Bone Meal: Key to Perfect Tulips

(Image by Jessie Keith)

If you dream of the Dutch fields full of perfect tulips but find your fall-planted bulbs disappointing come spring, then maybe your bulbs are just hungry. While bulbs are rather self-contained little packages, the one thing they can use during the long winter is phosphorus and lots of it. This macro-nutrient drives root growth which helps your bulbs become better established come bloom time. The age-old organic way to get it is with bone meal. Dig your hole, then loosen the soil at the bottom, add one tablespoon of bone meal and mix well. Then set your big, juicy tulip bulb onto this soft enriched earth and cover it up. For smaller bulbs use a half tablespoon. Remember, this nutrient doesn’t move much so if you don’t put it down there, roots won’t find it.

About Maureen Gilmer

Maureen Gilmer is celebrating her 40th year in California horticulture and photojournalism as the most widely published professional in the state. She is the author of 21 books on gardening, design and the environment, is a widely published photographer, and syndicated with Tribune Content Agency. She is the weekly horticultural columnist for the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs and contributes to Desert Magazine, specializing on arid zone plants and practices for a changing climate. She works and lives in the remote high desert for firsthand observations of native species. Her latest book is The Colorful Dry Garden published by Sasquatch Books. When not writing or photographing she is out exploring the desert on her Arabian horse. She lives in Morongo Valley with her husband Jim and two rescue pit bulls. When not writing or photographing she is usually out riding her quarter horse.

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