Tag: tulips

Perennial Tulips

I planted tulips for the 1st time three years ago. The following spring, the display was glorious. The joggers, dog-walkers and dogs all loved it. The next year only about a third of the blooms returned. I was so disappointed Is there any chance of having a reliably perennial tulip bed?

Tulips are only really reliably perennial in their native habitat of the Himalayas and eastern Turkey. They need extremely cold winters and hot, dry summers to come back year after year.

Both species tulips and Darwin hybrids are known to return. The darker hued Darwin hybrids do better than the pastel ones.

Plant your tulips in an area that gets good drainage and plant them deep, about eight inches from the bottom of the bulb to the soil line. Fertilize in the fall and spring. After the blooms have faded remove the spent flowers and allow the foliage to die back naturally. This helps the bulbs store up energy for next year’s bloom.

Here’s a short list of tulips that have been found to be successful repeat bloomers.

‘Apeldoorn’s Elite’(Darwin Hybrid)red with orange-yellow
‘Ballade’(Lily-flowering)violet with white edges
‘Beauty of Apeldoorn’(Darwin Hybrid)orange-yellow and red striped
‘Charles’(Single Early)deep red
‘Couleur Cardinal’(Single Early)violet-red
‘Golden Apeldoorn’(Darwin Hybrid)yellow
‘Maytime’(Lily-flowering)bright violet, white edges
‘Orange Emperor’(Fosteriana)orange
‘Oxford’(Darwin Hybrid)vermillion red
‘Plaisir’(Greigii)red with white edging
‘Red Emperor’(Fosteriana)red
‘Red Riding Hood’(Greigii)red
‘Stresa’(Kaufmanniana)yellow with red markings
‘Toronto’(Greigii)salmon pink-red
‘turkestanica’(species)white and cream
‘West Point’(Lily-flowering)yellow

10 Vibrant Tulips that will Cure Your Fear of Color

Are you chromophobic? Do you have a fear of color? While I don’t know anyone who truly suffers from chromophobia I do know people who are hesitant to incorporate color in their home or garden for fear of making the wrong choice. In fact, I used to be one of those people. I stuck to a palette of pastels and creams, but now my favorite color is orange. How did I get over my anxiety? Tulips. The varieties ‘Temple of Beauty’, ‘Perestroika’ and ‘Menton’ to be exact. Tulips offer a wide variety of bold colors without the commitment. Once you start experimenting with them you’ll be hooked.

Here are 10 tulip varieties and combinations to help cure your apprehension. These are my favorites from past springs. I encourage you to use these photos as inspiration to create your own vibrant combinations. I think you’ll find that color isn’t that scary after all.

Ease into red by selecting cool hues such as garnet or magenta. This is a mix of maroon (‘Black Parrot’), cherry red (‘King’s Blood’) and fiery red (‘Red Shine’). It’s especially marvelous when lit by the setting sun.

Tulips in shades of reds and maroon.

I’m crazy for orange, especially when paired with blues, pinks and purples. This trio of tulips matches orange with salmon and pink. Sticking to one color family creates harmony.

Pink, orange and salmon tulips.

‘Wirosa’ tulips make a blue-ribbon display with their large (up to 4-inches), peony-type blooms.

Pink and white Wirosa tulips.

Pink tulips cater to my love of cool colors while still being bright and cheerful. I love to blend pink and deep maroon. The dark ‘Queen of the Night’ gives depth to this planting of hot pink ‘Renown’ and ‘Survivor’.

Dark maroon tulips with pink tulips.

I love to use bright yellow in the spring garden when landscape it still fresh and the sunlight soft. Peony-flowering ‘Monte Carlo’ is a cheerful accent to the wine-colored ‘Negrita’ and orange ‘Princess Irene.’

Yellow peony tulips, purple and orange tulips.

Doesn’t this look like a basket full of Easter eggs? Here ‘Temple of Beauty’ is toned down by pairing it with the pastel petals of ‘Mrs. John Scheepers’, ‘Fringed Elegance’ and ‘Blushing Beauty’.

Pastel tulips.

‘World Expression’ is a good compromise for those of you who aren’t ready to jump into the color pond with both feet. The flowers open yellow with red flames. Over time the yellow fades to a beautiful ivory. Think goblets of strawberries and cream.

World Expression Tulips

‘Chato’ is a neon pink, multi-petal tulip that will electrify your garden. I planted them in a generous drift but imagine these satin blooms mixed with purple and orange tulips and a chartreuse groundcover such as creeping Jenny.

