Tulip Varieties: Late Flowering Tulips Tulip Varieties: Late Flowering Tulips

Tulipa is a genus that includes over 100 different species of plants with more than 4,000 varieties. Although they are associated with the Dutch, they are not native to Holland. They are originally native to southern Europe and Asia. They were introduced to China and Mongolia by the Turkish Empire and eventually made their way to the Netherlands several hundreds years ago.

Over the years, there have been different ways of classifying tulips. As species were crossbred, divisions had to created or merged. Most recently, the Royal General Bulb Growers Association of the Netherlands adopted a classification system with fifteen different divisions. Tulips were then assigned a division based on several factors including their time of bloom and parentage.

Because of this, the divisions can generally be categorized as early flowering, mid-season flowering, or late flowering. Tulips that usually bloom in May are considered late flowering tulips. Six divisions are usually considered late flowering tulips: single late, double late or peony-flowered, viridiflora, lily-flowered, fringed and Rembrandt tulips.

The fifteenth division, species tulips, is the most diverse and has varieties that can be considered early, mid-season, and late flowering tulips. Multiflowering tulips, also called bouquet or bunch flowering tulips, are not a division and will take on the characteristics of the class that they were derived from.

Single Late Tulips (Division 5)

Single late tulips include Darwin, cottage, breeder, and Scheeper hybrid tulips. These used to be divided into separate divisions, but they became so interbred that they were merged into one. They are also known as Mayflowering (or May flowering) tulips. Along with Darwin hybrid tulips, single late tulips are some of the tallest tulips growing between 18 to 30 inches tall. Single late tulips bloom in May after all other varieties of tulips.

Single late tulips include some of the most popular varieties of tulips, partially because their long stems make excellent cut flowers. Their large oval-shaped flowers are available in a wide range of colors including white, pink, peach, yellow, orange, red, purple, and black. They are hardiest in USDA Zones 3 through 7. Some common varieties of single late tulips are Avignon, Big Smile, Bleu Aimable, Blushing Beauty, Dordogne, Dreamland, Hemisphere, Kingsblood, Maureen, Mrs. John T. Scheepers, Sorbet, Recreado, Queen of the Night, Pink Diamond, and Union Jack.

Double Late or Peony-flowered (Division 11)

Double late tulips have large flower heads so full of petals that they are also known as peony-flowered tulips and peony tulips because of their resemblance to those flowers. They grow about 16 inches high and bloom in mid to late May. Not only do these tulips bloom late, they are very long lasting and should still be in bloom in the early summer. They are not many varieties of double late tulips, but they do have a nice range of colors including white, pink, peach, yellow, red, mauve, purple, and black.

Because they have large heavy blooms, these flowers are easily damaged by rain and strong winds. They often need to be staked and should be planted in protected areas. However, they are ideal for planting in pots and are excellent for mass planting, rock gardens, and borders. They are not usually suitable for indoor forcing and are hardiest in USDA Zones 3 through 7. Some common varieties of double late tulips are Angelique, Blue Diamond, Freeman, Carnaval de Nice, Crème Upstar, Lilac Perfection, Maywonder, Miranda, Monsella, Mount Tacoma, Orange Princess, Renown Unique, Uncle Tom, Upstar, Wirosa, Yellow Mountain, and Yellow Tacoma.

Viridiflora (Division 8)

Viridiflora tulips are characterized by their green-streaked flowers. In fact, the name viridiflora is derived from the Latin words 'viridis' meaning green and 'flos' meaning flower. Their flowering time differs because they are mutations of other tulips. However, most are late spring flowers because they were derived from single late tulips. Viridiflora tulips are known for an exceptionally long flowering time and average in height between 16 to 24 inches tall. They are available in shades of white, pink, yellow, orange, red, and mauve with a green stripe that extends on the petal from the base.

Although most Veridiflora are cup-shaped with a long-stem, other shapes are available depending on which class they mutated from. They are hardiest in USDA Zones 3 through 7. Some common species of viridiflora are Artist, China Town, Doll's Minuet, Greenland or Groenland, Golden Artist, Green Wave, Hummingbird, Spring Green, Omnyacc, Violet Bird, and Virichic.

Lily-flowered tulips (Division 6)

Lily-flowered tulips have long pointed petals that arch outward and bear a close resemblance to the original Turkish tulips. From above, the open flower looks like a six-pointed star. Although there are not a huge variety of lily-flowered tulips, they are available in plenty of colors including white, pink, peach, yellow, orange, red, and purple. Several varieties have petals that are feathered in contrasting colors. They typically grow about 16 to 24 inches high.

Lily-flowered tulips are good for beds and borders, but are susceptible to wind damage. They should be planted in a sheltered area and are hardiest in USDA Zones 3 through 7. Some common species of lily-flowered tulips are Aladdin, Ballade, Ballerina, Burgundy, Claudia, China Pink, Elegant Lady, Mariette, Marilyn, Maytime, Mona Lisa, West Point, and White Triumphator.

Fringed Tulips (Division 7)

Fringed tulips have petals that look similar to a frayed edge of satin fabric, hence the name "fringed." The fringe can be in the same or in a contrasting color. They are also known as crispa tulips. Colors range from white, pink, peach, yellow, orange, red, and purple and the blooms are quite long lasting.

Because fringed tulips are mutations, their blooming times and heights vary. However, most of these are mutations of single late tulips. Typically, they flower mid to late season and grow between 8 to 30 inches tall. All fringed tulips seem to have extremely long lasting blooms and strong, sturdy stems. Some common varieties of fringed tulips are Black Fringed Parrot, Blue Heron, Burgundy Lace, Cummins, Davenport, Fancy Frills, Fringed Elegance, Hamilton, Huis ten Bosch, and Swan Wings.

Rembrandt (Division 9)

Rembrandt tulips are no longer available commercially, although a few are still displayed in historical collections. Its striped pedals were once highly desired by gardeners until it was discovered that the unique color was caused by a contagious virus. There are several modern varieties that are being sold as "virus-free" Rembrandt tulips, but they are not technically Rembrandt tulips.

Species tulips (Division 15)

The species division is a catch-all class for any type of tulip that does not fit within the other divisions. It includes most wild species plus varieties and hybrids that were cultivated from these species. They are sometimes called "miniature tulips" because of their small size. Usually cultivated species are indicated by a name after the species name. For example, Tulipa bakeri 'Lilac Wonder' is a variant of Tulipa bakeri.

Because species tulips are wildflowers or variants of them, they are usually very hardy, require less work, and are less vulnerable to stormy spring weather. They are also easier to perennialize and prefer to be left in the ground to multiply naturally. They are suitable for rock gardens and small group plantings. Their flowers usually remain closed through the morning or on cloudy days, showing only the outside color of the petals. Spent flowers should be removed so that the energy goes into revitalizing bulbs instead of seeds. The leaves should not be cut back until they begin to yellow. Species tulips are one of the longest-living tulips and will bloom well for several years.

Although there are about 150 different species of wild tulips, only a few are used in gardens. There are two popular varieties of species tulips bloom in the late spring: Tulipa bakeri and Tulipa linifolia.
  • Tulipa bakeri produces large blossoms in shades of purple with a gold-yellow center. It grows approximately 5 to 7 inches tall and prefers USDA Zones 5 through 8. Its most popular cultivated variety is the Lilac Wonder, which is pinkish-purple with a yellow center.

  • Tulipa linifolia, or Bokhara tulip, grows about 6 inches tall with brilliant scarlet flowers with black centers. It has wavy-edged, narrow leaves that have a red border. It is hardiest in USDA Zones 4 through 8.

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