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Tulipa fosteriana

Emperor Tulips
Liliaceae
Bulbs and bulblike plants, Perennials

TULIPA

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 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.

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