Everything You Need To Know About Tulips and How to Successfully Grow Them

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Tanya Kime-Wallace writes this extensive guide on tulips. Includes divisions and descriptions, buying guide, in depth growing guide,propagation guide, pests and diseases, cutting guide and usages for each individual category. Why go buy a book to find ou

Tulips are one of the most delightful flowers to bring forth a wonderful display of beautifully vivid, colorful flowers in the spring, in fact there is simply no other flower that can produce wider range of spectacular color. There really is nothing like seeing a beautiful show of tulips and they are treasure to have in any spring garden!

The tulip is a long lasting flower and can be relied upon year after year to come back multiplying when they are left to grow. They are very diverse and there are many different varieties of tulips ranging from the standard tulips we all know, to hybrids with very unique shapes and sizes such as the Parrot tulip and the Double Late Flowering Tulip, which personally is my favorite tulip as they resemble peonies. The flowers range from single,to double and sometimes fringed and vary in shape from single cups,bowls and goblets to more complex forms producing twisting or rounded tepals. The Tulip belongs to the Lily family. The majority of tulips are very easy to grow and can be grown in virtually any garden from beds to borders, to rock gardens and containers. They are delightful as cut flowers and can be grown solely to have them as cut flowers. On light soils all tulips may be planted deeply and they will survive for many years. If ingested,all parts of the tulip may cause mild stomach upset, and contact with any part may aggravate skin allergies so it is best to use gloves when picking or cutting. For horticulture purposes Tulips are divided into 15 categories called divisions which are as follows:

(Division 1) Single Early Group

Description: Developed as Hybrids, the Single Early Group is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 1. They bear 1 cupped-shaped flower with six petals reaching 3 inches across. They come in colors from white to dark red, often margined,otherwise known as flamed or flecked, with a contrasting color. The leaves are 4-14 inches long and the height of this tulip is 6-18 inches. They are known to have very strong stems, capable of standing up against the wind and rain unlike some other tulips. The flowers of the Single Early Group are early to mid-spring flowering, appearing most often in April.

Varieties within the Single Early Group are as follows; 'Apricot Beauty', 'Bestseller', 'Brilliant Star', 'Diana', 'Generaal de Wet', 'Joffre', 'Keizerskroon' 'Pink Beauty', 'White Hawk' and 'Yokohama'.

Uses: Suitable for a mixed border or bedding. Low growing cultivars are most often used in containers making a lovely display.

(Division 2 ) Double early group

Description: Developed as Hybrids, the Double Early Group is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 2. They have fully double, bowl-shaped flower with an excess of 6 petals reaching up to 3 inches across. They are very long lasting flowers similar to the peony but should not be confused with the Double Late/ Peony flowering Tulips. The flowers come in colors of white to dark red and are most often margined or flecked with another color. The leaves reach from 4-14 inches long and the height is 14-24 inches. They are a fairly short variety of tulip but they have very strong stems standing up to wind and rain. The Double Early Tulip is mid-spring flowering flowers most often appearing in April.

Varieties within the Double Early Group are as follows; 'Abba', 'Baby Doll', 'Carlton', 'Monsella', 'Monte Carlo', 'Orange Nassau', 'Peach Blossom', 'Schoonoord', 'Viking' and 'Willemsoord'.

Uses: The Double Early Tulip makes a wonderful bedding plant as well as container plant.

(Division 3) Triumph Group

Description: Developed as Hybrids, the Triumph Tulip is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 3. They are similar to the Darwin species,however;growing a bit shorter and blooming earlier. They have single,cupped shaped flowers reaching up to 2 1/2 inches across. They are produced in a very wide range of colors including,pink,red,yellow,white as well as dark purple,some even come in pastels. They are often margined or speckled with a contrasting color and are considered to be among the most prized of all Tulips for their perfect flower shape. The Triumph Tulip is a hybridization of Early Flowering and Late Flowering Tulips. The leaves reach up to 4-14 inches long and their height is 12- 16 inches. The stems are very strong, standing up against bad weather. They are mid to late spring flowering tulips flowers most often appearing in April.

