Long live the tulip! This brightly colored jewel of spring grows best in areas with cold winters and dry summers. The bulbs are planted in the autumn before the ground freezes.
Although tulips are a perennial from a botanical perspective, many centuries of hybridizing means that the bulb’s ability to come back year after year has weakened. Therefore, many gardeners treat them as annuals, planting new bulbs every autumn. The North American climate and soil can’t replicate the ancient Anatolian and southern Russian conditions of their birth. Gardeners in our western mountain regions come closest to this climate.
There’s a tulip for every setting, from small “species” tulips in naturalized woodland areas to larger tulips that fit formal garden plantings from beds to borders. The upright flowers may be single or double, and vary in shape from simple cups, bowls, and goblets to more complex forms. Height ranges from 6 inches to 2 feet.
By planting varieties with different bloom times, you can have tulips blooming from early to late spring. Some types are good for forcing into bloom indoors. Most are excellent for cut flowers, too.