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Rising Species Tulips for Early Spring Blooms

You will not be alone—the craving for spring is each common and comprehensible. And for many people, spring interprets into bulbs. Much more particularly, we consider spring when it comes to tulips. However perhaps you might be considering twice about tulips. Maybe an emphasis on naturalistic plantings has introduced with it a leaning away from the cultivated lollipop look of the extremely bred tulip hybrids. If that’s the place you end up, species tulips are the reply.

Though collectively referred to as “species tulips,” many of those bulbs have cultivars (like different vegetation), as a result of picks capturing one of the best colour or a colour quirk have been made. Even so, these cultivars are nonetheless a lot nearer to their wild counterparts than the standard hybrid tulips you discover available on the market. This naming conference is only a approach to cement sure traits.

Species tulips boast lots of useful qualities that make them sterling harbingers of spring. Initially, their efficiency kicks off even sooner than that of most early hybrid tulips. Usually, species tulips intersect with midseason and later daffodils (Narcissus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), so that you get achievement early—proper out of the beginning gate.

After which there’s the extra naturalistic look that the species tulips ship. In comparison with their hybrid brethren, they’re downscaled in flower dimension and total stature, typically with gracefully arched stems. If the climate doesn’t hand out an early season warmth wave, these naturalistic-looking gems will linger for a number of weeks to weave a colourful carpet—particularly in the event you plant a number of varieties for a succession of the stampede.

Maybe better of all, species tulips are usually perennial in the event you deal with them proper (offering good drainage and good mild, and letting the foliage mature and die again naturally). That attribute is extremely welcome on condition that it’s finest to deal with most different tulips like annuals. And so far as colour vary is worried, there isn’t any compromise. Species tulips exist in vibrant or delicate pinks, reds, buttery oranges, and purples, identical to the large guys. That is undoubtedly an choice you wish to discover.

At a look

Title: Tulipa spp. and cvs.

Zones: 3–8

Circumstances: Not less than six hours of full solar; well-drained (ideally sandy loam) soil 

Native Vary: Europe, Asia, Center East

Planting: Sink your bulbs within the floor in fall when the soil temperature has constantly dropped to round 55°F (this encourages desired root progress, not high progress) and at a depth 3 times the diameter of the bulb.

CHILLING NEEDS: Tulip bulbs require a minimal of 10 weeks of soil temperatures constantly between 35° and 45°F in fall/winter. This may be achieved artificially in refrigeration—an amazing technique, particularly for forcing in containers.

Turkestan tulip is an early bloomer that pairs well with daffodils

Turkestan tulip is an early bloomer that pairs nicely with daffodils

Though the flowers of this species from Turkestan and thereabouts are similar to these of late tulip (p. 34), albeit with diminished yellow within the middle, the general look is sort of completely different. Every darkish bronze flower stem holds a wand of many creamy buds—often 4 to eight—they usually open as a swooping cluster. One of many earliest bloomers within the tulip realm, Turkestan tulip can synchronize with miniature daffodils, making their yellow pistils pop.

Title: T. turkestanica

Top: 6 to eight inches

Bloom Time: Early to midspring

Flax-leaved tulip is a standout with dramatic red flowers and slender leaves

Flax-leaved tulip is a standout with dramatic crimson flowers and slender leaves

If shiny crimson tulips outline spring for you, plant this scaled-down model of the large crimson brethren. Flax-leaved tulip is a show-stopper that delivers the identical colour punch however not the stiff progress behavior. This petite tulip dazzles with shiny lipstick-red petals which might be contrasted with a black eye, making the message extra dramatic. The foliage is one other plus of this Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia native that’s typically chosen as a rock backyard plant. The pencil-thin leaves are so slender that they don’t learn as an eyesore needing to be hidden beneath fellow bedmates throughout the plant’s dying-back course of. As a substitute, they’re hardly noticeable.

Title: T. linifolia

Top: 4 to six inches

Bloom Time: Mid to late spring

Late tulip brightens the garden with star-shaped blossoms

Late tulip brightens the backyard with star-shaped blossoms

An ideal performer yr after yr when given a sunny location and good drainage, late tulip swells its glowing white, star-shaped blossoms to disclose an ultrabright buttercup-yellow coronary heart. Every bulb produces a number of upward-facing flowers. The pencil-thin foliage is hardly noticeable whereas it’s feeding the bulb for the next yr’s efficiency, and the lax flower stems make this little species appear like a wildling. Native to rocky subalpine areas in Central Asia, late tulip is claimed to tolerate humusy backyard soil higher than most tulips. So far as timing (the title says all of it), this is without doubt one of the final species to bloom in spring.

Title: T. tarda

Top: 4 to six inches

Bloom Time: Mid to late spring

‘Shogun’ Praestan’s tulip
‘Shogun’ Praestan’s tulip Picture:

‘Bloemenlust’ Praestan’s tulip
‘Bloemenlust’ Praestan’s tulip Picture: Geoff du Feu/

Praestan’s tulip supplies taller choices for beds and borders

Bigger and taller than their fellow species tulips and with broad foliage that appears just like the hybrids’, Praestan’s tulips lead the pack to bloom sooner than most species tulips within the season. ‘Shogun’ opens a wealthy shade someplace between melon and pumpkin. ‘Bloemenlust’ is hearth engine crimson. Each are tremendous straightforward to develop within the floor or as compelled bulbs and are very noticeable from a distance. In truth, they learn like a bridge between wild and cultivated tulips. Combine them with grape hyacinths (Muscari spp. and cvs., Zones 2–9) for a surprising combo.

Title: T. praestans and cvs.

