Winter Wonderland

January 10, 2018 by Mary Hosier

Is there a climate too cold for tulips to survive?

Students explore planting sites near their school in Shageluk, Alaska.

Planting in January
Warm region gardeners are planting their tulip Test Gardens now, in early January. The garden bulbs have experienced cold conditions similar to the rest of the bulbs planted this fall. The difference is that these garden bulbs spent 6 weeks in the refrigerator to satisfy their cold dormancy requirement. Whose garden will emerge first? Watch the 2018 map and predict when your garden will emerge!

Evaluating Tulips in Alaska
Can tulips grow successfully in very cold climates like Shageluk, Alaska? This is the question that students at Innoko River School have been testing for almost 20 years. What variables have they tested?

  • soil conditions - frozen or not at planting
  • amount of snow cover
  • amount of sunlight

A Question About Time
“Red Emperor tulip bulbs don’t grow well in our environment. In the spring when other Test Gardens start bursting forth with strength and vigor ours are still in a frozen state. Maybe deep within their genetic material there is a file labeled, TIME,” wrote teacher Joyanne Hamilton.

New Test Idea:
Next year they will alter the experimental protocol by planting a different type/variety of tulip bulb to compare what happens.