Tulip (Tulipa) Fact and Information Guide

Tulips, tulipa, are no doubt the star of the bulb world. Find tulip facts and information to help you grow your own beautiful tulips. Yardandgardenrescue.com has many articles on starting a tulip gardenplanting tulips, caring and storing tulips, tulip diseases, tulip virus history, tulipa, and many more helpful ideas and tips.

Tulip Facts and Information

Tulips belong to the family Liliaceae and the genus Tulipa, pronounced (tuu-lip’ah). There are 109 species in the tulip family and about 3000 varieties to choose from. Many of these are not readily available for commercial sell. Tulips come in many varieties, each with their own unique characteristics and bloom times. There colors are breath taking, especially when planted in mass beds. They are perennial bulbs that will achieve it’s best bloom in the first year. If they bloom the following years in the same location, they will be very small.

The word “Tulipa” will always precede the name of the species. A complete list can be found at www.pacificbulbsociety.org/pbswiki/index.php/TulipaSpeciesOne. Most cultivars that we have today are taken from Tulipa gesneriana, also known as ‘Didier’s’ Tulip.

Tulipa gesneriana

Facts and Information on Tulips:

Classification of Tulips

Tulips are classified in several ways: according to when they bloom and are also divided into fifteen groups or divisions based on their shape and size.

Most tulips will bloom sometime between March and May. This will depend on the particular variety of the tulip.

Tulip Flowering Seasons and Varieties in each group

1. Early- consists of Single Early and Double Early tulips. This includes Greigii tulips, Kaufmanniana tulips, Fosteriana tulips and Species tulips.

Kaufmanniana tulips, 6-12”tall, also known as water-lily tulips, bloom in March and have widely opened flowers but have short stems.

Gregii Hybrid tulips, 6-10”, flower in April and have cup shaped flowers on short to medium stems and chocolate striped leaves.

Early singles, 6-18 “,and doubles, 12-18”, bloom in April and have single or double blooms as the name implies.

2. Mid-season- These tulips bloom in May and include Darwin Hybrid tulips, Triumph tulips, and Parrot tulips.

Darwin and Darwin Hybrid Tulips, 24-36”, have single flowers on long stems.

Parrot tulips, 22-28”, have very large single flowers. Their petals may be frilled or wrinkled in appearance.

Triumph Tulips, 18-24”, This is the largest class of tulips and well known because of their traditional tulip shape.

3. Late-season- This group are the Single and Double Late Tulips, the Lily-flowering tulips, Fringed tulips, Rembrandt tulips, and Viridiflora Tulips.

Lily-flowered tulips, 18-24”, have single flowers with pointed reflexing petals on long stems.

Fringed tulips, 18-24”, bloom for a long time and have the fringed edges on the top of their petals.

Rembrandt tulips growing 18-24”, are actually mutants of the original Rembrandt tulips which are no longer sold commercially. They had streaks and markings in their colors making them very unique. They were very popular until the cause of the pattern was detected. A virus was the cause of the beautiful and unusual coloring. Because of this they were no longer produced because of the widespread virus that could contaminate all tulips.

Viridflora tulips, 18-24”, will all have a very distinctive green stripe, or spine down each flower petal.

Colorful Tulip Mixture

Growing Tulips

Be sure to start planning your tulip bed ahead of time. There are so many varieties and ways to plant your bulbs, that you should plan how you want to arrange your bulbs. Tulips grow their best in full sun and must have well drained loamy soil. Tulips are bulbs and are planted 4 to 6 inches into the soil. This can be a problem if you have a lot of water building up in the soil as this will cause the bulbs to rot. There is a lot of information available on how to plant and care for tulips available.

Many tulips are actually hybrid cultivars that are grown in home gardens ,as well as pot plants and as cut flowers. You will find many species that are easily grown in your area. Tulips are easy to care for once they are planted.

Soil Preparation and Planting of Tulips

You should dig your soil up to a depth of 8 to 10 inches and work in plenty of manure or compost and finish off with bonemeal. Bonemeal should be added at 3 oz.per sq. Yd.

Bulbs should be planted 4 in. Apart and in holes 4 to 6 inches deep during the months of September, October, and November. This will depend on the region of the country that you live in. You don’t want to plant the tulips too early and have them to begin growing prematurely.

Plant them firmly into your 4-6 inch hole and add your bonemeal before covering and watering them. Don’t water too much.

Lifting Tulips

Tulips can be lifted in June or July when leaves have died down and store in shallow trays in a cool, dry place until replanting time. The small ones that you dig up should be planted in a nursery bed with other small bulbs so they can grow and mature. They will not bloom if planted when they are small. The larger bulbs should be stored where they can be kept dry until the next planting season arrives.

Many people practice putting bulbs into the refrigerator about 6 weeks before they are to be planted so they can get use to the cool temperatures.

Botrytis Blight

Tulip Diseases

Tulips will be effected by the ordinary pests and diseases that attack most plants, such as, aphids, caterpillars, slugs, mice, and gray mold. Bulbs have some particular troubles of their own.

Tulips may be damaged by a disease known as Botrytis Blight -'Tulip Fire', which causes leaves, flowers and stems to wither as if burned. They will have tan spots on the flowers or leaves. If this disease is troublesome, spray with folpet fungicide every 10 to 14 days from March to May, except while plants are flowering.

Eelworms (a nematode) sometimes infest bulbs causing distortion of leaves and stems. Such plant should be burned and the site not used for bulbs for several years.

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