Many people don’t realize there are more than a dozen different types of tulips. The earliest ones open just after the crocuses; the late ones flower right before the peonies; and many others bloom in between.
Each type of tulip has its own special beauty and it’s fun to get to know them all. By planting varieties from each of the different bloom times, you can have tulips flowering for six weeks or more every spring. To see how the bloom time for tulips fits into the entire gardening season, check out our Bloom Time Chart for Spring and Summer Bulbs. Keep in mind that actual bloom times are influenced by weather, growing conditions and location.
Fosteriana – Emperor
Fosteriana tulips, also known as Emperor tulips, are the first large-flowered tulips to bloom each spring. This makes them ideal companions for daffodils. They have jumbo flowers on sturdy, 16” stems. Their blossoms open wide on sunny days and can measure up to 8” across. Shown above is Orange Emperor.
Double Early tulips have lots of extra petals that give the flowers a rose-like softness. They are a little shorter than most other tulips, generally standing about 12” tall. The flowers are long lasting in the garden and wonderful for bouquets. Shown above is Monsella. Also consider Abba, Cilesta, Color Burst, Double Flag, Foxtrot, Foxy Foxtrot, Margarita and Monte Orange.
Single early tulips have nice big blossoms with a classic tulip shape. They bloom during the peak of daffodil season and stand about 10-14” tall.
Darwin Hybrid Tulips
Darwin hybrid tulips are strong plants with extra-large flowers. They bloom in mid-spring and have a big presence in the garden. Darwin Hybrids are sometimes referred to as “perennial tulips” because if the growing conditions are favorable, the bulbs may rebloom for several years after planting. Ad Rem is shown above. Other Darwin hybrid favorites include Apricot Impression, Banja Luka, Blushing Apeldoorn, Cosmopolitan, Daydream, Golden Parade, Oxford, Pink Impression and Red Impression.
Most Greigii tulips produce two to four flowers per stem, so you get more color per bulb and a long blooming season. The foliage of these tulips often displays burgundy flecks or stripes. Shown above is Toronto. Other Greigii tulips include Casa Grande, Mary Ann and Red Riding Hood.
Triumph tulips bloom in mid-spring. They come in a rainbow of colors as well as many attractive bicolors. Such a wide variety of choices suggests endless color combinations. Triumph tulips stand 18 to 20” tall and are reliable performers for both gardens and containers. Shown above is Brilliant Mix. Other popular triumph tulips include Barcelona, Bastogne, Happy Generation, Jimmy, Princess Irene, Purple Lady and Ronaldo.
Viridiflora tulips, also known as "green tulips", display characteristic streaks of green on their petals. Most viridiflora tulips bloom in mid to late spring. They are long-lasting in the garden and a stunning addition to spring flower arrangements. Shown here is Flaming Spring Green.
Parrot tulips have fancy, ruffled petals and come in lots of fabulous color combinations, ranging from pure white through almost black. As the flowers mature, their petals twist, giving each blossom a unique look. Parrot tulips flower toward the end of the tulip season and are some of the best tulips for bouquets. Shown above is Parrot King. Other beauitiful parrot tulips include Black Parrot, Estella Rijnveld, Red Bright Parrot, Silver Parrot and White Parrot.
Lily-Flowered and Fringed
Lily-flowered tulips have long, elegant stems and narrow cups with flared petals. Fringed tulips have a delicate filigree along the edge of each petal that catches the sunlight. Both of these tulips make excellent companions for other mid and late season varieties and they are particularly beautiful in bouquets. Shown above are Marilyn on the right and Lambada on the left.
Double Late tulips have plush, peony-like flowers. They are beautiful when planted on their own and are perfect partners for classic single tulips. Several varieties are wonderfully fragrant and all are outstanding in bouquets. Shown above is Creme Upstar. Consider some of these other double late tulips: Angelique, Backpacker, Carnival de Nice, Midnight Magic and Yellow Pomponette.
These extra-large, long-lasting tulips are also known as French or cottage tulips. They can grow up to 28” tall and have shapely, perfectly formed flowers. Single late tulips are heat tolerant and have a regal presence in the garden. Tulip Dordogne is shown above. Other outstanding single late tulips include Menton, Queen of Night, Sky High Scarlet and Violet Beauty.