Outdoor Tulips: Tulipa

The tulip enjoys a heavier soil than most bulbs; this in no way means a sticky, badly-drained soil, but one which may be described as a well- drained heavy loam. Some sand or grit and a small quantity of peat or decayed manure will give it the necessary aid to good drainage. Where growing for profit in the open, earliness will be assisted by a lightening of the soil when some peat, sand and cow manure should be worked in. Should the soil be of a sandy nature, peat or leaf mould and some decayed manure will increase the humus and moisture content of the soil.

As tulips do not grow well in soil that has continually been used for tulips, the ground should first be deeply worked, bringing up to the surface the lower soil and it is to this that is added the various humus-forming ingredients. Tulips often being grown in large unheated houses and frames, the beds will require similar attention, but must be given ample water before the bulbs are planted in November. Where it can be obtained, a quantity of wood ash is most beneficial to tulips or a 1 oz per sq. yd. dressing of sulphate of potash will be of equal value.


Tulips are unlike narcissus in that they should be given individual attention as to times of planting and correct depths. Many varieties seem to grow better from early November planting, yet Tnglescombe Yellow’ and ‘Golden Harvest’ both prefer to be planted in early October. Soil depths vary too, ‘William Copeland’ and ‘William Pitt’, both Darwin tulips, are happy in a soil depth of no more than 3 in. (7.5 cm); the cherry-red ‘King George V likes 4 in. (10 cm) of soil over it, and the bulb of larger proportions, Farncombe Sanders, a grand cold-house tulip, likes a 5 in. (12.5 cm) covering, whilst some growers plant it almost 8 in. (20 cm) deep. As a general rule 4 in. (10 cm) seems to suit most varieties, rather deeper in light soil, and shallower in clay soil. In the warmer parts of Britain where Tulip Fire disease occasionally makes its presence felt, the bulbs may be planted as late as early December, for deeper planting will help to keep the trouble at a minimum. Always plant with a wide trowel so that no air pocket is left beneath the bulb. They may be spaced 6 in. (15 cm) apart. When growing for cutting, the beds should be planted 5 ft (1.5 m) wide with a path down either side to allow for ease in cutting.

A 4-1/2 in. (11 cm) size bulb will give a bloom of top size for outdoor planting, though for commercial cutting outdoors a 4 in. (10 cm) bulb is used.

Tulips bruise easily and care should be taken in handling the bulbs. They should be firm and clean, with the skin bright brown in colour. They must not be exposed to the elements at planting-time more than is necessary. After planting, the top soil is raked over to leave a bed with a fine tilth. Planting late in autumn will mean that little attention will be given the beds, possibly nothing more than hoeing between the bulbs in spring when growth begins.

Cloche and cold-frame culture calls for care in planting distances. The bulb may be set only 4 in. (10 cm) apart and in rows of the same distance, a barn-type cloche taking three rows. Late November planting is preferable for cloche work, for the plant should not become too tall too soon. If it is necessary to remove the cloches whilst the weather is cold, the cloches will have lost much of their value for uncovered plants will have almost caught up with those that began under glass.


After lifting, the tiny bulblets which should be examined for any form of disease, are then planted in prepared beds in early September.’ Plenty of sand and peat should be worked into the soil and the bulbs must not be allowed to suffer from lack of moisture. Planted 3 in. (7.5 cm) apart and 3 in. (7.5 cm) deep, they will remain in the nursery beds for two years and should be fed regularly with liquid manure water. The flower buds are removed when they form so that the energy of the plant is conserved for the bulb. They may then be lifted in the normal way and replanted in beds where they are to bloom.


Growing to a height of less than 12 in. (30 cm), this section is especially useful for bedding, though it must be said that as most varieties are suitable for forcing they are more often used for this purpose than for outside flowering. They have little value as cut flowers for the blooms lack substance and are too short in the stem. Amongst the best varieties are:

GOLDEN MASCOT (4 in. 10 cm). Pure golden yellow.

IBIS (3 in. 7.5 cm). Peach pink, shaded carmine.

KEIZERSKROON (4 in. 10 cm). Striking red and yellow striped, slightly taller growing and later flowering.

