Of all bulbs and tubers this is undoubtedly one of the best known. In the Netherlands its culture began as early as 1593; since then innumerable hybrids have been developed by crossing various species.
Tulips are often grown in beds. They are rarely suitable for naturalisation, since conditions in the garden are never perfect; after a year or two flowering will deteriorate and eventually the bulbs will cease to flower altogether. For that reason gardeners often buy new bulbs every year, but here another problem arises – the disease called tulip fire in which it appears a fungus attacks the bulbs. Sterilising the soil with chemical before planting the bulbs may help. Tulips are also suitable for use in window-boxes, especially the lower-growing strains with a firm habit. In this case both bulbs and soil are of course dis-carded every year. In additionof tulips may be planted here and there in the garden, preferably using the more natural looking forms, for instance cottage tulips in soft hues.
Tulips will do best in calciferous, porous, sandy soil, enriched with rotted manure. The bulbs are planted in mid autumn to a depth of about 7-10 cm; they are quite hardy and require little if any protection.
When thehave withered the bulbs are lifted and the offsets removed. These are kept dry until it is time to plant them and they are then kept for a few years in a separate bed in a favourable . Crossbred tulips now available may be divided into fourteen groups, briefly described below:
Single early tulips
Singleon 15-30 cm stalks; out of doors they flower in mid spring. The early Christmas tulip ‘Due van Tol’, formerly classified separately, belongs to this group.
Double early tulips
Large, double, peony-like flowers, up to 10 cm across, on 20-30 cm stalks. Flowering season mid spring.
A cross between ‘Due van Tol’ and Darwin tulips. They resemble the latter, but flower earlier in the year, in later spring. Round flowers on 30-45 cm long stalks, which are not very strong.
The result of crossing a number of early tulips with
Darwin hybrids. The petals are matt and in many cases have a contrasting margin; very strong stalks, 30-45 cm long. Flowering season mid spring. Darwin hybrids
The results of crossing Darwin tulips with Tulipa fosteriana; very large flowers, the stalks are 60-70 cm long. Flowering season mid to late spring. Darwin tulips
Hybrids developed in Belgium. Very glossy flowers with a square base, the stalks 60-80 cm long. Flowering season late spring. Lily-flowered tulips
The petals are pointed and reflexed; stalks about 50 cm. Flowering season late spring. Cottage tulips
Sometimes called single late tulips, these originate in the gardens of ancient French and English country estates. Height to 90 cm, flowering season mid to late spring. Rembrandt tulips
Darwin tulips with a virus disease causing the white marking. Height 60-70 cm, flowering season late spring. Parrot tulips
Twisted and fringed petals, usually in two colours. Height 60-80 cm; flowering season late spring. Double late tulips
Also called peony-flowered tulips. Very large double flowers on fragile; height 40-60 cm. The latest flowering group, namely last two weeks of spring. Kaufmanniana hybrids
The results of crossing Tulipa kaufmanniana with other forms. Compact plants with broad leaves, elongated flowers, usually bicoloured; height 20-30 cm. Flowers early in mid spring. Fosterana hybrids
Their most important progenitor is Tulipa fosterana. The flowers are usually red, sometimes yellow; height 30-45 cm. Flowers early in mid spring. Greigu hybrids
The results of crossing Tulipa greigii with others. Broad, streaked leaves, compact growth, height 20-30 cm. Flowering season early in mid spring.
Various botanical tulips
This heading embraces all those tulips which have not been tampered with; they are fairly rare. Tulipa acuminata, Tulipa praestans, Tulipa tarda and Tulipa turkestamca are a few examples.