Bulbs and bulblike plants, Perennials
Tulips vary considerably. Some are stately and formal, others dainty and whimsical; a few look decidedly bizarre. Bloom comes at some time from March to May, depending on the type.
Use larger tulips in colonies or masses, in company with low, spring-blooming plants. Use smaller, shorter types for close-up viewing—in rock gardens, near paths, in raised beds, or in patio insets.
Tulips are superb container plants; unusual kinds such as Rembrandt and Parrot are especially suited to this use.
Nearly all hybrid tulips and most species (wild) tulips need six weeks of temperatures below 45°F/7°C to initiate flower formation, and they aren’t bothered by summer drought. In mild climates, provide the necessary chill by refrigerating bulbs for 6 weeks (not near ripening fruit) before planting; then treat the plants as annuals.Tulipa bakeri
Similar to and often listed as T. saxatilis. Lilac to purple flowers with a yellow base open to a wide, flat star; they are borne in clusters of three or four on stems to 6–8 in. high. ‘Lilac Wonder’, to 6–7 in. high, has lilac-colored flowers with a large, circular lemon yellow base. Midseason. Good in mild-winter areas.
Slender flowers on 9-in. stems are rosy red outside, white inside. Leaves are long, thin, and green. Though these are small, and should be massed for any kind of a show, they’re lovely and will perennialize in milder zones than most tulips.
Blossoms of this 6-in.-high plant are star-shaped when fully open; they have rose-carmine outer segments (shading to buff at base), bright yellow inner segments.Tulipa fosteriana
Early-blooming T. fosteriana has the largest flowers—to 8 in. wide—of any tulip. The huge red blossoms appear atop 8–16-in. stems and open flat, with a yellow line around the black blotch at the base of each petal. Hybrids include varieties with flowers in red, orange, yellow, pink, and white. The 16-in.-high ‘Red Emperor’ has fiery red flowers. All are good choices for perennial beds.Tulipa greigii
This tulip’s 6-in. flowers are borne on 10-in. stems; the leaves are heavily spotted and streaked with brown. Hybrids have flowers in white, pink, orange, and red; many feature several colors in a single blossom. Midseason. Excellent in containers.Tulipa kaufmanniana
Often called waterlily tulip, T. kaufmanniana is a very early bloomer with 3-in., creamy yellow flowers (marked red on petal backs) with dark yellow centers; the flowers open flat in sun. Stems are 6–8 in. high. Hybrids come in various colors, usually with flower centers in a contrasting color; many have mottled leaves like Greigii tulips.Tulipa linifolia Batalinii group
This species’ soft yellow flowers rise on 6–10-in. stems. Very narrow leaves. ‘Yellow Jewel’ has yellow blossoms tinged with rose. ‘Bright Gem’ holds its many-petaled flowers tightly in a tulip shape; coloration is a fiery peach. Leaves are thin, and emerge in threes. Midseason.Tulipa saxatilis
Fragrant, yellow-based pale lilac flowers open nearly flat; one to three are carried on each 1-ft. stem. Early bloom. Good choice in mild-winter areas.Tulipa tarda
Each 3–5-in. stem has three to six upward-facing, starlike flowers with golden centers and white-tipped segments. Early midseason, and among the longest-flowering tulips. Often sold as T. dasystemon, a different species. Greenish-bronze leaves are succulent looking.
This tulip variety grows to 22 in. tall and produces yellow-orange flowers with red stripes. Because Darwin hybrids are the largest tulips, have long stems, and hold well in the vase, they’re favored for cutting.‘Ballade’
Grows to 16 in. tall, with white-edged, goblet-shaped magenta flowers and wavy-edged leaves. Late midseason.
Like most parrot tulips, this one’s large, mauve-blue, deeply fringed, and ruffled flowers are reminiscent of parrot feathers, and sit atop 16–20-in. stems. Other parrot tulips are striped, feathered, and flamed in various colors, including green. They once had weak, floppy stems, but modern types are stouter.‘Don Quichotte’
A good representative of the Triumph tulips, which grow to 20 in. tall. This one produces clear pink, single flowers. Others come in a wide range of solid colors, including red, white, and yellow, and bicolors. Midseason.‘Spring Green’
Grows to 20 in. tall and produces yellow flowers with green-striped reverse (that green is the mark of viridifloras). Good cut flowers.
Grows to 16 in. tall, with white-edged, goblet-shaped magenta flowers and wavy-edged leaves. Late mids...
Slender flowers on 9-in. stems are rosy red outside, white inside. Leaves are long, thin, and green. T...
Slender, candy-striped flowers are long and elegant, but don’t open much. Petals are pale yellow...