Tulips...Add Some Beauty to Your Landscape With This All-Time Favorite Flower!

Tulip flowers are among the most popular springtime flowers of all time, and it's no wonder! They are easy to grow, they come in an incredible variety of colors, heights, and flower shapes, and some are even fragrant.

There are now over 3,000 different type of tulip flowers registered varieties of cultivated tulips. Every year billions of these flowers are cultivated. The majority are grown and exported from Holland. However, millions of them are also grown all over the world. Most of them are adaptable to many different kinds of climates.

The main consideration when planting the bulbs is to ensure the soil has adequate drainage. If you don't plant the bulbs in soilthat is well-drained, the bulbs are then susceptible to rot before they even get a chance to develop their roots. Other than that, just plant them and enjoy!

Most tulips bloom well for only one or two years. Therefore, you will probably want to dig up the bulbs and put in new ones after two years. However, some types do well for several more years. These are said to perennialize (or naturalize) well. There are so many different kinds of tulips that the Royal Horticultural Association of Holland has grouped them into a number of official divisions.


Everybody knows that tulips come from Holland, right? Wrong!! Actually, they are native to Central Asia and Turkey. In the 16th Century they were brought to Holland from Turkey, and quickly became widely popular. They became so wildly popular that "Tulipmania" occurred in Holland in the 17th century. They traded their bulbs for a fortune...literally!

Tulips are cultivated in Holland in great numbers, and in huge fields. Today, Dutch bulbs...including tulips and daffodils...are exported around the world. Like other bulbs, tulips should be stored in a cool, well ventilated area. The garage in summer is definitely not the place to keep tulip bulbs. Many inexperienced gardeners will pull up their bulbs and store them in their garage until time to plant in the fall, only to find their bulbs all dried up a few months later.


Tulips can be forced to bloom indoors during the winter months. When you buy bulbs in the fall, save a few to try this fun and easy indoor garden activity. A few bulbs are planted in a flower pot. The pot is then "chilled" or set in the cold for a few weeks. After a few weeks, the pot is brought indoors, and Voila, the tulips will grow and bloom indoors.

Can you remember your old water color sets and recall the wonderful rainbow pallets that you created? And the surprises, and the fun? Today you'll find there's greater magic in tulips and even more gorgeous and beautiful colors packed away in their sleek brown bulbs. To work this new magic, think of the happiest flower colors and the prettiest combinations you ever yearned for.


Tulips need a period of colder temperatures while they are dormant and resting between shows. That means you must plant before freezing weather comes around. You will then get your great display of color in the spring if you know your tulips, and plant early and late ones, and a lot of middle-between.

Where do you want tulips in April? In May? Decide that and we can tell you what to plant. The ground should be moist when tulips are planted. Give them 2-4 weeks to begin the development of their roots before watering. They should not receive too much moisture before their roots have developed, as this makes them easy targets for rot and other infections.

Your big opportunity to surprise yourself, your family, and your neighbors with the earliest tulips in the neighborhood rests in those listed as species tulips. Even in this group there are earlier- and later-blooming kinds. So mind the E's, M's (midseason), and L's you find in most of your bulb catalogs right after the variety names. After the species tulips get well started at blooming, next come the Single Earlies and Double Earlies, which are much better known. Then, in dashing colors, both delicate and rich, come those classified as Lily-flowered, Darwin, Breeder, Cottage, Parrot, and late double. These names of flowers refer to the form as well as colors, and borderlines between the classes are often indefinite.

You may be advised to purchase "top size" bulbs. This term may seem vague and need further clarification.Tulip bulbs are typically graded by their circumference. The largest four of about eight sizes are offered for sale to dealers. Allowances are made, of course, for varieties which are normally small. Naturally, the largest bulbs produce the biggest flowers.

After you have several years' experience in dealing with these flowers, you'll find that it is wise to go ahead and invest a little more and purchase the top sized bulbs. These will usually result in larger blooms three or four years in succession.

Settings are important. Just as equally important as the species you choose and quality of bulbs you purchase, is the location for planting along with what you'll be planting with them.

A good succession of tulip varieties and colors for six weeks or more runs like this:

Species tulips: These can be put to various uses as they are able to thrive in soil less well supplied with less nutrients than the type of soil required by the Breeder and Darwin. Also, they rather like a baking during the summer. They are ideal for planting around or among rocks or along a stone-edged path. Keep in mind when selecting a location the height of the kind you are planting, as they vary. Some are as low as 6 inches and some as tall as 15 inches, therefore sizes categorized as dwarf, medium, and tall. Avoid overcrowding when planting, at least a minimum of 4 inches apart.

