University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont
you think tulips are basically all the same, prepare to be tempted by
colors and flower shapes in heights from 6 inches to 3 feet tall.
Planting a diversity of tulips from the
hundreds available among 15 types can give you a long period of blooms
quite striking flowers.
oldest are the single early tulips, dating back to the late 1500's in
Holland. Ones such as the dark 'Purple
Prince' have a "tulip" shape (oval to egg-shaped with somewhat
pointed tip when young), get 6 to 18 inches high, and bloom early to
season. Double early tulips with many
more petals, such as the pink 'Foxtrot', bloom about the same time,
reach 12 to
18 inches high, and first appeared in the mid 1700's in Europe about
our country was being settled. One of my
favorites is the yellow with red streaked 'Monsella'.
pointed but more square shaped, the flowers of the Triumph tulips are
the most common, such as the purple 'Attila'.
These can reach 2 feet high and bloom mid-season. Another common
of tulips, also blooming
mid season, are the Darwins such as the popular red 'Apeldoorn'.
have flowers more similar to the early
ones, often opening to a cup shape, and get 2 to 3 feet tall.
most tulips these are perennial,
reblooming each year. Darwins date from
the 1800's and were originally bred by Belgium monks.
other classes of tulips bloom late, such as the single late yellow 'Big
Smile'. These have more slender, pointed flowers and reach 2
to 3 feet. The double late are a similar
height but with quite different flowers. Resembling peonies they
"peony flowered", and sometimes come in color
combinations such as the white with red-streaked 'Carnaval de
late class also is streaked with colors, but the flower shape of the
is more like a tulip than a rounded peony flower. They were the
painted and made famous
by Rembrandt. During the 1600s, this
streaking was caused by a virus that of course at that time gardeners
know about. These bulbs were so unusual
they became collectable, and were sold for large sums of money during a
short-lived craze called "tulipmania". Today the bulbs you buy as
Rembrandts, such as the red and white 'Union Jack', of course don't
but were bred to resemble these historic bulbs.
other late classes of tulips have unusual and attractive flowers,
reaching 2 feet or a bit less. The
lily-flowered, such as 'White Elegance', are narrow with petals flaring
as you might picture in a lily. This class
dates from the late 1800's. The fringed
tulips have a tulip shape but with fringed petal edges, often of a
color. 'Nippon' is an example with red
flowers, their petal edges with a contrasting yellow fringe, or
purple flowers white fringed on the edges. Viridiflora have green
viridis meaning green, such as the white and green 'Spring
Parrot tulips are a bit similar to the
peony-flowered, only less dense with deeply cut edges, and often are
bicolors. Ones such as 'Apricot Parrot' with red, white and green can
get a bit
over 2 feet tall. The Rembrandts sometimes are grouped here.
there are several species of tulips, generally blooming early and low--
to 12 inches high so good along edges of beds, walks, and rock
gardens. Many of these are perennial.
Fosteriana tulips like the white 'Concerto' have very
early and large flowers, and sometimes purple streaked leaves.
tulips like the red and white
'Plaisir' also have streaked leaves that
stay near the ground and are wavy. Kaufmanniana tulips such as
Strauss' or 'Ice Stick' have strap-like leaves and are
some times called "waterlily" types. They too bloom quite early and
sometimes have streaked foliage.
miscellaneous class includes many other species tulips, generally low
blooming, and some less hardy in the north.
'Fusilier' has multiple red flowers and a wide squat base of
'Persian Pearl' is from another species with
very thin strap-like leaves, and flowers hardly like a tulip.
has purple open small flowers with
yellow centers. 'Tarda' has rather large
star-shaped flowers on low plants, yellow with white tips.
widest selection of tulips often is found in bulb catalogs, most
with ordering online. These are
generally available until late September or early October for the
north. If you miss this, or would just rather shop
locally in garden stores, shop early for the best selection.
forget the bulb fertilizer when buying
your tulips. Since tulips are a more
formal flower, they are often best planted symmetrically in even