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Brighten up with a pot of tulips

My wife and I had friends visit near the end of February and they brought us a pot of tulips. Although their visit was enough to lighten our spirits on a cloudy, winter day, the tulips continued to perform that task for the next couple of weeks — long after they had departed.

When it arrived, this pot of tulip bulbs had healthy-looking green leaves, and the buds were still not open, in fact they were barely showing colour. I placed the pot in full sun in front of the patio doors to prevent the plants from getting leggy, which they are apt to do if located in a low-light location. I kept the planting medium damp and slipped the pot out of its plastic sleeve and popped it into a decorative jardinière. I don’t trust the sleeves — sometimes they have pinholes in them that allow water to seep out, and they also trap excess water around the bulbs’ roots. In a jardinière I can sit the pot on an inverted plastic lid so excess water drains away and sits below the bottom of the pot.

When the buds were just ready to open, I moved the pot onto the dining room table so we could enjoy the blooms. They would have gone past more quickly if left in the sunny location but also we wanted the flowers where we could see them. They lasted for almost two weeks.

Since then I have kept the pot in the sunroom on a windowsill where the tops will gradually die down. I will feed and water it until the foliage begins to yellow. In late spring, after the rush of planting has past, I will plant the bulbs out into my garden. The bulbs will be dormant by this time and the foliage will have died down. I’ll cover the bulbs with about 10 cm of soil and water the spot after planting — although the bulbs hopefully will remain dormant until they push up new growth next spring and we may again enjoy the pretty pink blooms.

Sometimes it takes a full year for the bulbs to recover from being forced and to get back into their natural cycle so I will not be too disappointed if the bulbs do not bloom next spring. I won’t give up on them, however, and will feed and water them all next spring and summer until they again go dormant in midsummer. They will most likely bloom the following spring.

If you know someone who is in need of a bit of cheer — or perhaps you yourself are in need of a pick-me-up, a pot of flowering tulips is just the thing to bring a smile.

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