The universe of Tulips is unimaginably large, with hundreds of new varieties named each year, and no single individual can possibly keep track of it all. They are much more adaptable than most people realize. The small species Tulips can cluster along a border's edge or fill the cracks in a walkway. The larger forms work equally well bedded out in dramatic patterns or tucked in the openings between clumps of perennials such as Lady's Mantle, Hardy Geranium, or Pulmonaria. Bearded Irises also make good companions for Tulips because they both enjoy good drainage and hot summers. The Tulips disappear before the Irises take the stage; they receive full sun and no distraction from dying Tulip foliage.
In years of trials, we've identified a series of Darwin Hybrid Tulips that provides up to five years of splendid bloom, with bud counts actually increasing for the first three years. To assure optimum success with this remarkable strain, we recommend the basics of good Tulip culture: Deep planting, a regular spring and fall feeding with a bulb fertilizer, deadheading after bloom, allowing the leaves to yellow before removing, and minimal watering in summer. Your reward will be a display that will ignite your spring garden for years.
A well-known and well-loved Darwin Hybrid Tulip called 'Pink Impression' gave rise to this exciting series with identical heights, bloom times, and vigor. Choose you favorite, create your own combinations, or purchase our mixture. You can't go wrong, as they will give up to five years of color.
The long-lasting, semidouble to double flowers of these double Tulips bear a striking resemblance to double Peonies. All are good for bedding, and some are excellent for forcing. To use this group in your garden, throw away all your preconceptions about planting Tulips and start with a fresh look at each variety. You will be amazed with the results.
In profile, this group of Lily-flowered Tulips is very distinctive and elegant, with graceful stems bearing single flowers with pointed, reflexed petals. These late bloomers are excellent for bouquets.
These diminutive beauties harken back to the very first Tulips, the little bulbs that have given rise to all the big showy hybrids. If given good drainage, the species come back year after year; they're by far the best Tulips for naturalizing. They are also excellent for rock gardens, the front of borders, and forcing. Most are suitable for heirloom gardens.
These reliably perennial Tulips have lovely purple-mottled or striped foliage that is attractive before the flowers appear and even after they are gone. The flowers are chalice-shaped, opening wide on sunny days to reveal the interior colors. These exceptionally brilliant Tulips are much loved in Europe for creating vivid but compact displays. They bloom early to midseason, so they make perfect companions for midseason Daffodils, Anemones, and Hyacinths. Good for bedding and for forcing, as well.
The feathery-edged blooms are heavily fringed and scalloped. Parrots make stunning cut flowers that are as sure to provoke admiration now as they did when they Old Masters were painting them. Because the flowers are so big and full, they need protection from wind and heavy ran. Most are mutations from Single Late and Triumph Tulips.
The Triumph Tulips make up the largest group of Tulips and the one that offers the widest range of colors. All have medium-length stems. Triumphs are best used for forcing and short-term bedding. They are also good in containers, if protected from freezing in areas colder than Zone 7.
Light/Watering: Tulips perform best in full sun in the North and will tolerate very light shade in hotter areas. Unless the season is unnaturally dry, normal rainfall should suffice.
Fertilizer/Soil and pH: Tulip bulbs require a well-drained soil. Sandy soil enriched with organic matter is ideal as is a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Keep Tulip bulbs cool (below 65 degrees) until ready to plant. Plant in fall at least a month before the ground freezes. Follow directions for planting depth for individual varieties. Many Tulips (the midseason and late-flowering varieties in particular) tend to bloom magnificently the first spring or two after planting and decline thereafter. Species Tulips, Darwin Hybrids, Fosterianas, Greigiis, Kaufmannianas, and WFF Perennial Tulips can put on a stunning display for several years with your help:
- Plant at the depth recommended on the plant label (or slightly deeper); we recommend you plant large bulbs 8-10 in. deep, smaller bulbs and species Tulips 5-6 in. deep.
- Remove blooms (on all but the species Tulips) as soon as they fade to prevent the formation of seeds.
- Allow the leaves to yellow before removing them.
- Fertilize in fall and early spring with any of our fertilizers specifically formulated for bulbs.
- Tulips will also perform more reliably if they are not watered during their summer dormancy.
Most early and midseason Tulip varieties are excellent for forcing. Rooting time is from fourteen to sixteen weeks. More information on forcing bulbs may be found on our Web site.
In parts of the country where winters are mild, Tulips may not receive enough natural cold to stimulate proper growth and flowering. We recommend treating these as annuals and replacing them with new bulbs every year. Check with your local USDA Cooperative Extension Service to find out whether any bulbs require prechilling before planting in your area. Place the bulbs in a refrigerator, away from fruits and vegetables (these produce ethylene gas, which can harm the embryonic flowers inside the bulbs). Make sure the bulbs remain dry. The usual prechilling time is eight to ten weeks at 40 to 45 degrees F. Once the bulbs are removed from cold treatment, plant them right away. Bloom occurs about six to eight weeks after planting. Discard the entire plant after bloom.
Please note: An amber gel-like substance called gummosis is sometimes present on Tulip bulbs. It is not harmful and will not affect the bulbs' performance.
Pests/Diseases: Aphids may be a problem, but are easily washed off with a water spray. If you notice spindly stems and white or yellowish mottling or streaking of the foliage suspect a virus and dig up and destroy the bulb.
Companions: Tulips are lovely with other spring bloomers and with each other. Mertensia virginica is a sweet companion and Tulips are perfect planted beneath ground covers like Epimedium or Vinca. Underplant Tulips with Forget-Me-Nots for a classic combination.
Pruning: Direct energy to the Tulip bulb by removing spent blooms and developing seed capsules.
End of Season Care: Wait until Tulip leaves have yellowed completely before cutting them back. Many gardeners consider Tulips to be one of the best bargains in the plant world and treat them as annuals. This method relieves the gardener from having to plant bulbs deeply, not being able to water garden areas where Tulips are planted, deadheading plants, and looking at unattractive foliage for the summer.
Calendar of Care
Early spring: Fertilize bulbs now with a suitable formulation.
Mid-Spring: Enjoy the show and cut flowers for gorgeous bouquets. Watch for aphids and wash off if present.
Summer: Deadhead Tulip plants to remove developing seed capsules. Do not water Tulip beds, as most varieties prefer to stay dry in summer, and keep beds weeded. Do not remove foliage until it has yellowed completely.
Fall: Plant new bulbs at least a month before the ground freezes and water in. Check pH and adjust to 6.0 to 6.5. Fertilize established plantings now.
To view beautiful images of Tulips and other flowers, visit our Tulips Image Library