What Kind of Tulips are You Growing?

By July 12, 2017 Bulbs, Tulips No Comments
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Darwin Hybrids such as Beauty of Spring are considered the best Tulips for gardeners seeking perennial performance. Many Tulips are annual, especially in warmer parts of the country, but Darwin Hybrids display greater vigor and often return for several springs.

There are dozens and dozens of species in the genus Tulipa, but only a handful are found in most gardens. Of those, many have a varied botanical ancestry: because Tulips have been in cultivation for so long, and were bred like crazy over a period of centuries, few are really “wild” in the sense that they can be found in undisturbed natural landscapes.

Always popular for their ease of growth and beautiful blooms, Tulips are continuously adding to their ranks with new cultivars. So, to make any sense of categorizing Tulips by characteristics, they are generally classified this way:

Division I – Single Early

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Lengthen your season of bloom by combining different Tulip divisions. Ballroom Blossoms, for instance, contains a Double Early (pink Foxtrot) and a Double Late (purple Mariola). They will overlap in bloom time, but also have solo shows!

Single flowers. Early season. Approx. height –12” to 18″.

Division II – Double Early

Full, double flowers. Early season. Approx.height – 12” to 20″.

Division III – Triumph

Cross between Single Early and Late-flowering. Comes in a wide range of colors. Mid season. Approx. height – 20″ to 24”.

Division IV – Darwin Hybrids

Produced as the result of crossing Darwin tulips with

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As breeding continues, Tulip classification is becoming muddier. Affaire is a “Victory” Tulip, for instance: a combination of Single Early and Darwin Hybrid.

Tulipa fosteriana. Large flowers on some of the tallest stems. Mid season. Approx. height – 20″ to 30”.

Division V – Single Late

Includes Darwin and Cottage Tulips. Once two distinct categories, these have been combined into one due to interbreeding. Wide variety of colors. Late season. Approx. height – 24” to 30″.

Division VI – Lily-flowered

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Frilly and fun, fringed Tulips such as Barbados really stand out.

Flowers with pointed, reflexed petals. Originally grouped with Cottage but given its own Division. Mid to late season. Approx. height – 26″.

Division VII – Fringed

Flower petals are edged with fringes. Originally grouped with Parrot Tulips. Mid to late season. Approx. height – 12″ to 24”.

Division VIII – Viridiflora

Petals display green streaks. Late season. Approx. height – 12″ to 24”.

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Queensland is a viridiflora Tulip, thanks to its beautiful outer petals of lime-green. Look at what happens as the flowers open . . .

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. . . The flower matures into a pink confection with fringed edges and little trace of the original green!

Division IX – Rembrandt

“Broken” Tulips, striped or marked brown, bronze, black, red, pink, or purple on red, white, or yellow background.


No one can resist a Parrot Tulip! This one is Frozen Night, shown just as it is beginning to unfurl. Eventually those petals will be spread outwards, twisty and gorgeous!

Division X – Parrot

Curled, ruffled petals. A variety of colors, some streaked. Late season. Approx. height – 12″ to 24”.

Division XI – Double Late

Peony-flowered tulips. Large flower heads. Late season. Approx. height – 20″ to 24”.

Division XII – Kaufmanniana

Also called “water-lily Tulips” because the petals open up fully in the sun. Mid season. Approx. height – 6″ to 10”.

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Fosterianas, like Sunglow Mix, bloom at the same time as late Daffodils, and their short stems keep them from flopping even in warm weather!

Division XIII – Fosteriana

Intensely colored flowers on short stems. Early to mid season. Approx. height – 6″ to 18”.

Division XIV – Greigii

Petals are pointed and brightly colored, sometimes a combination of two colors; foliage displays mottled or striped pattern. Early to mid season. Approx. height – 6″ to 14”.

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You can’t see its mottled leaves, but Tottori is a Greiggii variety, sporting dark crimson stems and a lovely mix of pink tones on every petal.

Division XV – Miscellaneous Species

Usually shorter in stature; naturalize freely. Early to late season. Approx. height – 4″ to 10”.



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