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Ask the Expert
tulip bulbs the garden emergence! blooming tulips
Photo: JN Photo: Audrey Aubrecht Photo: Teri Bickmore Photo: JN
Overview
Each year students can submit questions to the Tulip Garden Expert about anything related to their test gardens. Here are some sample questions.

Q:  Why do tulips come from bulbs instead of seeds?

A: Actually tulips do form seeds. But it takes several years for tulip plants to flower when grown from these seeds. Lucky for us, tulips also form a bulb, with stored food underground, so we can grow and propagate tulips from a bulb, that will bloom within one year for us!


Q: Where does the tulip come from?

A: Cultivated tulips are related to plants that originated in central Asia. Tulips have been cultivated for over a thousand years. There are now hundreds of different kinds of these very poplar flowers.


Q: "Why do some tulips grow tall and some grow short?" Our kindergarten students talked with older friends in first and second grade about their Journey North gardens. They learned that two years ago the tulips were very tall (1.5 feet) yet since then the tulips were much shorter. Our tallest blooming tulip this year is 8 inches.

A: There is not just one reason that tulips will flower at different heights. Often it is the temperature in the spring. If it gets cold after the plant starts to grow then the plants will be smaller when they flower.


Q: This year my tulips bloomed with almost no flower stalk. Some of them bloomed inside the leaves. What happened?

A: This year, with the warmer spring temperatures, some of the tulip stems did not lengthen at all before flowering. The warm weather ‘hurried their flowering’. Cooler temperatures, 40° - 50° allow the stems to elongate before the flowers formed.


Q: How long are tulips in bloom?

A: If the weather is cool, 40-55 degrees, the flowers will last for 1-2 weeks. If the weather is warmer, above 70 degrees, the flowers may only last for a few days. Tulips like cool weather!


Q. Our class was wondering how do tulips get their colors? How do people tell what color the bulbs are when they package them?

A. Just like you and your classmates have different hair colors, tulips have different colored flower petals and plant characteristics.



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