Back in Fall of 2013, I purchased a bag of pastel color tulips from a local store. All 40 bulbs were planted under a Japanese Maple Tree, and bloomed beautifully the next spring, in April 2014.
* * * * *
A year later in March 2015, the flower production was not quite as spectacular.
* * * * *
I am suspicious this is inherent in tulips, that they bloom less every year the bulbs stay in the ground. Or it could be a plan by the tulip breeders, to get customers to buy fresh bulbs every year.
I decided to dig up the bulbs under this particular tree, divide them and replant in the fall. It doesn’t seem like I have a lot to lose, especially if the flowers diminish even more next year.
So . . I went on a treasure hunt. After hours of shoveling and sifting with my fingers through the dirt, I had over a gallon of bulbs in a bucket (about 5 liters). The bulbs had definitely multiplied, but none were near as large as the original bulbs. Next, I sorted the bulbs by size. I selected the forty largest bulbs and put these aside to replant under the Japanese Maple tree. Into another container I put fifty of the next size down bulbs. And into another container went 100 of the next size bulbs (very close to the same size as the 50 bulbs). Containers 4 & 5 hold 150 bulbs each, and in the last container went hundreds of very small bulbets.
If I looked at it as multiplication, I hit the jackpot by turning 40 bulbs into more than 500. Or I could look at my ‘winnings’ from a different point of view and see a very slight increase in bulb volume.
This fall, the plan is to plant as many bulbs as I can. I will try to note where each size goes, so I can learn if they all have a chance of blooming again. I’m wondering what is done commercially? Do the tulip farms replant all the small bulbs? Do the bulbs take more than one year to grow large enough to be marketed? I hope be able to answer some of these questions next spring!