PRINCE CARNIVAL (4 in. 10 cm). Yellow, flushed red.

PRINCE OF AUSTRIA (3 in. 7.5 cm). Pure orange and possessing a sweet perfume.

VAN DER NEER (3 in. 7.5 cm). Dwarf-growing and bearing a bloom of deep purple.

WHITE HAWK (4 in. 10 cm). Purest white.

These are all bedding varieties and not very suitable for forcing, with the exception of ‘Prince of Austria’, though they may be cool-grown in pots and will bloom from the end of March.

These are perhaps the most valuable of all tulips. They force well and will follow on the earlier flowering varieties of the singles. They may be cool-grown in pots when they will give a colourful display and they may also be used for the cut-flower trade as they grow to a height of about 14 in. (35 cm). Outside they remain long in bloom and are ideal for bedding. In this way, they look most attractive when planted with the April-flowering mossy saxifrages, whose daintiness acts as a contrast to the fullness of the tulip bloom. Or try the early April-flowering double daisies, especially the brilliant scarlet ‘Rob Roy’, the salmon-pink ‘Dresden China’, and the white counterpart, ‘Alba’. The bulbs should be planted about 8 in. (20 cm) apart, slightly further apart than the single varieties. They may also be grown under frames for cutting throughout April and even earlier in favourable districts, and even without a greenhouse a display may be enjoyed almost uninterrupted from the late February flowering of the kaujmanniana species, to the completion of the late flowering Parrot Tulip ‘Fantasy’, which is the last of all the tulips to remain in bloom in northern gardens. Some brilliantly coloured varieties, all of which should be planted 3 in. (7.5 cm) deep are:

BONANZA. Deep carmine-pink, edged yellow. Taller growing than most doubles.

BOULE DE NEIGE. Very dwarf and bearing a large bloom of purest white.

DANTE. A new variety of intense fiery scarlet.

ELECTRA. A glorious shade of dark cherry red.

MR VAN DER HOEFF. Probably the best pure yellow.

MURILLO. White, tinted rose and possessing a sweet perfume.

PEACH BLOSSOM. Rich rose-pink.

TEA ROSE. Soft yellow, flushed pink and salmon. Though an older variety, still one of the best WILHELM KORDES. The colour is intense yellow, flushed orange-red.

WiLLEMSOORD. A variety of recent introduction, a grand bedder, bearing bloom of a rich crimson shade.


Coming into bloom towards the middle of May and flowering on stems 20 in. (50 cm) tall, this is a section that should be more widely used, for the bloom is valuable for cutting, whilst the flowering period will bridge the gap between the early flowering varieties and the later May flowering Darwin and Cottage tulips. They do not force well except the variety ‘Clara Carder’, which is more dwarf-growing and bears a bloom of an attractive shade of Tyrian purple. This is a useful tulip for following on the early flowering doubles under glass. Those recommended for bedding are:

COXA. Scarlet, tipped white and fairly dwarf.

NISSA. Rich yellow, shaded crimson, outstanding for bedding.

SYMPHONEA. Delicate shell pink. The double form of ‘Pride of Haarlem’.


This is a section of more recent introduction with the ability to with-stand adverse weather when they come into bloom, which is during the last days of April. The blooms are brilliantly coloured and borne on strong, thick stems 16 in. (40 cm) tall. They are attractive when planted with the miniature polyanthus, ‘Lady Greer’ which comes into bloom at the same time. The dainty yellow ‘Lady Greer’ looks particularly delightful with the soft mauve ‘Algiba’; and red polyanthuses make a pleasing contrast with the pure white ‘Kansas’. The Triumph tulips are useful for the exposed garden, as a substitute for the taller Darwins; or the Darwins may be planted in a position where they will be partially sheltered from strong May winds, the Triumphs being used for a more open situation.

Of the varieties most suited to bedding other than those mentioned, the following are selected for their sturdy habit:

DENBOLA (3 in. 7.5 cm). Striking combination of deep crimson, edged cream. A new variety of great merit.

HINDENBERG (4 in. 10 cm). Recent introduction, the large blooms being of garnet red, edged yellow.

