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There are so many varieties of tulips available for purchase. But what many new gardeners don’t know is that all tulips are not created equal. In fact, many of the hybrid tulip varieties look amazing in their first year. But, over time they lose their mojo or even completely fail to bloom. In fact, many landscapers treat tulips as annuals; once they are done blooming, they are dug up and tossed in the compost pile.

But, not all tulips are created equal. While some varieties lose their luster in subsequent years, here are some tulips that will come back strong.

Fosteriana Tulips

Early in the 20th Century, a talented Dutch hybridizer named Lefeber worked long and hard with a wild red tulip called ‘Tulipa fosteriana’ from Central Asia. From it, he hybridized the group that became known as the Emperor Tulips, which are members of the ‘Fosteriana’ (or Foster) Tulip group.

Candela Foster Tulip (yellow)

Tulipa 'Candela' in the Botanical Garden of the University of Vienna.
Anna reg, CC BY-SA 3.0 AT, via Wikimedia Commons

Candela looks wonderful when planted in a large grouping. It is a pure yellow, 14″ high delight. Looks great with white daffodils, too. These also naturalize well. Candela received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Mid spring
  • HEIGHT 12-18″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained
  • Received AGM Award from the Royal Horticultural Society

Orange Emperor Tulips (carrot orange)

Among spring’s first flowers, Orange Emperor Tulips are truly royal classics and a special favorite in Holland! Huge blooms have glowing orange petals with a pale yellow base inside and measure up to 10″ wide when fully opened. Emperors make a bold, dramatic focal point in every spring garden.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Early spring
  • HEIGHT 14-16″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained
  • Received AGM Award from the Royal Horticultural Society

Purchase online

Princips Tulips (red)

Set the spring border ablaze with the large, flaming red blossoms of this early blooming Fosteriana. This standout’s short stature makes it perfect for the edge of the border. Works well in containers, too. Early.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Early Spring
  • HEIGHT 6″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained

Red Emperor (Madam Lefeber) Tulip

Single Red Emperor Madam Lefeber Tulip with Dew Drops
Mustafa Akarsu, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The world-famous Red Emperor tulip was introduced in 1931, and is what we now call a member of the ‘Fosteriana Tulip’ group. In fact, Red Emperor’s official variety name is ‘Madame Lefeber’ in honor of the wife of the original hybridizer, Lefeber.

Triump Tulips

Don Quichotte Tulip (cerise pink)

Don Quichotte single pink tulip
Cbaile19, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fall in love with these enormous, flirtatious pink tulips. Blossoms measure up to 5″ in size and top strong 18–20″ stems. Long-lasting blooms create a dramatic display in a border or mass planting. As cut flowers, they make exquisite bouquets.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Mid spring
  • HEIGHT 18-20″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained
  • Received AGM Award from the Royal Horticultural Society

Purchase online

Kees Nelis Tulip (red with yellow-orange rim)

Kees Nelis tulip shines in the spring garden with blood red petals with broad yellow edge. 

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-7
  • BLOOM TIME Spring
  • HEIGHT 16-18″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained

Lily-Flowered Tulips

What makes lily-flowered tulips different from other varieties are their slender flowers with often pointed, recurving petals. Flower stems are thin and not very sturdy, making these varieties susceptible to wind damage. Planted in a sheltered location, they make great cut flowers and an excellent addition to mixed borders.

Alladin Tulip (scarlet with yellow rim)

Red lily tulip with yellow rim
Luu, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Alladin is a remarkable lily-flowered tulip featuring scarlet goblet-shaped flowers with pointed and slightly reflexed petals presenting fine yellow edges. Blooming in the late spring garden, this tulip provides an elegant and graceful display when swaying in the spring breeze!

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Late spring
  • HEIGHT 18-20″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained

Ballade Tulip (magenta with white rim)

Tulip, Tulipa 'Ballade', Lily-flowered Group‎, pink-white flowers, plants cultivated in Wrocław University Botanical Garden, Wrocław, Poland.
Agnieszka Kwiecień, Nova, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With its graceful elegance and regal coloring, Ballade tulips are sure to inspire poets, musicians and gardeners alike. Uniquely shape with reflexing flowers that resemble a lily, the gorgeous violet-mauve blooms are margined in white and supported on wiry, strong stems.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Late spring
  • HEIGHT 22″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained
  • Received AGM Award from the Royal Horticultural Society

Buy online

Maytime Lily Flowering Tulip (red-violet)

