This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area



September 21, 2013

Preparing a planting bed for tulips in the desert

No, you can't grow tulips here in the Phoenix, Arizona area. You can plant them and watch them die, and that's about it. So when I started pondering tulips, I asked the experts at Easy to Grow Bulbs. No, they don't pay me to say this. I wish they would. But actually, I'm just glad to know a place like this with this type of expertise. And when I have some money floating around in Paypal that I have long since forgotten about, I buy some stuff from them.

The recommendation that I got from them was Tulip Dasystemon Tarda. And if it doesn't really look like a tulip to you, I understand. It's what tulips looked like before the Dutch started hybridizing them in the 1500s into the forms we know today. And the modern forms, you know the ones developed after the 1500s, can be pretty tricky to grow unless you have the right climate for them. And it's not the desert!

I'm experimenting mostly. And since I've never seen these growing anywhere in the valley (I did see them at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum), I will just give them the best care that I know. And that starts with preparing their planting bed.

The first thing, of course, is to remove the existing native soil. I love living in Arizona, but my plants don't. They live in holes in Arizona filled with potting soil. And if you're wondering what my "secret" is, it's potting soil. This area is a sunny place (where everything died in the summer) and with a bit of a tilt, which will help show off the flowers. I call this the "apron" of this part of my garden. It's where I can plant small flowers and not only see them, but reach them easily to care for them.

This is the old adage "dig a $100 for a $50 tree". This is the best I can do for them. When they arrive, they will have a comfortable home and the best of care. And we'll see. I'll let you know.

The photo above is from Easy to Grow Bulbs. Used with permission. I hope mine do as well here!

How to plant Tulips in the desert


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