Q: I have recently returned from a trip to Amsterdam, where I ordered tulips. Will they do well here?
A: I’m sure they will bloom well next spring as long as you keep the squirrels from digging them up. Unfortunately, they may not do so well over time. The main reason is that tulips are not adapted to our climate or our soils. Tulips are native to the mountains of central Asia, where the soils are thin and rocky. Cool, wet springs there are followed by hot, dry summers. Tulip bulbs that spend the summer in moist Georgia soil tend to split apart and don’t gather the energy to bloom again. Dutch growers subject their tulips to a complicated series of heat and humidity treatments in huge bulb sheds each summer, which replicate the tulip’s native Himalayan habitat. The bulbs are shipped to us ready for fall planting and winter chilling, which is the last step in preparing a tulip to flower. You can increase the chances for two years of bloom by planting your tulips eight inches deep in very sandy soil.