Are you tired of replacing your hybrid tulips every few years?Would you like a tulip that naturalizes well? The answer lies inthe selection of species tulips.
Species tulips are different than hybrid tulips. Theyperform best in rock garden-like locations. They require full sun,and well-drained, almost gravelly soils that drain quickly betweenrains. When preparing the site, amend the area several incheswider and deeper than the bulbs will occupy with sand or gravel. Planting on a gentle slope or in a raised bed assures gooddrainage. Plant the bulbs 5 to 8 inches deep.
Species tulips are smaller in size than their hybridrelatives. Most grow just 4 to 12 inches in height and do not likethe competition of other plants around them. Species tulips spreadby self sown seed or stolons. Their foliage is attractive. Manyhave foliage which is mottled or gray to blue green in color. Species tulips offer more in the way of bloom. Many have multipleblooms per stem, some have up to 7.
Species tulips can be used with other spring blooming plantssuch as pasque flower or grape hyacinth. Siberian iris and crestediris also make excellent companions. Species tulips are alsosuitable for containers.
Some species to try include:
Tulipa batalinii has soft yellow, fragrant flowers appearing inearly spring. It grows just 5 inches tall.
Tulipa clusiana grows 10 to 12 inches tall and blooms in earlyspring. The flowers have a white interior with crimson centralstar and a pink exterior. It naturalizes very well.
Tulipa greigii comes in pink, yellow, orange, red, buff, cream, andapricot. It grows 8 to 12 inches tall and blooms in mid-spring.The blossoms are large, 4 to 5 inches when fully open.
Tulipa kaufmanniana grows 6 to 8 inches tall and is available in awide variety of colors. It blooms in early spring.
Tulipa linifolia grows 4 to 6 inches tall with brilliant redflowers.
Tulipa pulchella is a tiny plant growing 3 to 5 inches tall. Ithas violet purple fragrant flowers in early spring.
Tulipa saxatillis naturalizes readily. The flowers, lavender-pinkwith a yellow base, appear mid-spring. Plants grow 6 yo 8 inchestall.
Tulipa sylvestris grows 10 to 12 inches tall with fragrant yellowflowers. Flowers occur 3 to 7 per stem.
Tulipa tarda flowers are yellow with white tips. Plants grow 4 to6 inches tall. This tulip is easy to grow.
Tulipa turkestanica has cream colored flowers occurring 3 to 5 perstem. Flowers appear in early spring. Plants grow 5 to 8 inchestall.
All the species tulips listed above are hardy in USDA hardinesszones 4 through 7 with the exception of T. pulchella and T.turkestanica. They are hardy in zones 5 to 8. Many more speciestulips are available just waiting for the opportunity to grow inyour garden.
This article originally appeared in the September 16, 1994 issue, p. 141.