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March 2008
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Some information on Tulips

It’s a sad and sometimes frustrating fact that hybridized tulips “burn-out” every few years or so. You might be surprised to know that species tulips are not prone to burn-out and will return to the garden every spring for many years. Now don’t be mistaken, species tulips are different than hybrids. They perform best in rock garden-like locations, require full sun, and well-drained, almost gravelly soils that drain quickly between rains.
Species tulips are smaller in size than their hybrid relatives. Most grow just 4 to 12 inches in height and do not like the competition of other plants around them. Species tulips spread by self sown seeds or stolons. Many have foliage which is mottled or gray to blue green in color. They also offer more in the way of bloom. Many have multiple blooms per stem, some have up to seven!

Interested? Some species to try include:

a.. Tulipa batalinii has soft yellow, fragrant flowers appearing in early spring. It grows just 5 inches tall.
b.. Tulipa clusiana grows 10 to 12 inches tall and blooms in early spring The flowers have a white interior with a crimson central star and a pink exterior. It naturalizes very well.
c.. Tulipa greigii comes in pink, yellow, orange, red, buff, cream, and apricot. It grows 8 to 12 inches tall and blooms in mid-spring. The blossoms are large – 4 to 5 inches when fully open.
d.. Tulipa kaufmanniana grows 6 to 8 inches tall and is available in a wide variety of colors. It blooms in early spring.
e.. Tulipa linifolia grows 4 to 6 inches tall with brilliant red flowers.
f.. Tulipa pulchella is a tiny plant growing 3 to 5 inches tall. It has violet purple fragrant flowers in early spring.
g.. Tulipa saxatillis naturalizes readily. The flowers, lavender-pink with a yellow base, appear mid-spring. Plants grow 6 to 8 inches tall.
h.. Tulipa sylvestris grows 10 to 12 inches tall with fragrant yellow flowers. Flowers occur 3 to 7 per stem.
i.. Tulipa tarda flowers are yellow with white tips. Plants grow 4 to 6 inches tall. This tulip is easy to grow!
j.. Tulipa turkestanica has cream colored flowers occurring 3 to 5 per stem. Flowers appear in early spring. Plants grow 5 to 8 inches tall.
All the species tulips listed above are hardy in zones 4 through 7 with the exception of Tulipa pulchella and Tulipa turkestanica which are hardy in zones 5 to 8. All should do fine in the greater Kansas City area.

When preparing the site, amend the area several inches wider and deeper than the bulbs will occupy with sand or gravel. Planting on a gentle slope or in a raised bed assures good drainage. Plant the bulbs 5 to 8 inches deep Species tulips are also suitable for planting in containers.

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