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Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Perennials

Wildflower Tulips (page 3 of 3)

by Becky Heath

Favorite Species Tulips and Their Hybrids

Native to areas ranging from Europe to central Asia and China, the following 22 species of wild tulips are charming and widely available. All are, technically, "other species." Tulipa fosteriana, T. greigii, and T. kaufmanniana are not commercially available as wild species but are categorized as hybrids with the characteristics of wild tulips.

Bloom season isbased on typical zone-6 bloom times: "early" (March to April), "midseason" mid- to late April, and "late" (April to late May). South of zone 6, blooms come early; north of zone 6, they come later.

Recommended zones are guidelines, not absolutes. Exploit microclimates and provide good growing conditions to promote growth.

T. albertii. Midseason bloom. Height is 10 to 12 inches. Zones 6 through 8.

T. bakeri 'Lilac Wonder'. Blooms early. Height is 6 to 8 inches. Zones 5 through 9.

T. batalinii hybrids. All bloom midseason and grow 4 to 6 inches high. Best varieties are: 'Apricot Jewel'--see photo-its leaves form a lovely rosette; 'Bright Gem'--a fragrant flower of soft sulfur yellow with an orange-sherbet flush; 'Red Gem'--red petals with an apricot glow; and 'Yellow Jewel'--pale yellow flowers with a dusting of rose, and prostrate leaves. Zones 4 through 8.

T. biflora. Blooms early. Fragrant. Height is 4 inches. Each bulb produces one to five small flowers that open wide. Zones 4 through 8.

T. clusiana hybrids. Sometimes called lady tulips, these varieties bloom in midseason on 8- to 10-inch stems. Varieties are: 'Lady Jane'--alternating red petals and white petal-like sepals suggest a candy cane. It is a readily available strong grower; 'Cynthia' (similar to T. clusiana chrysantha)--red petals with chartreuse edges, a purple base, and soft green anthers; 'Tubergen's Gem'. Zones 4 through 10.

T. eichleri (also known as T. undulatifolia). This early bloomer reaches 10 to 12 inches tall and multiplies rapidly. Zones 4 through 8.

T. hageri. Midseason blooms grow atop 5- to 6-inch stems. 'Splendens' grows 8 inches tall and produces three to five coppery bronze flowers per stem. Zones 4 through 9.

T. humilis (also known as T. pulchella). Small, crocus-shaped flowers are normally pale pink with a yellow center, but some are dark purple with black or purple bases. Very early bloomer. One, but sometimes three flowers, to a stem. Height is 4 inches.
Varieties include: T. h. albocaerulea-occulata--white with a deep steel-blue base; 'Eastern Star'--magenta-rose with a bronze-green flame outside and a canary yellow base; 'Lilliput'--red with a violet base and more than one flower per stem; 'Odalisque'--rosy-red outer petals with a silvery glow, striped green at the base, and the inner petals are beet-purple with a large yellow base; 'Persian Pearl'; and 'Violacea'--pointed purplish rose petals with green-tinged lower part and a yellow basal blotch margined with blue or greenish black. Zones 4 through 9.

T. kolpakowskiana. Yellow flowers streaked with red come one to three per stem in mid- to late season on 6- to 8- inch stems. Wavy-edged leaves lie nearly flat against the ground. Zones 5 through 8.

T. linifolia. Blooms midseason on 4- to 6-inch stems. Zones 5 through 8.

T. neustruevae. Blooms early. Height is about 4 inches. Zones 4 through 8.

T. orphanidea. Sometimes called the Spartan tulip, blooms on 8- to 10-inch stems in early spring. Yellow-flowered T. orphanidea 'Flava' is long-blooming. Spreads by stolons. Zones 5 through 9.

T. polychroma. Five blooms per stem appear early in the season. Height is about 4 inches. Zones 5 through 8.

T. praestans. Up to four flowers on 12- to 16-inch stems bloom in midseason. Orange-red 'Fusilier' is shorter but offers up to five flowers per stem. 'Unicum' also has five flowers per stem, but is slightly less cold hardy. 'Zwanenburg' has slightly larger and darker flowers compared to 'Fusilier', but it may be difficult to find. Zones 4 through 9.

T. saxatilis. Also called the Candia tulip, it grows 6 to 8 inches high. In sunlight, flowers open early in the season into an elegant star shape. This species is excellent for mild-winter climates and will multiply rapidly farther south than other tulips. Spreads by fat, white stolons. Zones 5 through 10.

T. sylvestris. Also called the Florentine tulip, the sweet, musk-scented flowers come one or two per 10- to 12-inch stem in late spring. Spreads via stolons. Zones 4 through 9.

T. tarda (also known as T. dasystemon tarda). Fragrant flowers bloom early. Each 3- to 4-inch stem produces up to six flowers. The plant multiplies rapidly. Zones 4 through 8.

T. turkestanica. Up to seven petals bloom on 3- to 10-inch stems. The species is variable, however. Some have black centers, and some have red centers. Blooms early and multiplies readily. Zones 4 through 8.

T. urumiensis. Three to five flowers per stem. Blooms early to midseason. Height is 4 inches. Zones 4 through 8.

T. vvedenskyi 'Tangerine Beauty'. Petals open wide, bending backward in bright sun. Blooms mid- to late season. Height is 8 to 10 inches. Zones 5 through 8.

T. whittallii. One of my favorites and an amazing naturalizer, this tulip blooms in midseason. Height is 8 to 10 inches. Zones 4 through 8.

T. wilsoniana (also known as T. montana). Flowers open wide in full sun, and with the central yellow anthers, the effect is striking. Blooms late. Height is 4 to 6 inches. Zones 5 through 8.

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