For the past several years I have successfully killed my tulips. Not the ones in the ground, mind you. Those are just fine. But the poor suckers stuffed in a pot every fall are doomed to a slow mushy death caused by soggy potting soil. Like many relationships, the beginning was glorious. Old, cheap soil was filled with bulbs, they grew and blossomed and all was well. There was no confusion, frustration, or disappointment: just happy bulbs and bright flowers. A huge pot of bright blooms greeted me before work and I felt smug in my success.
But the soil loved by the tulips was loathed by my summer annuals and I spent too many afternoons in the heat and humidity lugging a hose around trying to keep everything moist. It was time for an upgrade to premium, moisture retentive soil. But the soil that kept my annuals happy caused my tulips to rot.
I was really hoping I'd be able to design, build, engineer or at least quote my favorite Martian astronaut by yelling from my patio steps, "I'm going to have to science the shit out of this!" but, alas, the problem was solved in less than five minutes. Sigh....
Problem: Moisture-retentive potting soil used to help keep summer annuals moist caused the tulips to rot.
Solution: Amend the soil with rocks to improve drainage.
Problem: My soil is now full of rocks
Solution: Create a basket out of cheap, flexible screening that will allow water to flow through the rocks while also allowing me to easily lift and remove the rocks/soil.
I removed about half the soil and lined the pot with super cheapo screening mesh.
I added rocks, soil, and some bulb fertilizer.
I threw in some bargain basement bulbs, covered them with soil, and waited for a pot full of glorious tulips to greet me in the morning before work.
A few rotted, a few were too lazy to bloom, and a few were just fine. But true to my nature, I refuse to give up. Identify problem - solve problem - move forward. It is simply how I am wired. I'll try again next year with more rocks, less soil, and high quality early blooming bulbs.
Clematis 'Fair Rosamond'
Or maybe I'll just throw in the trowel and say 'To hell with all those damn tulips! Who needs fussy bulbs when there are clematis!'
Or I might not.....