Tulips are among the most popular of bulbs with around 75 wild species. They belong to the family Liliacea with native range extending from North Africa to Ukraine and China.
Tulips are perennials that grow from bulbs and bloom in spring. Most tulip plants are between 4 and 28 inches high and can only produce one flower per stem. Tulip flowers come in a variety of colors and their stems have few leaves.
Tulips thrive in climates with long, cool springs and dry summers. Tulip bulbs are typically planted around late summer and fall, in well-drained soils, and are normally from 4 to 8 inches deep. Tulips grown from seeds often need five to eight years before plants are of flowering size. The Netherlands is the world’s main producer of commercial tulip plants. They produce as many as three billion bulbs annually with the majority for export.
Tulips are divided in fifteen divisions based on flower cup shape and time of bloom.
1. Single Early – cup shaped with one flower per short stem, they have strong stems that will withstand wind or rain. These tulip bulbs are the earliest bloomers of the taller tulips.
2. Double Early – they have more than the usual number of petals with a fluffy appearance.
3. Darwin Hybrid – cross between Darwin and the Fosteriana, they have huge, vibrant flowers on strong stems are known to return for multiple years when planted in a nice sunny spot with good drainage, fertilized regularly and not cut for bouquets.
4. Single Late – one bloom per stem, wide range of colors and late season bloomers.
5. Fringed – distinct frayed edge on their petals. Fringe may be the same color as the rest of the petal or it may contrast. The fringe makes the flowers appear full of substance. Late season bloomer with 12-18″ stems.
6. Viridiflora – multicolored with vertical color banding some of these exhibit complicated color patterning, like an artist’s mixing pallette. Late season blooms on 12-24″ stems with distinctive green streaks in their petals.
8. Lily-flowered – Tall (18-24″), late season bloomers with pointed, slightly flared petals.
9. Rembrandt – tulips were most expensive and most wanted during Tulipomania, these tulips are no longer grown commercially because the coloring was caused by a virus that spreads to other tulips.
10. Parrot – are renowned for their show stopping blooms. The flowers are large, with twisted, curling petals on tall (12-24″) stems. Late season.
11. Double Late – also called the Peony Tulip, these tall (18-24″) tulips have enough petals to rival a peony bloom. The blossoms are extremely large; when fully open they can be as much as 4 inches (10 cm) across.
12. Kaufmanniana – also known as Water Lily Tulips, they early-spring bloomers that get their common name from their resemblance to the blooms of waterlilies when their flowers are fully open. The leaves have brownish-purple mottling and the plants are only 6-12″ tall.
13. Fosteriana – also known as Emperor Tulips, they bloom early in the spring with large cup-shape flowers. Blooms mid-season on 8-15″ plants.
14. Greigii – are fairly short as tulips go, but the blooms are very large in proportion to the plant as a whole. They come in very bright colours, like red and yellow, and the flowers open wide in full sun, creating cup-shaped blooms that can be more than 5″ (12 cm) in diameter when fully open.
15. Species or Wild Tulips – short (4-12″) plants with lots of variety and varying bloom times.
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