Plants - Flower Bulbs

Plant species tulips for a colourful show

Quirky and dramatic, these plants only fleetingly resemble modern garden varieties—but that’s what makes them so special

Perfect partners for species tulips
  • Kara Tau allium (Allium karataviense) Zone 4
  • Windflower (Anemone blanda and cvs.) Zone 4
  • Lungwort (Pulmonaria spp. and cvs.) Zone 4
  • Old pheasant’s eye (Narcissus poeticus var. recurvus) Zone 3
  • Early bulbous iris (Iris reticulata and cvs.) Zone 4

Eight great tulips to try

Horned tulip (Tulipa acuminata)
Height: 40-50   
Descrption: Glaucous, wavy leaves; solitary flowers have 10-cm-long spidery, pale red or yellow, pointed tepals (tulips don’t have petals or sepals, but rather “tepals,” which are undifferentiated petal-like structures that are fused together at their base). Blooms mid- to late spring. No known wild populations

Lady tulip (T. clusiana  
Height: 30-45   
Description: Glaucous leaves; one to two star-shaped flowers per stem, up to 10 cm across, white with dark pink to crimson striped outer tepals. Blooms in mid-spring; will naturalize if left undisturbed.
Native from Iran to Tibet

Dwarf rosy-purple tulip (T. humilis var. pulchella syn. T. pulchella)  
Height: 15-30   
Desription: Thin, glaucous leaves; one to three star-shaped, rose-mauve or purple flowers per stem, up to 8 cm across. Blooms in early spring. Native to Turkey and northern Iran

Marjollet tulip (T. marjolletii)   
Height: 40-45  
Description: Upright grey-green leaves; solitary 12-cm-wide flowers are creamy white with dark pink margins. Blooms in mid-spring. Native to southeast France

Leatherbulb tulip (T. praestans)   
Height: 20-35   
Description: Downy, grey-green leaves; four to five bowl-shaped orange-red flowers per stem, up to 12 cm across.Blooms in early spring. Native to Tajikistan and Kazakhstan

‘Lilac Wonder’ Candia tulip (T. saxatilis [Bakeri Group] ‘Lilac Wonder’)   
Height: 20-25
Description: Shiny, bright green leaves; one to four star-shaped, pink to lilac flowers with yellow centres per stem, up to 8 cm across. Blooms in mid- to late spring; fragrant. Native to Crete;
AGM 1995, reconfirmed in 2008

Late tulip (T. tarda)
Height: 10-15
Description: Bright green recurved leaves; one to six star-shaped, white flowers with yellow centres per stem, up to 6 cm across. Blooms in mid-spring, often sold erroneously as T. dasystemon.
Native to the Tian Shan, its blooms open in succession over a month—hence its epithet “late,” or “tardy”

Turkestan tulip (T. turkestanica)
Height: 20-25
Description: Linear, grey-green leaves; six to 12 star-shaped white flowers with greyish purple blotches per stem, up to 5 cm across    Blooms in mid-spring; malodorous flowers. Native to the Tian Shan;
AGM 1993, reconfirmed 2008

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