Journey North International Tulip Study
Welcome to the Journey North Tulip Project!
The instructions below should be followed carefully so that all Journey North gardens are planted in the same way. Remember, your tulips are intended to indicate the arrival of spring in your community. Therefore, every effort should be made to plant them in an area that best represents
What Kind of Tulips to Plant
All Journey North gardens must be planted with the same variety of tulips, the Red Emperor variety. This is because different tulip varieties bloom at different times in the spring. They are categorized as "early", "mid-season" and "late" blooming varieties. Since Journey North classrooms will announce the first tulips to bloom in the spring, an "early" blooming variety was needed. Red Emperor tulips are an "early" blooming variety. They were selected because they are easy to find in most areas and are easy to grow. (Click Here for Ordering Information for Red Emperor bulbs.)
When to Plant Your Tulips
All gardens in warm regions (Zones 8-11) should be planted during the week of January 4, 1999. This date has been set in order to standardize our experiment. However, if your local nursery advises other planting dates for your region, please write back and let us know. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Before You Plant
SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR WARM REGIONS
If you live in California or one of the Gulf States, you may need to refrigerate your tulip bulbs to "force dormancy". Consult a "USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map" and check if you're located in Zone 8, 9, 10 or 11. If you live in one of these Zones, you must force dormancy. (Plant Hardiness Zone maps are easy to find in any gardening book, on the back of seed packets, at a local garden store or from the Extension Service.)
Here's Why: Tulips are accustomed to a change of seasons and a cold period. In order to plant tulips outdoors and meet the chilling requirements, the soil temperatures must be 40-45 degrees or colder. Since temperatures your region may not meet this chilling requirement, your tulips might not grow without it.
How To Force Dormancy
You must refrigerate your bulbs at 40-45 degrees for at least 6 weeks. To be ready for planting the week of January 4th, your bulbs must be in the refrigerator by November 24th. Place the bulbs in a brown paper bag. If possible, put them in peat and keep them moist but not wet. Do not remove them until you are ready to plant.
Very Important: Do Not Store Fruit in Your Refrigerator at the Same Time With Tulips! Apples and other fruits give off ethylene gas, a natural by-product of ripening fruit. This gas will delay or kill the flower buds. Therefore, do not store tulips or any flower bulbs with fruit.
Report to Journey North Before December 1st
REPORT back to Journey North before December 1st and confirm that you PLAN to plant an official garden. To report, simply press the owl button and a Field Data Form will appear.
SOUND CONFUSING? Here is a further explanation: On December 11th, we will post a list of all official Journey North gardens. Participants will be then be able to contact partner schools and exchange predictions and data. In cold regions, people will have already planted--and reported from--their gardens by early December. Because you won't plant your garden until January, and because we want to include your school on the participant list, you must report back BEFORE your garden is planted. The REPORT form will ask the date your tulips were planted. USE JANUARY 4, 1999 as your planting date.
Where To Plant Your Garden
Exposure: For consistency, Journey North tulip gardens must NOT be planted near the foundation of a building, in heavy shade, or on steeply sloped ground. This is because areas near buildings or on south-facing slopes warm up more quickly than do the surrounding areas. This would cause your bulbs to bloom earlier than they should in your region. Similarly, north-facing or heavily shaded areas would cause a delay in booming. Tulip bulbs can be planted in full sun or partial shade, but should not be planted in heavily-shaded areas.
Drainage: Bulbs need good drainage because they will rot if they sit in moisture. Therefore, plant them in well-drained soil and/or on slightly sloped ground. As a rule of thumb, avoid planting bulbs where water stands after a rain. A good loam soil is best. If the soil is heavy clay, add organic matter such as compost or peat moss to loosen it.
How to Plant Your Bulbs
For simplicity, tulip bulbs can be planted in a bed rather than individually. The entire bed should be planted at the proper depth, as specified below. It is a good idea to fertilize bulbs by adding bone meal and mixing it well with the soil. If you choose to plant bulbs individually, either a garden trowel or a bulb-plating tool can be used.
Depth & Spacing: Bulbs in all Journey North gardens should buried so that the base of each bulb is exactly 7 inches underground. (Blooming time can vary by a week or two if bulbs are not planted at the same depth. In fact, gardeners who want to prolong blooming time will intentionally plant their bulbs at varying depths.) Bulbs should be spaced 4 inches apart.
Placement of Bulb: Set bulbs firmly in place with the POINTED END UP. The hole should be flat on the bottom so that the FLAT BASE of the bulb is in contact with the ground. Cover with soil and water thoroughly. Moisture is necessary for the bulbs to take root before winter. If dry weather persists after planting, water thoroughly and deeply. However, do not keep the soil soggy or the bulbs could rot. After the ground freezes, apply about a six inch mulch of clean straw or leaves. Do not cover the bulbs before the ground freezes. The wet mulch could cause the bulbs to rot, and the mulch could also delay the freezing of the ground
Predator Control: Squirrels are the most common tulip bulb predators in urban and suburban areas. They are attracted to the smell of fresh bulbs and are most likely to destroy gardens within the first weeks after planting. For inexpensive and effective protection, cover your newly planted bulbs immediately with chicken wire. Secure the edges with wire hangers that have been cut, formed into a U shape, and driven into the ground. Alternatively, bulbs can be covered with a board or with the saucer of a flower pot.
Spring and Summer Care
Remove the winter mulch as soon as the shoots are 1-2 inches high. Otherwise, the stems and leaves may be weak. Remove blooms as soon as they are faded in order to conserve energy for next year's flowers. Do not cut the leaves until they turn yellow and wither. These leaves are needed to produce the nutrition for next year's tulips. Bulbs may be fertilized after the blooms fade. This is the critical time in which they make the most use of the fertilizer. Liquid applications of a 10-10-10 fertilizer can be applied as long as the leaves appear green and vigorous.
Can We Re-Use This Year's Bulbs Next Year?
Unfortunately, no! New bulbs must be planted each year for the Journey North study. This is because too many variables affect tulip growth in the second year for the experiment to be dependable.
However, you can save your bulbs for experimental purposes! Students can compare the growth of the experimental bulbs from year to year and vary such things as the amount of sun, heat, water, and fertilizer received, the affect of cutting the leaves, etc. Next fall, purchase at least a dozen or more new bulbs for your "official" Journey North garden. Then dig up this year's bulbs prior to planting your new bulbs. Have students weigh & inspect them before replanting. Remember, however, for the Journey North experiment you may only report on the growth and blooming of the new, "official" bulbs.
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