Planting Spring-blooming bulbs in Cyprus can be a bit of a gamble. The anticipated riot of colour that follows the planning and planting of Autumn-planted bulbs can turn out to be a disappointing display of lacklustre, straggly flowers with small blooms.
The reason is, despite the plethora of bulbs available for sale in garden centres, DIY stores and even some supermarkets, not all of these bulbs are suitable for our warm Mediterranean climate. Some of the most popular Autumn-planted bulbs require a winter period of around 3 months in soil that is below 10 degrees C in order to spring them into action. It is possible to play a little trick on nature by storing these bulbs in a fridge in a paper or mesh bag, or egg carton (being careful to store them away from fruit, as the gasses they emit can destroy fruit), but that isn’t always practical.
Alternatively, you can ensure the bulbs you plant are ideally suited to our warmer climes. A good example of Spring bulbs that thrive in the Mediterranean is the family of Botanical Tulips, also known as Miniature Tulips. Botanical tulips are smaller in size, growing to a height of between 15-40cm and flourish in warmer climates like Cyprus’. They are hardy and naturalise easily, which means they will return year after year in greater numbers.
The endemic Tulipa Cypria is a great example of a botanical tulip. This beautiful bright red bloom used to be found commonly across the island. Unfortunately, widespread use of pesticides and increased agricultural use has made this lovely tulip a relatively rare sight. Luckily, through the efforts of The Tulip Club of Polemi and the Tulip Festival they formed in 2002, visitors can once again enjoy the gorgeous spectacle of this island native carpeting the landscape. Tulipa Cypria is of course a protected species so cannot be picked, nor the bulbs dug up for replanting or cultivation. Fortunately, there is a great range of colourful, pretty botanical tulips that can be purchased and planted in your own garden.
Another tulip that does well in Cyprus is the Darwin Tulip. This is a fantastic hybrid known for its large, shapely blooms and tall, sturdy stems. Darwin Tulips come in a great range of colours and styles and are famously long-lasting, hardy and reliable. They also make superb cut flowers.
Other Autumn-planted bulbs to consider that thrive in our climate are the always-stunning Amaryllis; Crocus Sativus – the saffron producing crocus; Ixias – also known as Corn Lily; Anemones – in fact, we have some anemone species that grow wild in Cyprus; Dutch Iris; Paperwhites; Ornithogalum Arabicum – also known as Arabian Starflowers; and Alliums – again, we have some Alliums that grow wild on the island.
A tip to always bear in mind is, the warmer your climate, the later you should plant your bulbs. Night temperatures should have dropped to below 10 degrees C, which is mostly the case in Cyprus by November. Also, your bulbs should be planted no later than January.
Flower enthusiasts living on the island now have the opportunity to buy world-class Autumn-planted bulbs online from Holland. DutchGrown™ ships their flower bulbs from its family-run farm in Holland directly to your doorstep in Cyprus at the optimal planting time during the Autumn months. Cypriot Flower Bulb fans can visit the EU website of DutchGrown.
UK Flower Bulb gardeners can best visit the UK website.
If you plan on growing tulips in Cyprus, then as mentioned, we recommend the Botanical Tulips or the Darwin Hybrid Tulips, which are most suited for our warmer Mediterranean climate. Happy planting!