Tulip 'Maytime' cultivated in Wrocław University Botanical Garden, Wrocław, Poland.
Agnieszka Kwiecień, Nova, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rich red-violet flowers with pointed and slightly reflexed petals adorned with snow white edges. Maytime is similar to Ballade variety tulip, but much narrower. Elegant, strong color that is very impressive in beds and bouquets year after year.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Late spring
  • HEIGHT 16-24″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained

Purchase online

Red Shine Lily-Flowered Tulip (ruby red)

Red Shine Tulip cultivated in Wrocław University Botanical Garden, Wrocław, Poland.
Agnieszka Kwiecień, Nova, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Red Shine is a two-time award winner for its long-lasting, radiant red goblet-shaped flowers with pointed petals. Blooming in late spring, Red Shine Tulip is elegant and graceful when swaying in the breeze.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Late spring
  • HEIGHT 22″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained
  • Received AGM Award from the Royal Horticultural Society

White Triumphator Tulip (pure white)

Elegant and impressively tall, White Triumphator is a beautiful, classic tulip that will delight you year after year. Blooming in late spring, it’s long lasting, large, pure white petals sit gracefully atop graceful stems.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Late spring
  • HEIGHT 26-28″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained
  • Received AGM Award from the Royal Horticultural Society

Darwin Hybrid Tulips

Darwin Hybrids have set the standards worldwide for tall graceful, large flowered perennial tulips. The famous Apeldoorn group was introduced in 1951 by D. W. Lefeber and Company. There are not many Darwin Hybrids, even today. But they are every good gardener’s favorites and always highly valued by florists.

Apeldoorn Perennial Tulip (cherry red)

Red tulip shot from above looking inside at black center
Noumenon, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Renowned by garden professionals, this breathtaking beauty is considered one of the best red long-stemmed tulips in American gardens. An excellent perennializer! The signal red hue on its large, 5″ flowers is made all the more dramatic by a touch of black at the base.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Mid spring
  • HEIGHT 24-26″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained

Purchase online

Apeldoorne’s Elite Tulip (red and yellow)

As a Darwin hybrid, Apeldoorn’s Elite is already sure to make a bold statement in the garden. But where this tulip is truly elite is the vibrant, dazzling coloration on its 5″ blooms (juicy cherry red with vivid yellow edging). Use it to add sizzling flair to the cutting garden or plant in masses for a display like no other. Leave these bulbs in the ground for years of gorgeous blooms.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Mid spring
  • HEIGHT 20-24″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained

Purchase online

Holland’s Glorie (deep red)

Red Oxford Darwin Tulip (scarlet red)

Red Oxford Tulips blooming along Tranquility Court Fairfax VA
Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Red Oxford is America’s most popular red Darwin Tulip. Sitting atop tall, sturdy stems, its classic color is emphasized by its perfect tulip shape. Make sure to plant extra of this classic beauty for gorgeous spring bouquets that you can enjoy year after year.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Mid Spring
  • HEIGHT 20-22″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained
  • Received AGM Award from the Royal Horticultural Society

Greigil Tulips

Red Riding Hood Greigil Tulips (red)

The beauty of this award-winning tulip’s blooms is rivaled only by the beauty of its foliage. Striking red-variegated leaves surround plump, ruffled petals of the deepest scarlet. Peer into the egglike cup and you’ll see a black heart! With their unique foliage coloration and petite size, only reaching 10-12″ tall, they look lovely at the front of a bloom-filled border.

  • LIGHT Full-Part Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Mid Spring
  • HEIGHT 10-12″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained
  • Attracts Bees
  • Received AGM Award from the Royal Horticultural Society

Purchase online

Toronto Greigii Tulip (red to orange)

Greigii tulip Orange Toronto
Retired electrician, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Toronto is a multi-flowering red-orange cup-shaped tulip sits on a bronze base on top of beautifully mottled leaves. with 3-5 flowers per bulb. The flowers will open broadly in full sun, bringing vermillion sparkles to your Mid-Spring garden each year!

  • LIGHT Full Sun
  • ZONE 3-8
  • BLOOM TIME Mid Spring
  • HEIGHT 12″
  • SOIL REQUIREMENT Fertile, well drained
  • Received AGM Award from the Royal Horticultural Society

Sources

Wrapping Up

While some tulip varieties look worse and worse each year, slowly puttering out until they don’t bloom at all, there ARE some varieties that are more hardy. In this post we learned about different Foster, Triump, Lily-Flowered and Darwin Hybrid tulip varieties you can try that will continue to bloom in your garden year after year.

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