Tulips are equated with spring, and every year between late March and mid May, millions of people flock to see acres of these iconic flowers in bloom during tulip festivals throughout Western Washington. This year, the National Garden Bureau named the tulip “perennial of the year,” declaring 2018 the “Year of the Tulip.”
If you have been thinking of planting tulips in your garden, this is a good year to do it.
When I think of tulips, I typically picture the familiar, oval-shaped flower in solid colors such as red, white, peach, pink, purple or yellow. After visiting the Holland America Flower Gardens in Woodland, Washington, this month, I was surprised to learn that there are actually 16 types of tulip, or “divisions,” and more than 3,000 registered varieties, according to the National Garden Bureau.
There are tulips with flared tips, fringed tips, ruffled tips and pointed tips. Some have single petals, others have double petals and some even resemble lilies or peonies.
Tulips come in just about every color imaginable, including some unexpected hues such as black, blue, green and apricot, and some have streaks of more than one color.
With so many types available, it can make it hard to choose which ones to add to your garden. To make the decision a little easier, here is a list of seven late-blooming varieties whose unusual characteristics and brilliant color make them an excellent addition to any garden.
Double late: These tulips, also called “peony-flowered tulips” for their resemblance to peonies, have fuller flowers and more petals than the six-petal, single tulip. Tulip ‘Allegreto‘ is a popular variety in this division, with large, crimson petals and a touch of yellow on their tips.
Lily-flowered: The petals of these tulips flare out and are similar to lilies when the flowers are open. Tulip ‘Liva‘ is a new, fuchsia-colored variety for 2018 that will add richness to any garden.
Parrot: This type of tulip was developed from mutations and became popular because of the ruffled-appearance of its petals. Tulip ‘Rainbow Parrot‘ is a new variety for 2018 in this division, named for its multicolored petals.
Fringed: These tulips also developed from mutations, and their delicate petals look as if they have fringe on their tips. Tulip ‘Blue Heron‘ is a beautiful, award-winning purple variety in this division.
Rembrandt: The petals of these tulips have “broken colors” similar to those seen in still-life paintings of Rembrandt and other 17th century Dutch masters. Tulip ‘Rem’s Favorite‘ is a gorgeous variety in this division, with purple and white petals in the classic “broken-color” pattern).
Viridiflora: These cup-shaped tulips are sometimes called “green tulips” because of the unusual green streaks on their petals. Tulip ‘Artist‘ is a showy, award-winning variety with gold-orange petals in this division.
Fosteriana: This variety blooms in mid spring, and its bowl-shaped flowers often have striped leaves. Tulip ‘Red Emperor‘ has bright red petals and is one of the most popular varieties in this division. Tulip ‘Flames Mystery‘ is a new variety for 2018, with red and yellow petals.
When choosing which tulips to plant in your garden, you can have longer bloom-times if you select varieties from more than one division. All tulip varieties will do best in a well-drained spot where they can get at least six hours of sunlight every day during the growing season.
Plant your tulip bulbs in the fall, about six weeks before the ground freezes or before evening temperatures drop below 40 degrees, and they will put on a colorful show for you to enjoy in spring.