The Best Tulips in the Universe
Actually, in my mind the best tulips in the universe are whatever tulips I have blooming at that particular moment. One of the advantages of growing tulips in containers is you can try different varieties every year. But I will say that this seemed to be a particularly good year for tulips – maybe because of the cool spring.
For anyone interested in finding some new tulip varieties to try, here is a rundown of the varieties I had in containers this year – I would recommend any of them.
Because I am in a pedantic mood, I want to mention that for horticultural purposes tulips are divided into groups or divisions. Depending on who you ask, there are 13, 14, or 15 divisions. These groups do help clarify the characteristics of the thousands of varieties out there. I know this only because of a class I took at CBG this spring.
Species tulips make up one group, and I grow them in my beds and borders. Most of the varieties I use for containers do not perennialize well. I do have some hybrids in the beds and borders, mostly Darwin hybrids, which perennialize fairly well. Kaufmanianna and Fosteriana (also called Emperor) tulips are also relatively long-lived.
Single Early Tulips. These tulips are generally compact and bloom mid-April.
- ‘Couleur Cardinal’. This is considered one of the best tulips for containers. The flowers are a deep scarlet flushed with plum purple – definitely commands attention. This is a tulip with a venerable lineage, going back to 1845, according to garden writer Anna Pavord.
- ‘Flair’. Yellow dramatically feathered with red. Though sometimes it seems to be more red feathered with yellow.
- ‘Sunny Prince’. This is a pale yellow tulip that contrasts well with its more dramatic companions. The foliage has a subtle variegation.
Single Late Tulips. These are much taller tulips that bloom in May.
- ‘Kingsblood’. Dark red and about 24″ tall.
- ‘World Expression’. One of the most dramatic tulips, with red flames on gleaming ivory.
Other Tulip Groups.
- ‘Rainbow Warrior’ (Darwin hybrid group). This tulip is a deeper yellow than ‘Sunny Prince’, and has a faint scarlet stripe down the center of the tepals. The Darwin hybrids are descended from bulbs considered not garden-worthy because they had only a single color. Grows about 2′ tall and blooms in May.
- ‘West Point’ (Lily flowering group). An elegant slim-waisted tulip of bright, clear yellow and pointed tepals. It is supposed to be fragrant, but I have never noticed a scent. Grows to about 20″ and blooms in May.
As to the Darwin hybrids I have growing in the beds and borders, I’m sorry to say I have lost track of the varieties.
What are your favorite tulips?