Tulipa sprengeri

totototo@telus.net totototo@telus.net
Sun, 16 May 2010 14:31:49 PDT
On 16 May 2010, at 11:46, James Waddick wrote:

> Dear friends,
>  Tulipa sprengeri is just in bud and coloring up. This is our 
> latest tulip  to bloom by far and long after every other tulip has 
> faded and nearly or totally dormant. In its own way it is a treasure 
> and I need many more. It is extremely slow to multiply by traditional 
> division methods here (and I understand this is typical for this 
> species). I have some seedlings coming along, but I still want more 
> and to try it in other parts of the garden. Instant gratification (in 
> bulb terms that means bloom in a couple of years)
>  Does anyone have bulbs for sale, trade or can suggest a 
> reasonable source for bulbs of typical or 'Trotter's Form" (which I 
> do not grow at all) ?
>  Appreciate any growing hints or even more praise for this 
> unusual species.

Ah, my favorite tulip, dear to my heart but slowly taking over my garden.

Sow seed in deep flats as soon as it's ripe. Germination next spring. Leave in 
the flats at least until the young bulbs go dormant in 2012. (IOW give them two 
growing seasons in the flats.) Be sure the flats aren't on soil so the young 
bulbs can't escape.

Try to keep the seedlings growing as long as possible. I'm uncertain whether 
fertilization is desirable, so you might want to try fertilizing one flat and 
not fertilize a second flat, then report back.

In summer 2012, dump out the flats and pick out the small bulbs that have 
formed. Plant these out, then sit back and wait. It takes several years before 
T. sprengeri reaches flowering size.

If you like to take a gamble, just scatter the ripe seed where you want to 
establish this tulip. However, critters like tulip seed and your climate may 
not be as congenial to tulips spreading by seed as is our cool Mediterranean, 
summer-dry PacNW climate. Many years ago, in a misguided moment I scattered a 
large quantity of T. sprengeri on Saltspring Island, but I've never seen one 
flower of it at any of the sites I seeded. Life in the wild is hard on plants, 
hence you will get better long-term results sowing the seed in flats as 

Bulbs of T. sprengeri are scarce even in commerce because it has to be seed 
grown. Anyone who finds a specimen that multiplies well vegetatively should 
take steps to get it into the hands of the Dutch bulb growers, even if you 
don't make much money out of the deal.

As for 'Trotter's Form' (named after R. D. "Dick" Trotter, the long-time 
treasurer of the RHS), I have a few seed-grown bulbs that purport to be this, 
but I see no difference between them and the many other specimens I have. I've 
never found a clear, unambiguous description of the difference between run of 
the mill T. sprengeri and 'Trotter's Form'.

It's a truly lovely plant, its only drawback being its propensity to spread far 
and wide. In the earliest years of the AGS seed exchange (ca. 1950), the then-
director of the exchange, E. B. Anderson, specifically asked that no seed be 
sent in of T. sprengeri: it's that easy to grow.

Over and out to Jane McGary.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate
on beautiful Vancouver Island


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