Thanks for a beautiful 2023 Atlanta Blooms! Join us next year to celebrate a wonderful spring season.
The visual allure of tulips has drawn admirers for centuries. Native to modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and surrounding areas, tulips gained a particular fondness during the Ottoman Empire when they were first planted in gardens and used in floral arrangements. As with all good garden plants, other gardeners had to have them, and it wasn’t long before their popularity extended to the Netherlands and beyond.
Yet many southern gardeners do not know that these tulips – known as species tulips – are hardy unlike the bulbs they plant in fall for producing brightly colored showy flowers in spring. Generally, species tulips are not as tall or large-flowered as the hybrids that get all the press. Often they grow only 6 to 12 inches tall, their flowers are only a couple inches wide, and they tend to bloom for up to four weeks.
Species tulips are elegantly beautiful in their own right, and many can be discovered in the Garden in March and April along Crape Myrtle Alee and in the Rock Garden and Conifer Garden. A few favorites include:
Tulipa ‘Lady Jane’
Bluish foliage and stem with coral and white flowers standing straight at easily 12 inches.
Tulipa clusiana var. chrysantha
With similar height and foliage color, it differs with a sunny yellow and orange flower.
Unrelentingly cheerful at only 6 inches tall but with clear white flowers with bright yellow centers.
Flowers of various shades of orange, making it look like it’s on fire, at only 6 inches tall.
Tulipa bakeri ‘Lilac Wonder’
A small gem at about 4 inches tall but demands attention when in full bloom.
These species tulips make good choices for adding to the garden – best planted in fall like most spring bulbs – and will not disappoint if given good drainage and either full sun or partial shade. Many other species tulips are available, primarily through mail order. But beware: After growing these you may find yourself in pursuit of more. Take from the earliest fans of species tulip from centuries ago!