Tulips, ah sweet, sweet tulips. Such a welcomed sight in the spring. What?! No tulips? You say you planted tulips and while they bloomed lovely one year, they have now disappeared?
Rest assured, you are not alone. Tulips seem to disappear each year. It is SO frustrating for a gardener.
One summer, when the Jimster was in the local public library children's program, we made weekly trips to the library. My big thing was to read plant books. I especially like books dedicated to one type of plant, like bulbs. There are TONS of bulb books in my library, but not so many dedicated to just tulips. I researched and researched. I just knew I could learn what type of tulip bulbs to plant to hopefully have them not only return each year, but to spread themselves around and perennialize.
All the books I read said Darwin hybrid tulips perennialize well. Maybe the authors' ideas of perennializing and mine were not the same. I expected all tulips to return and even to make more, they did not. I think the author maybe meant Darwin tulips perennialize better than most tulips. Since most tulips don't come back faithfully, they don't perennialize. I guess that means Darwin tulips return occasionally?
Optimistically I planted about 500 Darwin tulip bulbs that year (2005). I like bright colors, so I chose Apledoorn in red and yellows, and also some white ones. I just knew, based on my research, that the bulbs would all return. Nope. What a disappointment.
Last year (after two wasted years on the Darwin hybrid tulips), I decided to go another route. I deduced that species tulips would be the best for returning each year. After all, they are not hybridized and some have been around for hundreds of years. I duly researched all the bulb catalogs and chose the oldest type species tulip in the color I liked, red of course.
I purchased 250 of these tulips at a bargain price. They are planted in massed formations all around my backyard. The species tulips are featured in the second, third and fourth pictures.
The first thing you will notice is the foliage is very different from hybrid tulips. The foliage of the species tulip is very narrow and much shorter. This is actually a bonus since the large Darwin tulips have foliage that tends to get rather overblown, tattered and messy quite quickly. Not to mention the fact the tulips themselves are prone to being blown over.
The species tulips are short yet colorful. They are sturdy and eye catching, but not in as big a way as the hybrid tulips. Time will tell if they return faithfully each year in a better manner than the hybrids. The picture with the pinkish red and yellow tulips surprised me. The pink tulips in all of the pictures are 'Pink Impression'. They were a sale purchase at rock bottom prices in January. The yellow tulips are a Darwin hybrid I planted in 2006. I am surprised they returned as full and lush as the newly planted Pink Impression tulips. Maybe they will stay around for a while this time and I hit a good perennializing tulip hybrid.
in the garden....