- Leaves: The broad, strappy leaves have a waxy coating that gives them a blue-green color. There are usually 2-6 leaves per plant.
- Flowers: Flowers are usually cup-shaped, with 3 petals and 3 sepals, although a few varieties are more star-shaped. They have been hybridized in just about every color but blue. The base of the flower is often a darker color. Most tulips have 1 flower per stem, but there are some multi-flowered varieties.
ExposureFull sun to Partial shade. Too much shade will diminish blooming.
- 'Purissima' Very early, pale yellow petals fade to white. Div. - Fosteriana
- 'Ballarina' Fragrant with flared, pointed, orange petals Div. - Lily
- 'Ballarina' - Sunny yellow with white tips that look like feathers. Div. - Fosteriana
- 'Prinses Irene' - Rembrandt-style orange petals streaked with burgundy. Div. - Triumph
- 'Spring Green' - White petals with green center stripes. Late blooming and long lasting. Div. - viridiflora
Some of the cool season annuals, like snapdragons and pansies, make a nice contrast to tulips bowl shape. The blues of Forget-Me-Nots and Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) play up the bold colors of tulips.
Soil: Tulips need a well drained soil. Sandy soil amended with some organic matter is perfect. They also prefer a slightly acidic soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5.
Planting Tulips: Tulips need a chilling period and are planted in the fall. Planting depth should be about 3 times the bulb's diameter; small bulbs will be about 5-6 inches deep, larger bulbs 8-10 inches. Add a handful of bulb food or bone meal at planting time and water well. Keep watering weekly, if it doesn't rain, until the ground freezes. Feed again, when the leaves emerge in the spring.
Once the leaves die back, they will pull easily from the soil. The bulbs prefer to be on the dry side, during summer dormancy.
Feed each spring, when the leaves first appear.
If you have trouble getting your tulips to come back each year, it could be because the winter is not cold enough, the summer is too wet or something has eaten the bulbs. Whatever the reason, you may prefer to grow your tulips as annuals, replanting each fall. It's a bit more work, but you won't need holes as deep as perennialized planting.
Pests & Problems:Tulips are popular with many animals, including deer, squirrels and other rodents. In some areas, it's just not worth planting tulips in the ground. You are better off with tulips in protected containers. You can try deterrents or interplanting with daffodils, but be prepared to lose a few.
- Single Early - Cup-shaped with one flower per short stem. First tulip to bloom, starting late March.
- Double Early - More than the usual number of petals, with a fluffy appearance. Tall (12-15") stems. Starts blooming in early April. Can be harmed by cold snaps and winds.
- Triumph - Cross between early and late singles. Tall (15-18") stems. Late April bloomer.
- Darwin Hybrid - Cross between Darwin and the Fosteriana. Tall (24") stems and very hardy. Naturalize well. Late season, blooming into May.
- Single Late - One bloom per stem. Wide range of colors and late season bloomers.
- Lily-flowered - Tall (18-24"), late season bloomers with pointed, slightly flared petals.
- Fringed - Fringed or ruffled petal edges in many colors, sometimes with contrasting colors on the fringe. Late season bloomer with 12-18" stems.
- Viridiflora - Late season blooms on 12-24" stems with distinctive green streaks in their petals.
- Rembrandt - Once prized for their colorful streaks and mottling, these tulips are no longer grown commercially because the coloring was caused by a virus that spreads to other tulips. You may still see Rembrandt tulips advertised, but they are not true Rembrandt cultivars.
- Parrot - Named for the bud's resemblance to a parrot's beak. The flowers are large, with twisted, curling petals on tall (12-24") stems. Late season.
- Double Late - Also called the Peony Tulip, these tall (18-24") tulips have enough petals to rival a peony bloom. They are not particularly hardy, but are nice in containers. Late season.
- Kaufmanniana - Also known as the water lily tulip, these early bloomers have flowers that open so wide they are almost flat. The leaves have brownish-purple mottling and the plants are only 6-12" tall.
- Fosteriana - Also known as Emperor tulips, The flowers are large, often with pointed petals, and available in many colors. Blooms mid-season on 8-15" plants.
- Griegii - A short (8-12"), early season bloomer with flared, pointed petals and wavy leaves. Brightly colored, including some bi-colors.
- Species or Wild Tulips - Great for perennializing, these are short (4-12") plants with lots of variety and varying bloom times.