Tulipa praestans is a species of tulip that flowers very early, sometimes during the last part of March. Tulipa praestans (TEW-lih-pah PRAY-stanz), is a multi-flowered variety that creates a bold splash of color wherever it is grown. Tulipa is always placed in front of the name of a species of tulips. It is not the first species to come into flower, but it is the first with dramatic impact. It will give the early-flowering Kaufmanniana tulips a close race. Each bulb can produce from 3 to 6 flowers and reach nearly 12 inches high. It creates a bunch of vibrant color that becomes effective over a considerable distance.
The best variety is T. Praestans ‘Fusilier’ with 5 or 6 rounded flowers with a vibrant carrot orange color. Sometimes it is substituted with ‘Van Tubergen’s Variety’ by some establishments. It will have more of a reddish color and fewer blooms, but will reach 12 inches high.
Another variety which is actually a sport of ‘Fusilier’ is Tulipa praestans,‘Unicum’. It has 2 to 5 red flowers with a small yellow base and anthers that are a bluish-black color. It has variegated green leaves with a white edge. It is very pretty foliage for tulips. They grow in mid-spring as does the other species in this group. It should be planted in well drained soil. Always try to remove spent blooms on tulips so they will not have to waste energy on old blooms, but will be able to store up more food for next years growth.
A few bulbs of Tulipa praestans goes a long way and will do well along side paths or walkways, as well as in beds. You may note that cold temperatures will prolong the flowering periods and if cold enough can last into the following month.
This tulip species grows well in cottage gardens and rock gardens, since it doesn’t get too tall. It requires full sun to part shade and grows in nice clumps of beautiful multi-flowered plants. They are low maintenance plants and have low moisture requirements which make them ideal for rock or cottage gardens.
You might prefer to plant other varieties behind them such tulips derived from: tulipa kaufmanniana, T. Fosteriana and T. Greigii. They will all add to the beautiful show along other Single Early tulips.