There are hundreds of varieties of tulips, with new varieties being bred every year. They are beautiful bright and showy in your spring garden when most of us are starved for colour. The many groupings means you can have colour from early to late spring. Plant species tulips in borders or rock gardens, and the larger varieties in clusters, or large formal beds, or in and amongst your perennials. It is difficult to get tulips to perennialise, so it is best to treat them as annuals and replant every year. If you want to try, then plant Darwin or species tulips.
Single Early Tulips
As the name says, these tulips bloom early in the season – they have strong sturdy stems. They stand up well in early spring weather. Popular varieties include Apricot Magic, Flair , Princes Irene and the Prince varieties- Sunny, Purple & Candy Prince.
This group of tulips have the classic egg shape, with bold bright colours. They have strong , sturdy tall stems and bloom mid season. They are also the best tulips for perennialising.
Double tulips are long lasting, and look like peonies. They provide early spring colour in your garden. The early flowering varieties are shorter and are suitable for borders. The later flowering varieties are taller and will provide long lasting colour to your garden.
Lily flowered tulips are very graceful and elegant – they have single flowers with pointed petals. They are late season bloomers. Popular varieties include Ballarina, Ballade & White Triumphator.
Species or Botanical tulips are smaller and shorter than other varieties, and produce multiple blooms per stem. The are perfectly suitable for rock gardens , borders and smaller spaces.
Large, oval shaped flowers on tall stems. Late season blooming. Popular varieties include Maureen, Queen of Night & Big Smile.
Parrot, Fringed and Viridflora Tulips
These showy varieties come in a variety of colours. Feathery and scalloped edges, or, in the case of viridiflora tulips, each petal has a green streak. They flower late in the season , and grow 45-55 cm tall.
Triumph tulips are a cross between single early and single late tulips, with a cup shape. They grow to medium height ( 25-45cm). They are the largest group of tulips, with the most varieties and most colours. Triumph tulips flower mid-season.
Caring for your tulip bulbs
Tulips require full sun, although they will tolerate light shade.
Plant your bulbs in well drained soil. Keep bulbs in cool place until ready to plant. Plant them as late in the fall as possible, but preferably before the ground freezes.The general rule is plant bulbs 2-3 times as deep as the height of the bulb, so for tulips that would be about 6 inches or so. Plant with the pointed up, the flat part of the bulb against the ground. Tulips are very forgiving , so they will turn themselves right side up. Water well.
Tulips do not generally perform well after the first year, so it is best to treat them as annuals. If you do want to leave them in, remove blooms as soon as they fade to prevent seed formation. Wait until the leaves yellow before removing them (the leaves give the bulbs energy). This is also a good time to fertilize your tulips either with 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 garden compost.