Bright pink Chato tulips.

Here’s a tip that will boost your color confidence. Select one hue to dominate and a few others in the same family or on the same side of the spectrum to expand your palette. To make it really interesting drop in a contrasting color. Here red is the lead color (‘Red Impressions’, ‘Red Shine’, ‘Apeldoorn’), which I’ve bolstered with warm orange (‘Daydream’) and yellow (‘Golden Parade’). ‘Queen of the Night’ adds an unexpected accent of cool burgundy.

Orange, yellow, red and wine colored tulips.

You’ll find lots of tulips in rich shades of orange. I think purple is a gorgeous partner for this glowing color. When pairing contrasting colors let one color rule. In this bed I planted a scattering of purple (‘Attila’) among the orange (‘Juan’).

P. Allen Smith with orange and purple tulips.

Dramatic Tulip Container

Planting tulips in containers is a great way to enjoy these colorful spring flowering bulbs.  You can experiment with colors that you wouldn’t normally use and it’s ideal for those with limited space.  There’s really nothing to it.  All you need is a frost proof container, a bag of potting soil and the bulbs.

This container garden features dark maroon tulips.  The color is a bold statement in the spring garden and pairs well with more typical pastel purples and pinks of the season.


Frost proof container 10 inches wide and 24 inches deep
(2) 16-quart bags of potting soil
Slow release fertilizer
(75) ‘Queen of the Night’ tulip bulbs

Plant Like a Tulipmaniac

Other than the rose, the tulip has to be the most recognizable flower in the world. They originated in the Near East, but about 500 years ago the Dutch brought them west and kicked off a period that is referred to as Tulipmania.

The famous Tulipmania was a period in the 1600s when tulip bulbs were sold in Holland for astronomically high prices. Single bulbs for popular varieties like ‘Viceroy’ going for as much as 4,200 florins. Much like our tech and housing bubbles, everything came to an end around 1637. I’m not sure if it’s comforting or concerning that we’re still falling into the same traps.

Red tulips initially grabbed people’s attention because it was such an unusual color for the spring garden at the time. However, it was the variegated hybrids that fetched big prices. Red or purple flames against a white background were particularly favored. What we know now is the fancy coloring was due to mosaic virus and most of the Tulipmania varieties are no longer available. These days a similar look is achieved through hybridizing.

If you want to emulate the look of a Tulipmania garden, try these tulip varieties.

Tulips similar to Tulipmania Tulips

  1. ‘Arabian Mystery’
  2. ‘El Cid’
  3. Tulipa clusiana ‘Lady Jane’
  4. ‘Flair’
  5. ‘Monsella’
  6. ‘Blushing Beauty’

Tulip Basics

In autumn when most people are visiting pumpkin patches and making Halloween costumes, gardeners are thinking ahead to spring. For gorgeous tulip blooms in April and May the bulbs need to be planted in fall.

Tulip Fast Facts

Tulips are categorized into groups or classifications known as divisions, depending on how the flower looks: single early, double early, triumph, Darwin hybrid, single late, lily flowered, fringed, viridiflora, Rembrandt, parrot, double late, Kaufmaniana, Fosteriana, Griegii, and miscellaneous (species). It’s helpful to know the divisions and the sequence of their bloom to plan for more continuous color. Here is a general guide.

  • Early Flowering – single early, double early, Greigii, Kaufmanniana, Fosteriana, species
  • Mid-season Flowering – Darwin, Triumph, Parrot
  • Late-season Flowering – Single late, double late, viridiflora, lily, fringed, Rembrandt

Most early and mid-season tulip varieties are excellent for forcing. Purchase non-precooled bulbs, plant them in a pot or your favorite container, cover with fine mulch and keep in a cool (around 40 degrees) place such as a shed or garage for 6 – 10 weeks. Then move the pot into a warm room until growth is well underway. The blooms will keep longer if the container is placed in a relatively cool room and out of direct sunlight.

Tulips can grow from 4 inches to 28 inches high depending on their type.

Tulips thrive in climates with long cool springs, dry summers and cold winters. To try to keep them from year to year, plant at the recommended depth, remove faded blooms so they do not produce seed, and allow the leaves to yellow before removing them. In areas where spring is short and summer is hot gardeners usually replace tulips every year.

Plant tulip bulbs in fall at least 30 days before the ground freezes. Keep the bulbs cool, below 65 degrees, until ready to plant.

Tulips perform best growing in full sun and generally normal rainfall is enough moisture. They tolerate a wide range of soils as long as the drainage is good.

