TulipsTulips are the most famous of the spring bloomers. We have made a distinction between different varieties, which differ in colour, height, flowering time and flower type. Tulips should not be missed in the spring planting schedule of the keen gardener. Most tulips are also suitable as cut flowers.
Spring Flowering Tulip Bulbs
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Tulips are possibly the best-known and most-loved hardy bulbous plants around. The “Tulipa” genus is part of the Liliaceae family and is native to large parts of the Mediterranean and southwest and Central Asia. Strictly speaking the Tulip is classed as a perennial flowering plant but in reality, apart from a number of proven perennial varieties, flower and plant quality usually deteriorates significantly in subsequent years and therefore, in order to guarantee top quality, we prefer to think of Tulips as annuals.
Tulip bulbs first came to Northwestern Europe, and Holland in particular, in the 16th century. In 1593 Carolus Clusius first planted tulip bulbs at Leiden University’s “Hortus Botanicus”. 1594, the first year of tulips flowering at the Hortus Botanicus is officially considered the year that the tulip arrived in Holland. These tulips eventually caused the infamous “Tulip Mania” in Holland when many growers and speculators alike first made and then lost vast fortunes. At one point, one tulip bulb was worth as much as a stately canal home in central Amsterdam!
There are 15 official divisions of tulips base on their flowering season:
Early flowering: Single early tulips, Double early tulips, Kaufmanniana tulips, Fosteriana tulips, Greigii tulips, Species tulips
Mid-season: Triumph tulips, Darwin hybrid tulips, Parrot Tulips
Late season: Single late tulips, Double late tulips, Lily-flowered tulips, Fringed tulips, Viridiflora tulips, Rembrandt tulips
Some would classify multiflowering tulips as an unofficial 16th division.
At Bulbs and beyond we have tried to simplify the division structure by merging some categories in order to make finding your favourite bulbs a little bit easier, but also because some divisions can in fact overlap somewhat. We have therefore divided our tulips in the following categories: botanical, single late, single early, Darwin hybrid, fringed, lily-flowered, parrot, triumph and double.
Planting tulip bulbs
Planting tulip bulbs requires very little skill. It is very hard to mess up planting these incredibly forgiving spring bulbs, as it really is a matter of digging a hole, scattering the bulbs in it, and wait until they come up. Sideways, upside down, deep, not so deep, for a tulip it doesn’t really make much of a difference. It will just come up when the time is right.
For those gardeners who like a little more discipline and formality however, as a rule of thumb, plant tulip bulbs around 10cm deep and 10-15cm apart in well-drained soil. Tulips like full sun, but tolerate partial shade. One thing to bear in mind is that the planting time for tulip bulbs is somewhat later than most other spring flowering bulbs. In order to avoid the disease “Tulip fire”, tulips should be planted when the soil is colder (from end of October to December).
Tip: Tulips are great cut flowers so do plant some extra for this purpose. Plant them in intervals or plant tulip varieties from different divisions to have flowers for many weeks if not months!