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In a word No! Some tulips will naturalise but most weaken after a season or so and you do need free draining soil. Even if you dig them up dont expect them all to come back when replanted. Some people treat them as annuals.
I plant a few pots each year with packs from Lidl. After dead-heading I feed with tomato fertiliser, or home-made comfrey fertiliser, until they die down. Then I shove the pots behind the greenhouse and forget them. If I remember I empty each pot in the late autumn (November) and if the bulbs look any good I repot them in new compost and leave in the unheated greenhouse over winter. If they look manky I toss them nthe compost bin. Perhaps that's why I have some interesting tulips flowering in odd places in the garden this year, adding welcome and unexpected splash of colour.
Hyacinths get planted anywhere not too wet (I'm on heavy clay too) - mine are under an apple tree and they continue to multiply every year - again I feed with tomato food after flowering and then forget about them.
I think it's getting an adequate depth of composty soil on top of your clay that could be the sticking point.
It really is hardy worht growing hybrid tulips to come back year on year as most of them don't. I do have a few that have retuned for several years, but mostly I regard them, especially ones grown in pots, as annuals. They are relatively inexpensive nowadays. The old Queen of the Night has come back a pretty lightish purple for several years, many shades lighter than originally, but still good. There are a few bright red ones here and there that come back, but most do not. The little specie tulips do come back, at least for a few years.
Hi folks just a point my father in law had a great display of tulips last year (in pots) then ain't mid July he bucked all the bulbs out into his garden as he put new things in the pots this year he had the most wonderful tulip display in the garden. I'm not saying do thsesame but it seems to work for some! Charlie I don think I'd be bothered with tht drying out malarkey either.
What is it that stops tulips coming back? Are they eaten or do they need different soil or more summer baking? Is there anything we can do to help them?
As Bookertoo says the species tulips come back, I've had some for years.And there are one or two persistant flowerers leftover from plantins of a dozen or more but, on the whole, nothing much
I have just been reading Sarah Raven's guide to growing tulips.
Her recommendation is to plant deeply, and by deeply we are looking at a 12" hole with 2" of gravel for drainage and a bit of bonemeal. This is done October/November and then, after flowering, the old leaves are cleared away and the patch mulched.
She claims that there is no advantage to lifting tulips and that shallow planting encourages the bulbs to try to divide and thus weaken themselves.
Thanks Tootsietim. mine are all in pots this year, (because I didn't get round to planting them) I shall be drying them off as advised here and in November I shall be digging a deep hole.
I do what Sarah Raven says and plant deep, usually the Darwin ones come back and a selection of others too, but this winter it rained so much even some of the newly planted ones didn't appear and only about a third of the old ones.
I do agree with that re the fact that tulip bulbs divide, but have never found that even planting them up to 15 inches deep has made any difference here. I think that maybe the hybrids are just not strong enough to reflower, unlike the species. After all, those wonderful colours and shapes were all bred by people from the 2 or 3 original species, so maybe not too surprising they are not so long lived?
IME some varieties do return in the borders & I'm always pleased to see them. I now grow mine in pots & throw them away when over.
Word of warning- dont put tulip bulbs in your compost bin, or 'they will come back to haunt you' (Helen Yemm)! I suspect that's where some of my 'border' ones have come from. J.
I too have mine planted deeply and don't lift them - life's too short to be lifting Tulips every year.
I have several varieties in my front garden and most of them come back year on year. I add chicken manure in early spring and potash after they've flowered. My favourite is Queen of the Night. While many plants collapse in wind and rain this one never does
One of the main reasons tulips tend not to come again is that naturally they come from the mountains of Turkey and Iran where they grow on shale so they have perfect drainage. They also get truly baked in the summer. We can never really replicate those conditions.
Perhaps that's why mine come back in normal years. I'm in Dordogne on rocky limestone and it bakes in the summer.
That might explain mine Punkdoc. Though I'm in the UK, it's a south facing border with very good drainage