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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - March 25, 2008

From: Philadelphia, PA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Propagation of non-native tulips in pots
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have received a large quantity of eco-cups, some are for our pilot project, First Bloom. But we so many, we wanted to include the entire Club, Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia, Germantown Unit, pre-school, school-age and the teens, in planting mothers' day plants. Can tulips grow this fast,inside the Club, before May 10?

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native to North America. Unfortunately, the tulip is not native, and therefore somewhat out of our range of experience. Not only that, tulips are pretty hard to grow in Texas, it just doesn't get cold enough for the bulbs, and most of us don't have room in our refrigerators for a bunch of bulbs. We did look at a couple of websites, including this one from Floridata, and this one from Wikipedia, from which you may be able to get more information. Just at a quick glance, we can tell you it is not possible to sprout those bulbs to flowers in that short a time. Most of the propagation advice is that they be planted in Fall, to bloom in the Spring. Obviously, the tulips you buy for Mother's Day are hothouse grown, and expensive. One mention of propagating tulips said that you could plant the small offshoot bulbs from a larger bulb, but that it would take two or three years for it to bloom. We hope you find something else to plant; it's a lovely idea for Mother's Day.
 

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