Tulips are most dramatic when planted in drifts or masses with clumps of at least 15 – 20 bulbs. It is recommended to space the bulbs 5 – 6 inches apart, but for big splash space the bulbs 1 – 3 inches apart.

A background of other perennials or a small evergreen hedge will make the blooms really stand out.

Definitely plant tulips in containers for additional color.

Low growing spring flowers like pansies and violas are good companions for tulips. Just plant these flowers right over the bulbs and the tulips will come up through the foliage. Where winters are mild plant pansies and violas in fall, cold climate gardeners can plant them in spring.

Good to Know

Tulips grown from seed often need 5 – 8 years of growth before plants are flowering size. Tulips from offsets or baby bulbs detached from the mother bulb require a year or more of growth before plants are large enough to flower.

Tulip Color Combinations

This fall gardeners across the country will plant tulip bulbs and then patiently wait until the following spring to see the results of their efforts.  It’s an astounding example of a gardener’s resolve.

But the wait is always worth it, because nothing beautifies the spring garden like a bed filled with colorful tulips.

Thanks to Dutch hybridizers, tulips are available in an astounding variety of forms and colors.  In fact, there are so many to choose from it can sometimes be overwhelming.  Over the years I’ve learned a few things that help me design gorgeous tulip displays.

My first tip is to plant tulips in groups of 15 or more.  This will create a big block of color that is much more impressive than dots of flowers here and there.

Second, when selecting a location for the bulbs, pick an area where they will be cast against a dark background such as an evergreen hedge or the foundation of your house. If you have purchased more than one variety, plant the taller ones to the back and the shorter ones in the front.

To extend bloom time select varieties that flower early, mid- and late season.  For example, a grouping of Single Early (early), Darwin (mid), and Lily-Flowered (late) will flower in progression over the course of several weeks.

When it comes to color, the sky is the limit.  You can’t go wrong planting several shades of the same color family such as a blend of almost white, pale pink, dark pink and salmon.

If you are feeling adventurous tulips are a natural for trying out color combinations.  For the most exciting results allow one variety to take the lead and plant in a ratio of 2:1:1.  And be sure all the varieties you select bloom around the same time.

Below is a list of some of my successful experiments and a few of the varieties that I have used to express them.

Tulips Menton, Perestroika and Temple of Beauty
Warm Blend
1. Pink ‘Menton’
2. Orange-Red ‘Temple of Beauty’
3. Salmon ‘Perestroika’

Tulips Queen of the Night, Menton and Bleu Amiable
Cool Colors
1. Purple – ‘Queen of the Night’
2. Rose-Pink – ‘Menton’
3. Lavender – ‘Bleu Amiable’

Tulips Maureen, Greenland and Pink Diamond
Quintessential Spring
1. Cream – ‘Maureen’
2. Green – ‘Greenland’
3. Pink – ‘Pink Diamond’

Tulips Queen of the Night, Spring Green, Bleu Amiable
Purple and Green
1. Deep Purple – ‘Queen of the Night’
2. Green – ‘Spring Green’
3. Lavender – ‘Bleu Amiable’

Tulips Francois, Spring Green, Maureen and Nemesia
Yellow and Blue
1. Yellow – ‘Francoise’
2. Green – ‘Spring Green’
3. Cream – ‘Maureen’
4. Blue – Plant pansies or nemesia as show here in spring.

Other Possibilities:
‘Temple of Beauty’ – Orange-red, 30″ tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Avignon’ – Orange-red, 24″-28″ tall, Midseason Bloom
‘General de Wet’ – Orange-red, 13″ Tall, Early Season Bloom

‘Perestroika’ – Salmon, 30″ tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Lightening Sun’ – Salmon, 20″ Tall, Midseason Bloom
‘Beauty Queen’ – Salmon 16″ tall, Early Season Bloom
‘Dordogne’ – Salmon, 26″ Tall, Late Season Bloom

‘Menton’ – Pink, 26″ tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Queen of Bartigons’ – Pink, 22″ tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Palestrina’ – Pink with green feathering, 16″, Early Season Bloom
‘Meissner Porzellan’ – White with Pink Edges, 22″ Tall, Midseason Bloom
‘Glowing Pink’ – Pink, 20″ Tall, Midseason Bloom
‘Elizabeth Arden’ – Pink, 22″ Tall, Midseason Bloom

