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Tulips - some white & slightly distorted foliage

I have tulips growing in a well drained raised bed contained within a brick surround, others in the normal ground level soil in my garden and others in 16" diameter pots. They were al  planted in about October - November 2012 and they all produced a superb display in the spring of 2013. I let them all die back naturally during the summer.

This spring, the plants in the 16" pots are growing well, but 50% of those in the raised bed & 20% of those in the garden have several white distorted leaves. They are all however in bud and just showing colour.. I have also noticed that some of my Spanish Bluebells also have white leaves, but they are not quiite in bud. I cannot find anywhere a description of what the problem may be. I did wonder if it was anything to do with the exceptionally wet winter we have had here in Kent, especially as the problem appears to be across 2 species. Can anyone offer up any solutions please?


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,863

    Tulips can contract viruses which cause discolouration of petals and leaves, and some distortion

    Information here 


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Thank, I missed this one. I think I shall stick to daffodils in future. My venture into tulps was an expensive one!

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,863

    Daffodils will increase in number and naturalise - the cool damp English climate suits them - tulips tend to deteriorate over a few years as they need hot dry summers to bake their bulbs.  I grow most of my tulip in pots and replace them every couple of years. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Thanks Dove, I have seen tulips grown in pots as you describe in the mediteranean dome at The Eden Project. Quite the most amazing display I have ever seen.

    I guess I will have to dig all the tulips up & buy a lot of new pots & bulbs this autumn. However I might experiment with some healthy bulbs after they have died back early in the summer. I'll let them cook in the greenhouse before replanting in pots next November. 


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,863

    Sounds a good idea image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,348

    It's interesting that you've said the ones in the pots are doing well.  I think it's the best solution for tulips personally, or else accept growing them as annuals. Drainage seems to be the most important factor. I've got a few red tulips that I've had for donkey's years - and they've moved house several times with me - in pots. They're growing well right now. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • I love tulips, but too have had some come up deformed. However, do not give up!

    As Dovefromabove says, take them up when they don't perform, and replace them.

    • Try them in a sunnier position.
    • Ensure good drainage.
    • Plant them deep enough (twice the depth of the bulb).

    In Autumn/winter, I plant up containers in layers. Tulip bulbs - Daffodil bulbs - Then any other plants on the very top.This way you get a long and highly anticipated display - where the tulips come up after the daffodils.


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