Varieties with the Triumph Group are as follows: 'Abra', 'African Queen', 'Arabian Mystery', 'Bellona','Bing Crosby', 'Couleur Cardinal', 'Don Quichotte', 'Dreaming Maid', 'First Lady', 'Garden Party', 'Golden Mirjoran','Ile de France', 'Inzell', 'Kees Nelis', 'Margot Fonteyn', 'Martine Bijl', 'Miss Holland', 'New Design', 'Orange Monarch', 'Page Polka', 'Palestrina', 'Passionale', 'Pax', 'Per Gynt', 'Prinses Irene', 'Rosario' and 'Shirley'.

Uses: Suitable for bedding. They make excellent cut flowers and are long lasting when cut. They are also considered the best Tulip for forcing indoors.

(Division 4) Darwin Hybrid Group

Description: Developed as Hybrids, the Darwin Hybrid Tulip is within its own unique group of tulips, categorized within the Tulip species as Division 4. It was first introduced in 1943 as a cross between Darwin tulips and the species Fosteriana tulips. Darwin Hybrids have a single ovoid flower that reaches 3 inches across. They are often brightly colored in shades of yellow,orange,red or pink and are usually flushed or margined with a different color and often come with contrasting bases. The single flowers are among the tallest and most intense of all garden tulips as well as the most used for landscape. When flowers are closed they almost resemble a pyramid. The leaves are upright reaching from 4 -14 inches long. Their height is 20-28 inches. They are mid to late flowering tulips, flowering from the last week of April into May. If following the simple growing guidelines below Darwin Hybrids will preform splendidly year after year

Varieties within the Darwin Hybrid Group are as follows; 'Apeldoorn', 'Apeldoorn's Elite', 'Dawnglow', 'Elizabeth Arden', 'Golden Apeldoorn', 'Golden Oxford', 'Gordon Cooper', 'Gudoshnik', 'Hans Mayer' and 'Oxford'.

Uses: Darwin Hybrids are suitable for bedding and borders especially when sheltered from wind. They make superb cut flowers and the bulbs can be forced indoors.

(Division 5) Single Late Group

Description: Developed as Hybrids, the Single Late Flowering Tulip is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 5 . They are cup or goblet shaped reaching up to 3 inches across, sometimes several flowers to one stem. They come in colors of white,yellow,pink red and almost black very often with contrasting margins. Their leaves reach 4-14 inches long and their height is 18-30 inches.They have very long and strong stems which makes them a good weather resistant plant This group of tulip includes the old Darwin and Cottage tulips but due to hybridization the classes of the old type are no longer visible. Flowering time for this group is in late spring appearing most often in late April- May.

Varieties within the Single Late Group are as follows:Aristocrat', Avignon', Balalaika', Baronesse', Clara Butt', Cordell Hull', Dreamland', Georgette', Kingsblood', Menton', Pink Diamond', Renown' and Union Jack'.

Uses: The Single Late tulip is suitable for bedding as well as great for cut flowers.

(Division 6) Lily Flowered Group

Description: Developed as Hybrids, the Lily Flowered Group is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 6. They have elegant, single goblet-shaped flowers reaching up to 3 inches across with pointed tipped petals. Flowers come in a range of colors from white to yellow or red to pink as well as magenta sometimes flamed with a contrasting color. They have long stems and their leaves are 4-16 long. The height is 18-26 inches. They flower late in the spring most often in late April.

Varieties within the Lily Flowered Group are as follows; 'Aladdin', 'Ballade', 'Ballerina', 'China Pink', 'Dyanito', 'Mariette', 'Maytime', 'Queen of Sheeba' and 'West Point'.

Uses: Excellent tulips for formal bedding. Also great for cut flowers.

(Division 7) Fringed Group

Description: Developed as Hybrids, the Fringed Group is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 7. Single cup-shaped flowers that reach up to 3 inches across. The colors range from white to yellow and pink to red or violet. The petals of the flower are fringed or waved and twisted and are margined usually in a different color. The Fringed Tulip is popular for their beauty and elegance as well as their long flower life. The leaves are 4-16 long. The height is 14-26 inches. They flower late in the spring most often in late April.

Varieties within the Fringed Group are as follows; 'Blue Heron', 'Burgundy Lace', 'Burns', 'Fancy Frills', 'Fringed Beauty', 'Fringed Elegance', 'Hamilton', 'Maja' and 'Noranda'.

Uses: Excellent tulips for a border and also great for cut flowers.