‘Lilac Perfection’ – Pale Lavender, Double Flowers, 16″ Tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Blue Amiable’ – Lilac Blushed with Blue, 24″ Tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Cum Laude’ – Violet, 16″ Tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Blue Parrot’ – Bright Lavender, 22″ Tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Queen of the Night’ – Deep Purple, 20″, Late Season Bloom
‘Purple Prince’ – Purple, 14″ Tall, Early Season Bloom

‘Spring Green’ – Cream with Green Flames, 20″ Tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Greenland’ – Rose pink with Green Flames, 20″ Tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Greenwave’ – Pink with Green Flames, Parrot, 20″ Tall, Late Season Bloom

‘Francoise’ – Creamy white with yellow flames, 24″ Tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Maureen’ – Creamy white, 26″ Tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Mount Tacoma’ – White Double, 20″, Early Season Bloom
‘Cream Jewel’ – Opens Yellow and Matures to Cream, 24″ Tall, Late Season Bloom

‘Cistula’ – Pale Yellow with Darker Yellow Tips, Lily Flowering, 22″ Tall, Late Season Bloom
‘Sweet Harmony’ – Crisp Yellow with Cream Edges, 24″, Late Season Bloom
‘Golden Melody’ – Soft Yellow, 20″ Tall, Midseason Bloom

Tulip-Filled Planter Box

Tulip Filled Planter BoxThis trio of dark green dwarf Alberta spruce creates a rhythmic backdrop for an array of colorful spring flowers. You can pot up this combination this fall for winter interest and a beautiful display next spring when the tulips emerge. If you live in a region where winters are severe, place the planter in a sheltered area to protect the bulbs from freezing. Although the ajuga and creeping Jenny will die back in the winter they are both cold hardy to zone 3 and will return next spring.

This planter box is sensational placed against a bare wall decorated with a single eye-catching architectural feature, such as a mask, hanging above it.

(1) Faux lead/resin trough – 33" long x 17" wide x 14" deep

(3) 1 gallon Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca ?Conica’)
(4) 1 qt. Golden Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ?Aurea’)
(4) 1 qt. ?Bronze Beauty’ Ajuga (Ajuga reptans ‘Bronze Beauty’)
(12) plants or (2) six packs Viola (Viola cornuta)
(20) Elizabeth Arden Tulips

Tulips are real knockouts in this planter box, emerging from a sea of violas. Be generous when filling in the center of the planter, setting bulbs "shoulder to shoulder." Creeping Jenny and ajuga join in the cozy display and spill over the sides of the container, softening the planter’s edge.

This arrangement sustains its beauty beyond the spring season. After the tulips fade, replace them with a series of pink dianthus or salmon geraniums. The ajuga and creeping Jenny stay on to become more lush as the season unfolds.

Things to keep in mind:
Invent your own similar recipe if these plant varieties aren’t available in your area.

Alberta spruce can be substituted with another conical evergreen, creeping Jenny could be replaced with a golden variegated ivy, and if tulips aren’t available, try other spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils or hyacinths. Even the violas can be substituted with pansies or purple nemesia.

Make sure the stand-ins require the same water and light conditions.

Abundant Tulip Container

When it comes to the spring season there is one flower that I just can’t resist and that is the tulip. It is a classic beauty that can really put on a show. In my garden I plant tulips in lots of different places including containers, which can be a real show stopper if you plant them just the right way.

To begin, select a container, you can use anything you like. For this particular design I will use a terra cotta pot that is 17 inches in diameter. Next fill your container with a fast draining potting mix. Fill it up to about 6 inches within the rim of the container. Next moisten the soil to allow it to settle and remove any air pockets.

Now it is just a matter of getting all the bulbs placed and for the best display, I like to really pack them in, shoulder to shoulder or cheek to jowl as they say. I used 50 bulbs in my 17 inch container and next year when they bloom it will be nothing short of spectacular. I chose the variety ‘Menton’ because I like the salmon pink color.

Now with the bulbs in place it is just a matter of covering them with about 5 inches of potting soil. Leave about a 1 inch gap between the top of the soil and the rim of the container for watering purposes.

Tulip ContainerWith the bulbs planted I’ll move the container to a shady part of the garden, out of the way, and I’ll keep it there all winter, just checking on it occasionally to make sure the soil has consistent moisture.

If you live in part of the country where you cold winters are the norm, one way to help insulate the container is to take wire mesh and create a band around the container with about 6 inches between the container and the wire. Stuff the space with straw and leaves.

Then in the spring when the tulips begin to emerge move the pot out into a sunny location.

Remember if you want tulips in your garden in the spring you have to plant in the fall. Before you know it your tulip container will make a spectacular display that you can use in to any of your garden rooms.