KORNEFORUS (4 in. 10 cm). A lovely variety of bright cherry red.

PRINCESS BEATRIX (3 in. 7.5 cm). Vivid scarlet, edged orange.

WINTER GOLD (3 in. 7.5 cm). A wonderful shade of deep lemon yellow.

ZIMMERMAN (5 in. 12.5 cm). Shell pink, flushed silver. Possibly the best April tulip for growing in frames or under cloches, but it does not like forcing conditions.


They are a distinct break from the Darwin range from which most are ‘sports’. With their unusual fringed petals and vivid stripings, the Parrots should be more widely grown. The blooms are large and whilst most attractive as cut bloom, they are at their best planted in beds of separate varieties. Or to be more original, try a harlequin display. Flowering longer than any tulips, well into June, the Parrots will provide a display of the utmost brilliance when planted against a background of cupressus trees or to the front of a sheltered border. One or two varieties grow rather tall, the lilac-rose ‘Discovery’ is one, growing to a height of about 30 in. (75 cm) and the large blooms tend to fall over in wind and rain. None is lovelier than the first of the Parrots, ‘Fantasy’, a ‘sport’ from the old favourite ‘Clara Butt’, its salmon pink splashed with green; also the vivid ‘Orange Favourite’, which carries a rich perfume.

Others, which are planted 4 in. (10 cm) deep, are:

BLUE PARROT. Vivid purple with the petal edges particularly broken and fringed.

FIRE BIRD. A vivid scarlet ‘sport’ from ‘Fantasy’.

RED CHAMPION. Rosy red, a variety which forces well.

SUNSHINE. A golden yellow of great beauty only 18 in. (45 cm) tall; is a grand bedding variety.


The result of a cross between the early flowering singles and the Darwins, their flowering period falls between the two. They open their bloom in the open at the end of April, while several varieties may be forced indoors as early as the Early Flowering Singles. ‘Early Queen’ and ‘King of the Reds’ may be taken indoors the first week of December, followed by ‘Orange Wonder’ and ‘Mrs E. H. Krelage’, about the last day of the year, with ‘Mozart’ and ‘Scarlet Admiral’, towards the end of January. Other varieties can be brought on in pots in the home or cold greenhouse and will bloom during March and early April until the outdoor plantings are showing colour late in the month. Some of the best are:

HER GRACE. The brightest possible scarlet.

IMPERATOR. Old rose.

ORANGE WONDER. Rich orange, shading to a lighter edge.

PINK PICTURE. Ivory-white delicately margined with rose pink.

PIQUANTE. A striking new variety of crimson-red with a gold margin.

WHITE SAIL. Rich cream shading off to full white.


For those preferring the more sedate colours, the bronze, coffee, port wine and Burgundy shades, this section will satisfy their tastes. Tallest growing of all tulips, they are best planted in beds against a wall or a wattle fence. They look splendid in small beds against the house and never more charming than when mixed with Darwins of a colour that will tone with each other. For instance, the real brown-coloured ‘Don Pedro’, which also possesses a noticeable fragrance, combines with the rich yellow Darwin tulip, ‘Golden Age’, and both grow to a height of 2 ft (60 cm). Or try the orange and brown shaded ‘Dillenburg’, with the vermilion-coloured Darwin, ‘City of Haarlem’. Other Breeder tulips of unusual colouring are:

CHERBOURG. Rich golden bronze, flushed purple.

J. J. BOWMAN. Crushed tomato red, edged gold.

PANORAMA. Produces a large crimson-red flower on only 18 in. (45 cm) stems and is ideal for an exposed position.

TANTALUS. Dullest yellow, flushed bronze and lilac. The Breeders will not force well, but may be grown in a cold-house frame or under cloches for cutting. Plant 4 in. (10 cm) deep.


A small section flowering during May and June on 2 ft (60 cm) stems. The bloom is striped with contrasting colours. They will bloom well under conditions of fairly gentle forcing and will come into bloom in early March indoors. Arresting is ‘Cordell Hull’ of a rich red colour, feathered and striped white.