Waterlily tulips, or Tulipa kaufmanniana, are dwarfs and the earliest of all to flower. They look both fit and pert snuggled in the lee of a rocky outcrop or close to low junipers or pines. The basic color is like good Jersey cream, but the outer petals are striped and splashed with red. The blooms open flat in the noonday sun to the great delight of winter-weary bees. The Siberian scillas, a bright blue, make fine neighbors. You can also plant these bulbs where their flowers will raise their brief inches from behind lilac-tinted moss phlox.

Fusilier, a selected variety of T. praestans, a native of Bokhara, grows from 6 to 10 inches tall with several pointed flowers to each stem. Red Emperor and T. fosterlana Princeps are huge and magnificently scarlet. These blaze away whether you plant them among rocks or close to a peony clump toward the front of a mixed border.

Single Earlies: These are the tulips most often used for formal beds. The variety Keiserskroon stretches to 15 inches, is a bright red edged with clear yellow. Rising Sun-a fine golden yellow, General De Wet-soft orange with a stippled effect, and Pink Beauty-brilliant cherry-rose with white stripes, are some of the best. Surround with forget-me-nots and pansies that complement them-palest yellow pansies with De Wet, light blues with Pink Beauty and carmine-red Prosperine.

Double Earlies: These look like small peonies set down on short straight stems. Mr. Van der Hoef is a bright fresh yellow, Scarlet Carnival and Vuurbaak and are great reds, and Electra are a rosy violet. The reds and yellows make nice masses of color below Garland spirea. Peach-blossom (rosy pink) is dazzling when placed below a pink double-flowering plum within a large amount of blue violets.

Darwins: These have taller stems (24-32 inches) and a blocky cup-shape flower. They bloom along with Van Houtte spirea, lilacs, and the intermediate iris. Some outstanding Darwins include the Gloria Swanson - an enormous crimson set off by a blue center; the Scotch Lassie - a pure, deep lavender that charms everyone when it's grown near a soft yellow variety such as Niphetos, or below a Father Hugo's Rose; the Zwanenburg - a pure white of lasting substance; and, the Bishop, an excellent as contrast for pale pinks and lavenders because of it's dark purple color.

Cottage: These are similar to the Darwins but usually have longer flowers. Advance is the most spectacular and looks like a great flame-red poppy. Plant this against a green background with anchusas nearby. Golden Harvest--a very deep lemon-yellow, the Marjorie Bowen--buff, rose-pink, and salmon, and the Rosabella--a delightful pink, are just a few examples of this class. English Daisies and blue bedding violas in front of them guarantee they'll show off at their best.

Lily-flowered tulips: This class rates high on effortless beauty and grace and are in demand for cutting. The White Duchess - a perfectly white flower, theCaptain Fryatt - a reddish violet, and the Yankee Girl - a delightful buffy salmon, are just three specific types that bring in much praise. Like the Cottage and Darwins, those in the lily-flowered class look the prettiest if placed among forget-me-nots or near mats of moss phlox such as Vivid and Dixie Brilliant.

Breeders: Unusual art shades and smoky overlays of hazy lavender and purples mark this group. They're excellent cut flowers to arrange in brass and copper. Plant these near the golden daisylike doronicums, purple honesty, yellow and bronzy pansies, or orange and yellow wallflowers. Copper Beech and purple-leaf Filbert make the handsomest of all backgrounds for them. Ask for Bacchus-violet blue with a dusky bloom, Cherbourg-a golden terra cotta, and wood brown Indian Chief.

Late Doubles: These have heads so heavy they often need to be staked if it rains frequently in your area. Mount Tacoma - a handsome white, Eros - a rosy lavender, and Uncle Tom - a blackish red, are the boldest of the group. These are in full bloom when the early irises start. The blue polemonium is one option for use to help set off the large pompon blooms.

Parrots: These oddest of tulip flowers are growing in favor each spring, now that the newer varieties have good stiff stems. With fringed edges and bold splashes of green on their outer petals, they do look as though made of feathers. There's a good color range and you can have Violet Queen, Red Champion, vivid scarlet Therese, sparkling yellow Sunshine, or the salmon-pink Fantasy. All of these choices make beautiful cut flowers. They are all the more lovlier outdoors when surrounded by groundcover about them.

Finally, did you know that ......

  • Tulips must be planted in the late fall or in early winter?
  • You can grow tulips under deciduous trees where it's too shady for bloom later?
  • Plant food should be applied above the bulbs but not where it can touch them, and should be well watered-in?
  • Tulips do best in a loose, well-drained soil?
  • You can increase your plantings by lifting and dividing original bulbs when out of bloom?
  • If you water them early when buds are rising, you'll get larger blooms and taller stems?

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