Types of Tulips

Find out what types of tulips you have in your garden or which ones you’d like to grow.

| Fall 2014

Tulips started as an unknown number of individual species and have been the subject of unusually intense selective breeding and selection for at least 400 years. The essence of the effort is to arrive at as many different colors, flower forms, growth habits and maturity dates as possible. The centuries of labor have yielded incredible diversity.

Most of the tulip hybrids can be classified into one of the standard types which are shown here:

tulip type chart

Species Tulips

Species tulips were naturally occurring before humans ever cultivated the flowers. In horticulture, “species” in this context means the wild types themselves, as well as improvements based upon selections made within a single species. They tend to be smaller-flowered than modern hybrid types, on smaller plants, and of the more limited color range typically to be found within a single species.

It may sound like these drawbacks would limit their value in the garden, but it isn't so! Species types tend to be vigorous, often carrying many blooms at once. The flowers, though smaller, are of course more natural looking, being usually very delicately put together. Their colors, however, are often as brilliant as tulips can be! The chaste flowers are excellent in rock gardens, as the edge of ornamental borders of all persuasions, in containers, and anywhere their miniature beauty can be savored.

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