(Division 8) Viridiflora Group

Description: Viridiflora tulip is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 8. They have singled cupped or almost bowl-shaped flowers that reach up to 3 inches across which are sometimes entirely green in colour or striped green from the base to the ending point of the petals. They are most often margined with another color or white, red,purple or yellow, flamed or striped green with contrasting centers. The leaves of the Viridiflora reach 4-14 inches long and the height is 18-26 inches long. This tulip is fully hardy and is a late spring flowering tulip most often appearing in late April.

Varieties within the Viridiflora Group are as follows:'Artist','Esperanto','Greenland','Golden Artist','Hollywood' and 'Spring Green'.

Note: The Greenland tulip is considered Holland's most beautiful of tulip's due to its excellent form and colour.

Uses: The Viridiflora Tulip does exceptionally well in mixed borders and makes striking cut flower arrangements.

(Division 9) Rembrandt Group

Description: The Rembrandt tulip is a hybrid tulip,within its own unique grouping of tulip, categorized within the Tulip species as Division 11. The Rembrandt is a hybridization of the Darwin Tulip. It has single cupped-shaped flowers growing up to 3 inches across. and the flowers range in colors of white,yellow or red splashed with black,brown,bronze,purple,red or pink with irregular stripes or feathers caused by a virus. The often terms are broken tulips. Tulipmania, the mass displays of tulip bulbs that seized Holland almost 400 years ago caused these color breaks,or rather virus and although the pathogen may create glorious richly colored flowers, it also weakens the bulbs, eventually killing them. The original Rembrandt is no longer cultivated, however;because gardeners still crave the extravagant Rembrandt displays, breeders today have developed a number of modern Tulips to mimic the Rembrandt that are just as showy but virus-free.The leaves of the Rembrandt reach 4-14 inches long and the height is 18-26 inches. It flowers in late spring most often appearing in late April- May.

Uses: The Rembrandt is and ideal tulip for a mixed border,and because of the bold color, fragrance and beauty they are great as cut flowers.

(Division 10) Parrot Group

Description: Developed as Hybrids, the Parrot Group is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 10. Large, single cup-shaped flowers that reach up to 4 inches across. The colors are always quite bright and range from white to pink to red or violet-blue,often unevenly stripped with different colors including green. Most of the flowers have a green spot in the middle base of the petals. The petals of the flower are very unique and look almost feather-like, fine and irregularly cut. The leaves are 4-16 long. The height is 14-26 inches. Parrot tulips are a result of mutation from other divisions of tulips such as the Triumph Group and the Single Late Group so flowering time varies, although many flower in the late spring appearing most often in late April. This Tulip is quite touchy about bad weather so it should be placed in a sheltered location.

Varieties within the Parrot Group are as follows; 'Bird Of Paradise', 'Black Parrot', 'Blue Parrot', 'Destiny', 'Estella Rijnveld', 'Flaming Parrot', 'Orange Favorite', 'Red Parrot', 'Rococo', 'Texas Gold' and 'White Parrot'.

Uses: Excellent tulips for a border, although should be placed in a sheltered location. Also great as cut flowers.

(Division 11) Double Late Group (Peony Flowered)

Description: Developed as Hybrids, the Double Late Group, also known as Peony Flowered Tulips, is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 11. They have fully double bowl-shaped flowers reaching 5 inches across. The large flowers are sensitive and should be in a sheltered location Protected from severe wind and rain. They come in a range of colors from white to purple and are often margined or flamed in a different color. Unfortunately there are not many cultivars of this type of tulip produced but what do exist are truly beautiful. The leaves are 4-16 inches long and the height is 16-24 inches. The flowers the Double Late Tulip appear in April-May.

Varieties within the Double Late Group are as follows; 'Angelique', 'Carnival De Nice', 'Gerbrand', 'Gold Medal', 'Kieft', 'Maywonder', 'Mount Tacoma', 'Symphonia', and 'Wirosa'.

Uses: This tulip is suitable for beds and borders in a sheltered location.

(Division 12) Kaufmanniana Group

Description: The Kaufmanniana tulip is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categoized within the tulip species as Division 12. It has single bowl-shaped flowers which are frequently multicolored, reaching 3-4 inches across. The bases are usually distinctively colored and the flowers only open to sunlight. The leaves reaches 3- 10 inches long are are sometimes marked with purple,bronze or red. The height is 6-12 inches. They are fully hardy and are early- mid spring flowering appearing in March- April.

