Tulips would be the perfect plant for Maine if they weren’t so tasty to mice, squirrels, chipmunks, deer and woodchucks. They come in a wide variety of colors, heights and bloom times; love cold winters; and produce reliably.

You should plant them between now and Thanksgiving. I prefer to plant them late, so pests have less time to dig up and dine on them before the ground freezes.

1094350_483493 tulips2.jpgTulips prefer areas with full or afternoon sun, so choose a fairly open site. They also prefer well-drained soil. If Maine’s drought continues, you will want to water them this fall – but not next spring. Tulips don’t do well in places with irrigation systems.

Plant tulips about 8 inches deep – but loosen the soil even deeper than 8 inches – and 6 inches apart. The Farmers Almanac says you can put thorny or prickly stems such as holly or roses above the bulbs to deter pests, and you also can use chicken wire.

Deer love the just-sprouted shoots, so if you have deer in your garden, spray deer repellent after planting and watering your bulbs.

Tulips look best in groupings, so plant at least three and as many as 50 of one color and mix them in with other tulips or spring-flowering bulbs.

Once they are done blooming, cut off the spent flowers but let the leaves turn yellow or brown before removing them, and you should have blooms for many years to come.

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