Tulipa sprengeri has a reputation for being difficult, but it is usually one of the easiest of the tulip species to grow from seed. Thought to be extinct in the wild, it is native of the Amaya region of North West Turkey. In cultivation, it appears to be relatively tolerant of a variety of conditions, and once established it will seed around a garden, growing from full sun to the shade of deciduous trees and shrubs.
Sow seed in autumn the year it is collected, direct in the place you want it to grow, or in pots outside.
Sow direct into the ground. Scatter thinly over an area of good soil, cover very thinly, leaving some seeds showing. Mark the area
carefully. Seed should germinate from March onwards. They will make a single thin leaf-like the first small shoot of germinating onion seed. You need to weed with great care! They soon
disappear, the following year single ‘blades will appear, still treat with care!
Third-year plants are shown on the right. This shows the growing plants bury themselves, by sending down ‘droppers’, making a new bulb at the bottom of the ‘dropper’ taking food from the previous year’s bulb. This occurs for 3-4 years until the bulb settles at about 15cms deep. It will now start flowering.
Sowing in Pots. Sow thinly on/near the surface, in 2 litre pots or deeper pots (ie clematis pots). Leave undisturbed for two or three years, giving light liquid feeds each year when the leaves are showing. Plant out just at the leaves are browning and bulbs about to go dormant. Make a hole large enough for the whole pot and hope it holds together as you plant it – good luck.
The ideal companion. It is ideal to sow and grow Tulipa sprengeri in groups of Bearded Iris. Firstly the only way to weed bearded iris is by hand, enabling you to avoid hoeing your precious tulip seedlings. Equally important Tulipa sprengeri grows best if dry in winter (ie under snow in Turkey) and wet in spring/early summer (presumably snow melt). Bearded irises make new roots every year from June to October. The old roots are dead by the time the irises flower and the Tulips need water, so they let through any available water. Tulipa sprengeri, once established, can self seed, and is not that fussy about where it grows.
These packets contain a generous amount of seed so that you have enough to try growing in both pots and the ground if you so wish.