As a child growing up in Northern Ohio, I recall yards filled with countless tulip and daffodil blooms. I even got in trouble once for “borrowing” red tulip flowers from a local park planted by a gardening club; I was only 5 and did not know any better. I guess I have always had an affinity for flowers.
When my husband, Mr. Michael J. Fileppe’s job was transferred 25 years ago it took us all the way to Kingsland, Georgia (Zone 8b). What a change in climate did I experience! We moved into our home in January so it wasn’t long before I could expect to see spring color! I soon started seeing Hellebore, Magnolias, Azaleas and Dogwoods. When I noticed yellow daffodils in properties scattered about I was filled with excitement. Could I be in for the spring show of a lifetime? The array of color created by the spring blooms on various trees and shrubs was magnificent…and last quite a while! I thought the icing on the cake was to be my favorite flower: tulips of varying shapes, colors and sizes! But sad to say, there was little to no icing on this gal’s cake.
I simply assumed tulips, along with my other favorite spring-flowering bulbs, grew everywhere since they grew in Ohio. After all, why shouldn’t they grow in Georgia? Apparently, I was sadly mistaken and soon found out that tulips require cold temperatures in order to bloom. And when I say cold temperatures, I do not mean one day of 65 degrees temperatures in winter. Tulips require consistent temperatures below 50 degrees for about 12-16 weeks in order to bloom. This may lead you to wonder how I manage to still see my favorite spring blooming bulbs in without heading north.
In order to experience the tulips I love so much, I keep a spare refrigerator in my garage. In October, I place the tulips in paper bags. I then keep these paper bags in the refrigerator until January. Since the ground is not frozen in January here in Kingsland, I then plant them outdoors. This way they receive enough of a cold period to get those big colorful blooms I love so much! I also will pot some up in plastic pots with well-drained soil, water them in well and place them in the cold until February. After they have received their cold period, I gradually move them to a warm and sunny spot in my home for a late winter showing! One other important tip: do not place the tulip bulbs in the freezer. This will cause the bulbs to freeze solid and once they thaw, they will be nothing but mush. I made this mistake only once and Mr. Michael J. Fileppe was not so happy about the rotten mess it left in the fridge!
ABOUT MRS. FILEPPE
Mrs. Fileppe is an avid perennial and bulb gardener in the Southern US. She has tended to private gardens for the past 25 years and to her own gardens as well. Both recently retired, Celia and her husband, Michael J., spend most of their time in the garden with their three cats and two dogs, digging, dividing and weeding and of course, also blogging about their experiences!