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TULIPA

Image of Tulipa

Lee Stephens

Family

Liliaceae

Botanical Name

TULIPA

Plant Common Name

Tulip

General Description

What would spring be without tulips? The diversity of color, texture and interest of these hardy blooming bulbs is unparalleled in the early perennial border. They may flower in early, mid or late spring, depending on the cultivar, and are distinguished by six showy petals/tepals that curve upward to form a cup.

Tulips have a long, rich cultivation history, but were intensively hybridized and perfected by the Dutch starting in the 16th century. There are approximately 100 species and hundreds of cultivated varieties. Tulips originate from temperate regions across Europe and Asia, but a significant number of species exist in Middle Eastern countries such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Turkey.

These bulbs are often short-lived, save some species tulips and select cultivars, and are often treated as annuals. Tulip bulbs can be eaten by small mammals, such as voles, and may require winter protection. Likewise, their sweet green tops are favored by deer, so tulips are not recommended for gardens that are frequented by the large four-legged pests.

Despite these problems, tulips are generally easy to grow. They prefer full to part sun and require average to fertile soil with good drainage. After blooming, it is good to let their green tops photosynthesize to allow them to store plenty for fuel for next spring’s display. Once their leaves start to turn yellow, they can be cut to the ground. Hardiness is cultivar/species dependent, but all tulips require a chilling period to bloom.

Tulips offer spring color to any container or sunny garden. Be sure to consider height and bloom time when designing with tulips as these vary greatly from cultivar to cultivar. It is also wise to plant extra for cutting as they make superb cut flowers.

Tulip species and cultivars fall under 15 separate classes that distinguish plants by floral form and parentage. These classes are:

Code Classification

(1) Single Early Group: Commonly blooming in early to mid spring, these single-flowered tulips tend to be short-stemmed and have an overall compact stature.

(2) Double Early Group: Commonly blooming in early to mid-spring, these double-flowered tulips vary in height and often have large, lush, open flowers.

(3) Triumph Group: Commonly blooming in mid-to late spring, these single tulips have a medium to tall stature. They were first introduced in 1923 by the Dutch plant breeder, N. Zandbergen.

(4) Darwin Hybrid Group: Commonly blooming in late spring, these single tulips are tall and stately. They were first introduced in 1943 by the Dutch hybridizer D. W. Lefeber, and tend to be more long-lived than many other Tulipa hybrids.

(5) Single Late Group: Blooming in late spring, these single tulips include both the Darwin and Cottage tulips.

(6) Lily-flowered Group: Blooming in late spring, these tall to medium-sized tulips are distinguished by their lean, elegant, curved flowers and pointed petals/tepals.

(7) Fringed Group: Blooming in late spring, these single tulips have petals/tepals edged with a fine fringe that may be the same or a contrasting color.

(8) Viridiflora Group: Blooming in late spring, these tulips have flowers of varying colors that are streaked with green.

(9) Rembrandt Group: A very old class of tulip distinguished by mixed, broken color patterns on the petals.

(10) Parrot Group: Blooming in late spring, these wonderfully showy tulips have curved, coarsely fringed petals/tepals that are often in varying colors.

(11) Double Late Group: Blooming in late spring, these fully-doubled tulips come in an array of colors and often have very densely packed petals.

(12) Kaufmanniana Group: Blooming in early spring, these large-flowered tulips tend to be short-stemmed and have an compact to medium stature. Their blooms have long petals/tepals that open wide in the sun, and their foliage is often marked or mottled with maroon purple markings.

(13) Fosteriana Group: Blooming in early to mid-spring, these tulips are hybrids of Greigii and Kaufmanniana tulips. They tend to be compact in stature and have attractive single blooms.

(14) Greigii Group: Blooming in early to mid-spring, these tulips have distinct flowers, with inner petals that stand horizontally and exterior petals that flare, and foliage with sinuous margins.

(15) Miscellaneous: Tulips that fall outside all other categories.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    10 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Bulb or Corm or Tuber

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    6"-28" / 15.2cm - 71.1cm

  • Width

    12"-18" / 30.5cm - 45.7cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring

  • Native To

    Hybrid Origin, Europe, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Asia, China

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Yellow, Red, Green, Purple, Orange, Pink, Rose, Coral, Peach, Burgundy, Plum, Bronze

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Bicolor, Multi-Color, Striped

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single, Double, Semi-Double

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Bedding Plant, Container, Cutflower, Edging, Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No