A symbol of spring, tulips are the most popular bulbs and most gardeners reserve them a spot in the garden or in containers. There are currently over 3,000 registered varieties, which are divided into fifteen groups, mostly based on the flower type, size and blooming period of the tulip.
- The 'Single' denomination comes from their unique cup-shaped six-petal flower.
- Single tulips can be early spring bloomers and are denoted as ''Single Early" with an their average size of about 10 to 18 inches (25 - 45 cm).
- Late spring bloomers, "Single Late", are comparatively bigger with a height averaging 18 and 30 inches (45 - 75 cm).
- Also called 'peony' tulips because of their shapes, their elegant flowers can be as wide as 10 inches (25cm).
- Sensitive to rain or wind, they will do well in a sheltered spot.
- Their average size is between 12 - 16 in. (30-40 cm). Similar to the Single tulips, the Double Tulips have Early and Late bloomers.
Fosteriana Tulips feature solitary, bowl-shaped flowers, 5 in. wide (12 cm), with a slender shape and large, sometimes striped, leaves. Reds are strongly represented in this assortment. The most famous of its cultivars is 'Madame Lefeber', better known as 'Red Emperor'. Naturalizing is possible with these tulips. Flowering in early to mid spring, they will be among the first ones to bring color in your garden and grow up to 10-20 in. tall (25-50 cm). As an added bonus, some of the Fosteriana Tulips are fragrant.
These tulips are noted for their brightly contrasting colors. The flowers open wide during the sunny hours of the day providing an entirely different color effect than when closed. The flower shape also changes dramatically; when open they resemble a shining star. Blooming in superb combinations of red, rose and golden yellow in early to mid spring, these showy prima donnas are low growers at 6-12 inches tall (15-30 cm) and are ideal in rock gardens or containers.
Greigii tulips produce single bowl-shaped flowers in early to mid spring. The principal colors are red, yellow and white. Combined with their stunning spotted and striped leaves, these flower colors create an unforgettable visual impact. These qualities make Greigii tulips unsurpassed for use in borders, rock gardens, and in pots. Very reliable perennials, these tulips are low growing (8 - 12 inches, 20 - 30 cm).
These tulips were developed in the Netherlands: Mr. D.W. Lefeber, the prominent Dutch breeder, was the one who watched over the early beginnings of this type. He crossed the famous Tulipa fosteriana 'Madame Lefeber' (also known as 'Red Emperor') with various cultivars from the group of tulips then known as the Darwin tulips. The result of this cross-breeding was a series of tulips that excelled due to their flower size and sturdy, long stems. Due to these qualities, these tulips have really made a name for themselves as cut flowers, and are cultivated extensively for this purpose. Their egg-shaped, single blooms, up to 3 in. wide (8 cm), are available in a wide range of colors including orange, red, yellow and pink varieties as well as varieties with differently colored speckles and stripes on their petals. Among the best for naturalizing, these tulips provide blooms up to 5 years and rise up to 20-28 in. tall (50-70 cm) in mid-late spring.
Triumph Tulips are by far the largest group of tulips, including many different cultivars. Growing only 10-16 inches tall (25-45 cm) on sturdy stems, they withstand April's showers and offer a vibrant display of colors in the garden in mid to late spring. Flowers are single and cup-shaped and bloom in an endless assortment of colors. Triumph tulips are among the best tulips for forcing.
More and more people are becoming interested in Fringed Tulips - so that these tulips now have their own group. It must be remembered, however, that because the tulips in this group are mutants from various other groups, that heights and flowering periods will vary somewhat among them. The one characteristic they have in common though, is their finely incised petals. Flowering in mid or late spring, they rise up to 14-30 in. (35-75 cm) and bring elegance to the garden.
What makes Lily-Flowered Tulips different from other tulip varieties are their slender flowers with often pointed, recurving petals. The flower stems are thin and not very sturdy, making them susceptible to wind damage. Most bloom in late spring, a few in mid spring. Some make good cut flowers, others are fragrant. But all are incredibly beautiful and should be considered in your seasonal plantings. They typically grow up to 16-24 in. tall (40-60 cm).
These whimsically-shaped, unusually-colored tulips have been developed from mutations of certain late-flowering tulips, and from tulips in the Triumph group. The petals of these tulips are serrated or 'fringed'. As the large flowers are exposed to the sun over time, they open so wide that they almost flatten out. The flowers are green as buds, and as they grow it may seem as if the tulips will remain entirely green forever. But as the flower matures and opens, resembling a parrot's plumage, the brilliant colors are revealed. Blooming in late spring, Parrots Tulips grow up to 14-26 inches tall (35-65 cm)
At this time, Viridiflora Tulips form the least significant of the tulip groups. Many gardeners looking for unusual plants, however, quickly find what they want in this group. What makes these tulips so fascinating is that their petal color includes green, in stripes or flames on the back of the petals. Their overall bloom shape is cupped, to about 3 inches across (7 cm). Blooming in late spring, these spectacular tulips enjoy long-lasting blooms (3 weeks!) and look ravishing in a vase! Typically they reach 16-20 in. (40-50 cm).
Botanical tulips have a natural look. They stay nice and close to the ground, and they seem to be in flower as soon as they emerge from the soil. Their bright colors make them real eye-catchers in early spring. The striped leaves of many varieties make these even more appealing. And another important thing: these ‘wild’ tulips won’t be bothered by wind and weather.