbs of species: T. clusiana, T. kaufmanniana, T. sprengeri, T. tarda, T. acuminata, and then leave them wild without removing them from the ground. Tulips should be planted approximately 15-20 cm in each direction. In the vase you can put 3 bulbs in one with a diameter of 10-12 cm. The bulbs must be covered with a layer of potting soil of 10-15 cm.
After flowering, the floral scapes must be broken, in order not to needlessly exhaust the plants, watering is stopped and the leaves are left to dry. When the leaves are completely yellowed (better not to wait for the leaves to dry out), the bulbs are removed from the ground. Then the bulbs are cleaned, the side bulbs are removed and they are placed in iron baskets mixed with dry peat or on benches in an airy, dry and dark place. The bulbs are replanted at the same time as the bulbs, in the nursery, one next to the other to the others, and are treated like large bulbs, removing the floral stem until they have reached the adult stage. The bulbs of the botanical T. that have already bloomed once and are exhausted, will be planted in October in the nursery, in fertile soil; removing the floral scape and thus preventing flowering, it will be possible to obtain the regeneration of the bulb and a better flowering the following year.
Tulips can also be sown in September-October, covering the seeds with an inch of soil in the seedbed. They will sprout the following spring and mature bulbs will only be in the fourth or fifth year. Reproduction is therefore done by division of the bulbs.

Tulip bulbs (website photo)

Species and varieties

The genus Tulipa includes several species. Among the many:

  • Tulipa silvestris L.: originally from Europe, Persia, North Africa, widespread in Italy in fields and pastures.
  • Tulipa clusiana DC: originally from Persia, Afghanistan, Kashmir. Naturalized throughout the Mediterranean area, including Italy.
  • Tulipa praecox Tenore: originally from Iraq, naturalized in the Mediterranean regions, including Italy.
  • Tulipa saxatilis Sieber: originally from the island of Crete and naturalized in Italy.
  • Tulipa gesneriana L .: originally from Turkey and Asia Minor, naturalized in Italy.
  • Tulipa sprengeri Baker: originally from Asia Minor.
  • Tulipa fosteriana Hoog: originally from Central Asia; very large flower species, widely used by breeders.
  • Tulipa kaufmanniana Regel: originally from Central Asia; it is the so-called "Warer Lily" tulip, that is the water lily tulip, due to its resemblance to this flower.
  • Tulipa eichleri ​​Regel: originally from Uzbekistan, Turkestan and Persia .; it has very large flowers.
  • Tulipa greigii L .: originally from Turkestan; it has very large flowers.
  • Tulipa acuminata (Hornem.) Vahl (sin. T. cornuta): very curious tulip, with long and narrow petals, twisted; it is probably a natural hybrid.
  • Tulipa tarda Stapf .: originally from Turkestan; dwarf species with stems that carry 4-6 flowers each.

Tulipa silvestris (photo

Tulipa clusiana (photo Todd Boland

Dutch flower growers have proposed a commercial classification of tulips based on the shape and color of the flowers to group the countless forms and cultivars:

  • Duke of Tholl: they are the earliest tulips, cultivars derived from the Tulipa suaveolens Roth, divided into:
    - Simple precocious: with one-color, shaded or two-colored flowers
    - Double precocious: single-colored, shaded or two-colored flowers
    - Double late: single-colored, shaded or two-colored flowers
  • Darwin: the most prized for the production of the cut flower and the decoration of gardens, with large solid or shaded flowers;
  • Breeder: with large flowers with a remarkable fusion and combination of the colors purple, bronze, orange, yellow, suede;
  • Cottage: for the production of the cut flower, and the decoration of lawns and borders;
  • Triumph: cross between the precocious Simple and the Darwin, suitable for forcing, for the cut flower and the gardens;
  • Lily flower: originating from the cross between a Darwin and Tulipa retroflexa, they have flowers with pointed petals in the apical part, with an appearance similar to lily flowers;
  • Mendel: derived from the cross between the Darwins and the Dukes of Tholl, they are almost as early as the latter and rustic as the former;
  • Rembrandt: with streaked and stained flowers, for gardens;
  • Dragons or Parrots: with flowers with fringed, striped and spotted tepals;
  • Gonzo: similar to the Dragons cultivated for their curious shapes.

White tulip (website photo)

Diseases, pests and adversities

One of the most serious fungal diseases is that caused by Botrytis tulipae which can lead to the death of the plant. Other pathologies of a fungal nature are fusariosis, collar rot and root rot (Phythium spp.), Lantracnosis and leaf rust (Puccinia prostii).
Damage can also be caused by the beetle (Melolontha melolontha), bulb mites (Rhizoglyphus echinopus) and slugs.
Viruses also damage tulips. In some cases viruses are specifically inoculated into plants in order to create particular colors.

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