Although still six months away, now is the time to dream about spring flowers and plant
spring flowering bulbs. One of my favorites that I have discovered in the last few years
are Species Tulips. Species tulips are also sometimes called botanical tulips, wild
tulips, or rock garden tulips.
It is believed that species tulips grow in an area that runs from Central Asia to Spain
and Portugal and that roughly 150 different wild species exist. They are in the Liliaceae
Species tulips are generally smaller than hybridized tulips and grow to a height of
about 6”. As with other spring flowering bulbs, plant in the fall to a depth of about 4”,
but it is always best to follow the guidelines for planting that is listed on the bulbs
package. They will preform best in full sun to part sun in well drained soils. Their
hardiness zone runs from 3-9.
Species tulips are very good for naturalizing. They not only return each year, but they
multiply every year. In general they bloom for me in mid April. I had heard that species
tulips are critter resistant. The first year I planted them in an unprotected area, some
but not all of the blooms were eaten. Since that first year, none of the blooms or bulbs
have been eaten.
Tulip 'Tarda' is my favorite species tulip so far. This little gem was awarded the Award of
Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society and was pronounced ‘Flower Bulb of
the Year’ in Holland for the year 1997. Tarda was first cultivated commercially in 1590.
Another favorite is tulip ‘Norah’. This species tulip is a lovely shade of pink with a bluish
black basal coloring.
For more information on spring flowering bulbs see
Fall-Planted Bulbs and Corms - 7.410 - ExtensionExtension
Spring-Planted Bulbs, Corms and Roots - 7.411 - ExtensionExtension
Photos by Cherie Luke a Jefferson County Master Gardener