How to Plant, Grow and Care for Parrot Tulips

Published March 24, 2022
Orange Parrot tulip

Parrot tulips are beloved for their dramatic appearance, vibrant colors, and overall romantic feeling. The good news: these dramatic-looking tulips are easy to grow and available in a wide range of colors and sizes.

What Are Parrot Tulips?

Parrot tulips have the same general form and shape as standard tulips, with cup-shaped blossoms and vibrant petal colors, but with one big difference. The petals have a frilled, curly, airy look to them that's reminiscent of a bird's feathers. Often, the petals of this type of tulip are streaked with at least two colors, though there are some solid-colored parrot tulip varieties available.

Parrot tulips have large, luxurious flowers, and can be found in a variety of sizes, from small, four inch tall treasures to larger varieties that are perfect for cut flowers. They're available in nearly every color of the rainbow, as well as bicolored varieties.

Planting Parrot Tulip Bulbs

Planting Parrot Tulip Bulbs

Plant parrot tulip bulbs in autumn, just as you would with other tulips. You can plant tulips in the spring, but it takes a bit of planning. To plant parrot tulips:

  1. Select a spot in full sun that has fertile, well-drained soil.
  2. Plant the bulb about three times as deep as the bulb is tall. In the case of parrot tulips, you'll want to plant the bulbs about six inches deep. Be sure to plant with the pointy end of the bulb pointing up.
  3. Give the bulbs a bit of bulb fertilizer or bone meal at planting time, according to the instructions on whichever fertilizer you use.
  4. Water after planting.

You can also plant parrot tulip bulbs in containers. Consider planting some of the shorter varieties in containers or even window boxes.

Caring for Parrot Tulips

Pink Parrot Tulips in morning dew

Tulips are pretty easy to care for, and that's equally true of parrot tulips. In spite of their exotic appearance, these plants are fairly hardy. Tulips grow best in areas cooler than Zone 7, since they need a cold period of at least 10 weeks in order to bloom.

Aside from fertilizing at planting, you might also want to fertilize parrot tulips when buds start to appear. Parrot tulips are generally treated as an annual; they don't reliably come back every year the way perennial tulips do.

When the flower fades, cut the flower stem off. At this point, you can leave the bulb where it is and let the foliage yellow and die back; if you leave it in its place in the garden, you might get one more year of bloom out of it, but that's not a guarantee. There's no harm in leaving it where it is and seeing what happens. In the meantime, it's probably a good idea to plant more parrot tulip bulbs every fall, just to be sure you have plenty of blooms.

Unless your area experiences an extended drought, you don't need to worry about watering tulip bulbs; they rot in overly wet soil.

Beautiful Parrot Tulip Varieties

There are more than 50 parrot tulip varieties. Here are a few favorite varieties:

  • 'Black Parrot' has deep, dramatic burgundy-black foliage and strong stems, which makes it wonderful as a cut flower.
Black Parrot tulip flower
  • 'Green Wave' is an absolute stunner with its pink-edged bright green petals. They grow to about 20 inches tall.
Green Wave Tulip in green grass and leafs
  • 'Salmon Parrot' has gorgeous peachy salmon petals with white edges. The blooms also have subtle touches of pale green and cream.
Salmon parrot tulips
  • 'Estella Rijnveld' almost has the appearance of one of those round peppermint hard candies you see around Christmas. Vibrant red and white streaks almost seem to swirl around these large flowers.
Estella Rijnveld tulips bloom in the garden
  • 'Pink Vision' is pink, and then darker pink on top of that, with touches of an even darker pink. Honestly, if you love dramatic pink flowers, this is the tulip for you.
Parrot Tulip Bulb-Pink Vision

Frilly Tulip Perfection

Tulips are beloved spring flowers for good reason: the sheer variety of sizes, colors, and forms is enough to make any flower lover blissfully happy. Parrot tulips offer a gorgeous, textural bit of drama to the spring flower garden, and they are absolutely perfect as cut flowers as well.

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How to Plant, Grow and Care for Parrot Tulips