This is the largest and most important section covering hundreds of varieties, many being forced in vast quantities to supply the early spring market, others being planted in beds by the million, both for outdoor cutting and display. They will in this way give a succession of bloom from early March until the end of June. Those grown under frames or cloches in favourable districts should be covered early in February and will be in bloom from mid-March. The amateur who has no greenhouse and who wishes to enjoy cut bloom in the home, should plant them against a wall or hurdle fence in a position of full sun. Then late in February rear a frame or Dutch light over the bulbs as soon as showing above the soil. Draught can be excluded from the ends by draping a sack and holding it into position by a large stone which will prevent it from flapping about. By this simple method, bloom will be ready for cutting from mid-April and lights can then be used for hardening-off plants from early May. Some of the loveliest tulips in this section with planting depths and correct month are:

ALLARD PIERSON (4 in. 10 cm Oct.). Rich crimson-maroon.

ARISTOCRAT (3 in. 7.5 cm Oct.). A lovely new Darwin of deep rose pink, silver at the edges.

CITY OF HAARLEM (3 in. 7.5 cm Nov.). Vivid vermilion with an attractive black base.

CLARA BUTT (4 in. 10 cm Nov.). Salmon rose and grown by the million for cold-frame culture, outdoor cutting and for bedding.

DEMETER (3 in. 7.5 cm Nov.). New, of a rich violet shade.

GOLDEN AGE (4 in. 10 cm Nov.). A superb yellow, the blooms carried on sturdy stems. Ideal for cloche work.

KING GEORGE V (4in. 10 cm Nov.). Large, tall-growing, cherry red, the best of its colour.

MRS GRULLEMANS (3 in. 7.5 cm Oct.). Rich creamy white, the bloom being of beautiful form.

NIPHETOS (3 in. 7.5 cm Nov.). A superb variety, the bloom being the colour of Jersey cream, flushed deeper yellow.

SULTAN (3 in. 7.5 cm Oct.). Of darkest maroon, almost black. Most attractive when planted with a white or cream variety.

VICTOIRE D’OLIVIERA (4 in. 10 cm Nov.). Magnificent deep crimson.

WILLIAM COPELAND (3 in. 7.5 cm Nov.). Pure lavender, the earliest forcing Darwin.

YELLOW GIANT (4 in. 10 cm Nov.). Bright buttercup yellow.


Also known as single late or May-flowering tulips. They are similar to the Darwins in every way and a number of varieties will readily force. Several varieties have an oblong-shaped bloom, others with almost pointed petals, while a few are more lily-flowered. Art shades, especially yellows, predominate and look delightful when two or three varieties are planted around a raised bed, those with a dwarf habit growing to the centre. A delightful display is to be obtained from a circular bed of Cottage tulips in which half a dozen varieties are used. In the centre is the late-flowering ‘Caledonia’, which bears a vivid scarlet flower on 18 in. (45 cm) stems. Next is ‘Orange King’, and then the attractively coloured ‘Princess Margaret’, with its rich yellow blooms, edged and shaded orange. Then the pale yellow ‘Mother’s Day’; the orange red ‘Dido’; finally the deep buttercup ‘Yellow Emperor’. For a yellow tulip to plant with the scarlet or violet-coloured Darwins, a large selection will be found in tins section, ranging from the creamy yellow ‘Ellen Willmott’ to the deep golden yellow of ‘Mrs Moon’. Others with their correct planting depths are:

ARGO (3 in. 7.5 cm Nov.). Golden yellow, splashed red.

BELLE JAUNE (4 in. 10 cm Oct.). Clear primrose, with a long bloom.

GOLDEN HARVEST (3 in. 7.5 cm Oct.). Lemon-yellow, the bloom being of largest proportions.

INGLESCOMBE YELLOW (4 in. 10 cm Oct.). The latest yellow.

MRS JOHN T. SCIIEEPERS (4 in. 10 cm Nov.). Bright golden yellow.

VLAMMENSPEL (3 in. 7.5 cm Oct.). Rich yellow, shaded red.

28. June 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Annuals, Bulbous Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Outdoor Tulips: Tulipa


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