There are hundreds of different types of tulips. If you mix the different types in your garden, you can get both an extended bloom period and tons of interest and variety. Some work better planted in garden beds in large drifts, while some of these tulip varieties are absolutely perfect for growing in containers. Ultimately, which ones you grow will depend on your vision for your garden and your own particular tastes. No matter what you choose, it's going to be stunning.
Types of Tulips
In general, tulips are available in early, mid-spring, and late spring blooming varieties. By choosing one or two varieties for each time period, you can have tulips blooming all spring long in your garden.
Early Tulip Varieties
Early tulip varieties are the first you'll see blooming in your garden and include some tried-and-true favorites. Since they bloom so early, these varieties are great for planting beneath trees; by the time they're done blooming, the trees are usually just starting to leaf out, and the tulips will still have plenty of time to store energy in their bulbs for blooming next season.
Kaufmanniana tulips are dependable tulips that are reliably perennial. They grow to about four to 12 inches tall, depending on the variety. The blooms have a starry, waterlily-like shape when open, which is why they're often referred to as "water lily tulips." Some gorgeous Kaufmanniana tulips include:
- 'Chopin,' which is a bright yellow flower with intense red "flames" along the petals. 'Chopin' grows to about six to 10 inches tall and is great both for naturalizing in the garden and for forcing indoors.
- 'Oriental Beauty' has beautiful, intense red blooms, growing on plants that reach about 10 inches tall.
- 'Heart's Delight' is a dramatic tulip, with pale pink and white petals that are streaked with red and accented with yellow at the base of the petals.
Also called the Emperor tulip, Fosteriana have large, majestic blooms on 10- to 20-inch stems. Fosteriana make excellent cut flowers if you like having arrangements of tulips in vases, in addition to looking gorgeous planted in drifts or clumps in garden beds. They're known for their vibrant colors and strong stems. Some of the most popular Fosteriana tulips are:
- 'Golden Emperor' which is a bright, golden yellow.
- 'Red Emperor' has ruby red blooms.
- 'Orange Emperor' produces vibrant tangerine-orange flowers.
Single Early tulips feature single, cup-shaped blooms on 10- to 18-inch-tall plants. Many Single Early tulips are ideal for forcing and growing indoors and tend to be quite fragrant. Some of the most popular cultivars include:
- 'Beauty Queen,' which has fragrant flowers in a blend of pink, salmon, and apricot.
- 'Purple Prince' has deep purple blossoms and slightly ruffled petals.
- 'Christmas Marvel,' which has bright, fragrant pink flowers and grows one to two feet tall.
There are many different varieties of these early bloomers, which, as a group, tend to be shorter and better for the front of the garden bed or growing in containers. Most are four to 10 inches tall. A few popular varieties include:
- 'Lilac Wonder' has gorgeous purplish-pink flowers with bright yellow centers.
- 'Bright Gem' has tightly-formed flowers that are a delicate yellow-apricot tone.
- 'Cynthia' is a bicolor tulip that has grayish-green leaves and pink and white streaked petals.
- 'Peppermint Stick' produces slender white and dark pink-streaked blossoms.
Mid-Season Tulip Varieties
Mid-season varieties beautifully bridge the gap between the first flush of spring bloom and the almost riotous period of bloom that symbolizes the late spring garden. These tulips represent a variety of forms and sizes, providing plenty of interest in the spring garden.
These varieties are typically treated as annuals since they're not particularly long-lived. They have traditional cup-shaped flowers and grow up to 26 inches tall.
- 'Apricot Beauty' has fragrant, apricot blooms.
- 'Atila' is a dramatic violet-purple.
- 'Calgary' is a beautiful white flower.
This large, classic flower is the tallest and among the best for perennializing. They are perfect as cut flowers and ideal for forcing. Cultivars include:
- 'Apledoorn,' which has bright, apple-red flowers
- 'Queen of the Night,' which has nearly black blooms
- 'Burning Heart,' which has creamy flowers flamed in red and yellow
These mid- to late-blooming cultivars have cup-shaped flowers with attractive, fringed edges. They're available in a variety of sizes. Cultivars include:
- 'Blue Heron,' which has violet blooms
- 'Hamilton,' which has vibrant golden flowers
- 'Burgundy Lace,' which has deep burgundy blossoms and performs well as a perennial, reliably coming back year after year
Late Tulip Varieties
Just as mid-season tulips bridge the gap between early spring and late spring, late spring tulips help the garden transition from spring blooms into the first blooms of early summer.
Double Late Tulips
These are often called Peony tulips, because they have so many petals. The flowers bloom late and are very long-lasting. Most Double Late are about 16 inches tall.
- 'Angelique' has pale pink blooms blushed with darker pink.
- 'Lilac Perfection' is similar in appearance to a lavender rose.
- 'Carnaval de Nice' features a striking contrast of white and crimson streaks along its petals.
These blooms have a unique, reflexed shape similar to that of a lily. Most grow 14 to 24 inches tall. Cultivars include:
- 'West Point' is a bright, vibrant yellow.
- 'Aladdin' has red petals with yellow edges.
- 'White Triumphator' has pure white, graceful-looking blooms.
Ruffled, curly petals in striking color combinations give Parrot tulips a dramatic, elegant look. The height of these stunners ranges from 12 to 28 inches, and bloom times vary from mid to late spring. Parrot tulip varieties include:
- 'Black Parrot,' which has purple-black petals
- 'Orange Favorite,' which has frilled orange petals with subtle streaks of yellowy-orange
- 'Texas Flame,' which blooms yellow and red
A Wide Variety of Stunning Tulips
By selecting varieties from a few different types, you can have tulips blooming in your garden continuously from early spring through late spring, after which the summer-blooming annuals and perennials in your garden can take over. With the wide range of tulip colors, sizes, and types, you'll have plenty of diversity in your garden, even if tulips are the only thing blooming at the time!