Top: 10 to 14 inches

Bloom Time: Early spring

‘Lady Jane’ lady tulip
‘Girl Jane’ girl tulip Picture: Steve Aitken

‘Tinka’ lady tulip
‘Tinka’ girl tulip Picture: Visions/

Girl tulip is a showy performer, even within the South

Not solely do the numerous types of T. clusiana boast all of the aforementioned species tulip advantages, however additionally they characteristic one other robust swimsuit: They will stage their present within the South. That’s proper—they don’t require an extended chilling interval to carry out. Amongst girl tulips (additionally referred to as “candlestick tulips”), ‘Girl Jane’ leads the recognition ballot, whereas ‘Cynthia’, ‘Tinka’, and the earlier-flowering ‘Tubergen’s Gem’ (T. clusiana var. chrysantha ‘Tubergen’s Gem’) are worthy of buying by way of mail order as nicely. These picks are significantly showy members of the species realm, with white or pale-yellow petals surrounded by brighter pink to crimson outer petals to realize a putting candy-stripe impact.

‘Cynthia’ lady tulip
‘Cynthia’ girl tulip Picture: Paula Gross

‘Tubergen’s Gem’ lady tulip
‘Tubergen’s Gem’ girl tulip Picture:

Though the blossoms will not be fairly the scale of a hybrid tulip’s, they’re definitely showy. Native to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and the western Himalayas, this stoic little species has damaged unfastened to naturalize in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Tunisia, Greece, and Turkey. And since it doesn’t require a prolonged chilling sequence, it’s a prime candidate for forcing, starting to carry out after solely 6 weeks or so in refrigeration.

Title: T. clusiana and cvs. (syn. T. aitchisonii and cvs.)

Top: 6 to 10 inches

Bloom Time: Mid to late spring

Batalinii tulip adds a pop of color to rock gardens and arid locations

Batalinii tulip provides a pop of colour to rock gardens and arid areas

Native to rocky hillsides of Central Asia, this species varies between butter yellow and salmon and has wavy petals that flare barely at their suggestions, creating a pleasant spin on the same old goblet-like tulip presentation. Contemplating this tulip’s chosen habitat of origin, it’s typically efficiently plugged into rock gardens, the place its diminutive stature may be admired simply. Nonetheless, batalinii tulip isn’t one of many extra available species, even from mail-order sources, so undoubtedly contemplate including it to your spring lineup in the event you come throughout it. Additionally, though references say the species title is a synonym of T. linifolia, there may be an apparent naming discrepancy concerning this very different-looking tulip.

Title: T. batalinii

Top: 4 to 10 inches

Bloom Time: Mid to late spring

‘Lilac Wonder’ candia tulip delivers easygoing beauty with lilac-pink blooms

‘Lilac Surprise’ candia tulip delivers easygoing magnificence with lilac-pink blooms

For an sudden colour combo, ‘Lilac Surprise’ candia tulip is without doubt one of the best species tulips to develop and is sort of keen to perennialize when given optimum rising circumstances. In truth, when tucked into the backyard after being compelled, this bulb nonetheless willingly returns for a number of springs. The flowers are lilac pink with shiny sunny yellow facilities (when the solar coaxes buds totally open), increasing the colour spectrum past the reds and yellows displayed in many of the species. Native to Crete, candia tulips are likely to have shorter stems than different tulip species. This choice is an absolute charmer close to entryways and en masse alongside walkways.

Title: T. saxatilis ‘Lilac Surprise’ (syn. T. bakeri ‘Lilac Surprise’)

Top: 6 to 10 inches

Bloom Time: Midspring

Kolpakowsky’s tulip sports cheery blooms that are great for massing

Kolpakowsky’s tulip sports activities cheery blooms which might be nice for massing

Hailing from Central Asia and picked up as early as 1877, this little heirloom tongue tornado has acid yellow flowers that stand out in a spring backyard. The blossoms have slender petals just like these of the woman tulips, however the flower stems are usually shorter. Plant the bulbs in lots to finest ramp up their message.

Title: T. kolpakowskiana

Top: 6 to eight inches

Bloom Time: Early to midspring

‘Alba Coerulea Oculata’ lowgrowing tulip
‘Alba Coerulea Oculata’ low-growing tulip Picture: Jennifer Benner

‘Persian Pearl’ low-growing tulip ‘Samantha’
‘Persian Pearl’ low-growing tulip ‘Samantha’ Picture: Tommy Tonsberg/

Low-growing tulip gives putting twists on colour and kind

Positively incomes the range award, this species has spawned a number of colour spins—from white-with-purple-centered ‘Alba Coerulea Oculata’ to magenta ‘Persian Pearl’ with its shiny yellow eye. With extra of a deep crimson colour, ‘Samantha’ is a later-blooming double spin that hardly seems to be like a species tulip aside from the skinny leaves and quick flower stems.

‘Samantha’ low-growing tulip
‘Samantha’ low-growing tulip Picture: Visions Premium/ 

Title: T. humilis and cvs. (syn. T. pulchella and cvs.)

Top: 4 to eight inches

Bloom Time: Mid to late spring

| Technique |

Defend your belongings

tulip bulbs
Picture: Jennifer Benner

Undoubtedly you might be questioning about all of the critters that carouse with the only function of stealing your tulip thunder. Similar to the large guys, species tulip bulbs and their rising elements are imperiled by nibbling creatures. One secret is to combine crushed oyster shells (aka hen grit) into the soil across the bulbs when planting them in autumn. This can dissuade chipmunks, squirrels, and different digging demons. The second the foliage breaks floor in spring, spray it with deer repellent after which preserve the functions coming, particularly when the repel­lent is washed off in spring showers.


  • Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, Gloucester, VA 877-661-2852
  • John Scheepers, Bantam, CT 860-567-0838
  • McClure & Zimmerman Randolph, WI 800-883-6998

Tovah Martin is a horticulturist, lecturer, and award-winning creator in northwestern Connecticut.



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