Varieties within the Kaufmanniana Group are as follows:'Ancilla','Giuseppe Verdi','Heart's Delight','Johann Strauss' and 'Shakespere'.

Uses: Left to naturalize this tulip is ideal for rock gardens as they will easily multiply. They can also be planted in beds or borders and are suitable for containers.

(Division 13) Fosteriana Group

Description: Developed as Hybrids, the Fosteriana Group is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 13. Fosteriana Tulips were developed from Tulipa fosteriana, a wild species of tulip found in the mountainous areas. The Fosteriana has perfectly formed single bowl-shaped flowers, reaching up to 5 inches across and opening up to 10 inches. They come in rich colors of white to yellow or red sometimes margined or flamed with another color and have contrasting bases.They are known to hold their colour for days on end. The leaves of the Fosteriana are 2-12 inches long and are usually light green-dark green and sometimes have red-purple markings on them.The height of this tulip ranges from 8-26 inches long. It is a fully hardy tulip and very vigorous so it should be left in the ground to naturalize where they can easily multiply. Flowering time is in mid-spring, most often April.

Varieties within the Fosteriana group of tulips are as follows: 'Candela', 't.fosteriana', 'Jaun', 'Orange Emperor', 't.Purissima', 'Reginald Dixon', 'Rondo','Solva', 'Sweetheart' and 'Yellow Purissima'.

Uses: Used anywhere they can be left to multiply as it is a very vigorous grower. Also suitable for a border.

(Division 14) Greigii Group

Description: Developed as Hybrids, the Greigii Group is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 1.This tulip was a result of hybridization from T.greigii and it quite similar to the parent plant. They bear single bowl-shaped flowers reaching up to 4 inches across. Flowers range in colors from red-yellow and are sometimes flamed or margined with a different color and contrasting bases. The flowers look quite large in portion to the stem and often open completely in the sun, revealing what looks like a black heart. Broad-spreading and usually wavy-margined, the leaves have dark bluish, maroon markings that reach up to 2-7 inches long. Height is 6-12 inches. The Greigii Group do like to be left to naturalize and multiply as they form compact groups for later flowering. Early-Mid Spring flowering, flowers often appearing in early April.

Varieties within the Greigii Group are as follows; 'Buttercup', 'Cape Cod', 'Corsage', 'Dreamboat', 'Engadin', 'T.greigii,' 'Longfellow', 'Orantorio', 'Oriental Slepdour', 'Plaisir', 'Red Riding Hood', 'Sweet Lady', 'Toronto' and 'Zampa'.

Uses: Excellent for both rock gardens and containers. They have very interesting leaves after flowering which is an added bonus of the Greigii Tulip. Also left to naturalize they will multiply freely.

(Division 15) Miscellaneous Group

Description: The Miscellaneous Group is within its own unique grouping of Tulip, categorized within the Tulipa species as Division 15. It represents all species of tulip and hybrid tulips not included in other divisions. There are two sections;low growing and taller growing. The low growing type have star-shaped flowers reaching 2-3 inches across with pointed petals. The height is 4-8 inches. The taller type mainly have bowl-shaped flowers from 2 ½ -6 inches across most with rounded bases and petals. Height is 8-14 inches. They are late winter- late spring flowering.The notable feature of all of them is they are quite study and are low growers.

Varieties within the Miscellaneous Group are as follows; 'Tulipa.acuminata', 'Apricot Jewel', 'Tulipa.aucheriana', 'Tulipa.batalinii', 'Tulipa.biflora', 'Bright Gem', 'Tulipa.clusiana', 'Tulipa.edulis', 'Tulipa.gesneriana', 'Tulipa.hageri', 'Tulipa.humilis', 'Tulipa.kolpakowskiana', 'Tulipa.linifolia', 'Tulipa.marjolleti', 'Tulipa.orphanidea', 'Tulipa.praestans', 'Tulipa.pulchella', 'Tulipa.saxtilis',Tulipa.sprengeri', 'Tulipa.sylvestris', 'Tulipa.tard', 'Tulipa.turkestanica', 'Tulipa.urumiensis', 'Tulipa.violacea', 'Tulipa.vvedenskyi' and 'Tulipa.whittallii'.

Uses: Excellent for rock gardens and containers. Also left to naturalize as they will multiply freely.

