Most modern tulip cultivars bloom well for only 3 or 4 years. However, there are some tulip types (classes) that bloom well over a longer time period. When purchasing tulips in the next few weeks, choose from the following types if you want perennial-type tulips with attractive flowers.
Darwin hybrid tulips are generally the longest blooming hybrid tulip. Darwin hybrid tulips are prized for their large, brilliant flowers. Flowers are available in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, and white. Blooms are borne on stems that are up to 30 inches tall. Darwin hybrid tulips bloom in mid-season. Popular cultivars include 'Apeldoorn' (cherry red), 'Come Back' (dark red), 'Daydream' (yellow to apricot orange), 'Golden Apeldoorn' (primrose yellow), 'Golden Parade' (buttercup yellow), 'Ollioules' (rose with silvery white edges), 'Parade' (signal red), 'Pink Impression' (rose pink), and 'Red Impression' (bright red).
Fosteriana tulips also perennialize well. They are noted for their large, elongated flowers. Flowers appear in early spring on 10- to 20-inch-tall stems. Foliage is typically green or gray green. However, a few cultivars have mottled or striped foliage. Fosteriana tulips are also known as Emperor tulips. Popular cultivars include 'Albert Heijn' (rose pink), 'Juan' (bright orange with yellow base), 'Madame Lefeber' (red), 'Orange Emperor' (soft orange), 'Purissima' (white) and 'Yellow Purissima' (canary yellow).
Species tulips are generally the longest lived tulips. Some naturalize when given favorable growing conditions. Species tulips include wild tulip species and cultivars developed from these wild species. Species tulips are usually smaller than modern tulips. They also have smaller flowers. Species tulips are excellent choices for rock gardens and in the front of beds and borders. They are also sometimes referred to as botanical tulips. Popular species/cultivars include Tulipa bakeri 'Lilac Wonder' (lilac pink with yellow heart), Tulipa batalinii 'Bright Gem' (sulfur yellow flushed with orange), Tulipa clusiana 'Lady Jane' (red and white), Tulipa clusiana 'Cynthia' (red edged chartreuse yellow), Tulipa linifolia (bright red), Tulipa 'Peppermint Stick' (red and white), Tulipa praestans 'Fusilier' (orange-red), and Tulipa tarda (yellow and white).
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