Buying tips

* Always avoid buying any bulbs that are soft,moldy or mushy. Thse will either spread disease or fungus into your garden or are simply a waste of money.

*Choose large bulbs as they are more mature,smaller bulbs will be cheaper,however;they will produce smaller flowers and take longer to multiply.

*Do not buys bulbs from stores and shops that keep them in hot greenhouse conditions. Hot conditions such as this can ruin them for the next season's blooms.

*Direct buying from bulb specialists usually assures that the bulbs have been cold stored until shipping,although, the downside is the fact you may get some small bulbs mixed in with the large.

Growing Tips:

*Plant in the autumn,ideally not before October.

*All tulips dislike excessive wet, wet soil promotes fungus and disease and can even rot bulbs,so grow in fertile,well drained soil in full sun, sheltered from strong winds.

*Plant at a depth of 6-8 inches. The depth of the planting hole will depend upon the size of the bulb. As a general rule you should make the planting hole two to three times the height of the bulb. Be sure to plant the bulbs the right way, the root system down and the pointed part up.

*Allow for a spread of at least 3-5 inches. The best planting distance depends on the size of the flower and on the effect that you want to achieve. For example the double flowering peony should be planted further apart then the single flowering peony as they are much larger flowers. For a more natural look, the bulbs should be planted further apart than indicated on the package or guidelines you receive with the bulbs. In containers the bulbs should be planted close together, but they should never touch.

*If looking for a lovely display from the start, remember to plant more as they only grow a few flowers the first year from the one bulb. If left to naturalize the bulbs will multiply year after year and so will the flowers.

*Never place container grown bulbs in direct sunlight. The soil has to remain cool and if placed in direct sunlight the soil will heat up too soon causing the tulip to grow but this will not give the tulip enough adequate time to develop its root system properly.

*Dead head and remove any fallen tepals after flowering so your plants will place their energy into strengthening the bulb, not into producing seeds. Leave foliage in place to allow bulbs to "re-energize” for next spring's performance.

*While in growth water tulips moderately, applying a balanced fertilizer for three to four weeks after flowering.

*Lift bulbs very two-three years once the leaves have died down and divide. This will re invigorate the tulips by giving them more space, if squeezed to tightly together they will not grow well becoming laggy and not giving that once spectacular bloom they did give.

Propagation:

*Sow seed in containers in a cold greenhouse or frame in autumn.

*Lift bulbs very two-three years once the leaves have died down and divide. Replant the largest bulbs and grow the smaller ones in a nursery bed for a year.

*When lifting take care, make sure you lift when the foliage has ripened.

*Inspect tulip bulbs before planting for bruises or cuts that may allow disease to enter and spread throughout.

Pests and diseases:

*Bulb rot may affect tulips in poorly drained soil.

*They may also be prone to, Tulip fire,slugs and stem and bulb eelworms.

Care For Cut Tulips:

To have your tulips looking beautiful and lasting for a longer period of time make a diagonal cut on the tulip stems diagonal. After doing this, take the entire tulip/tulips as well as the stems and wrap them in some newspaper. Place the tulip stems in a vase filled with water and leave them overnight. The following day remove the newspaper from the flowers and re cut the stems,once again cutting them diagonally. Transfer the tulip/tulips to fresh water and add plant food. Keep tulips out of the direct sunlight and add fresh water as and when required. By following the above guide the blooms will last for 6- 9 days, roughly 3-4 days longer then if you just put them in water. Another trick is to add a couple of table spoons of seven up soda to the water around the forth day, it reinvigorates the flower by acting as a stimulant, giving it the boost it needs.

Uses:

Tulips can be used just about anywhere from rock gardens to wildflower gardens to bed and borders. They are also lovely in containers either in similar combination with the traditional usage which is normally with Daffodils, Aubrieta, Wall Flowers, Grape Hyacinths, Violas or Polyanthus,either formally, in irregular drifts or or mixed borders, or on they can be used their own. Tulips are very valued and prized flowers that can be reliably used in virtually any garden for an extra splash of color in the spring. Also many of them can be left to naturalize where they will readily multiply. One thing to take note of is when planting tulips in the first year, plant more to achieve the look you want as there will only be a few flowers from one bulb, it takes time to multiply.

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Copyright © 2008 Tanya Kime-Wallace

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lisa leverton
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Posted on May 4, 2010
Erik Van Tongerloo
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Patrick Regoniel
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