Tulips are members of the Lily (Liliaceae) family. They have a very diverse range of colours, sizes shapes and forms. Tulips have an incredible impact when they are grown in mass plantings in a garden bed but are also great in pots, as companion plants, or mixed in different colours or flowers in a grassy meadow.

Field of Colorful Tulip Flowers in Bloom with Sun Flares and Bokeh

Tulips have at least 75 different species divided into 15 different groups. These vary in flower size, structure, form and habit.  In all there are over 6000 cultivars. The original wild varieties of tulip, come from the Altai mountain range where China, Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan meet. Wild tulips can be found in a band stretching in a band from Altai to southern Europe through Turkey. The climate in these mountains consist of freezing Cold winters and hot dry summers. These are also the conditions that most modern tulips thrive under. As a period of cold temperatures is required for flowering, in some parts of Australia you will need to cool the bulbs in your fridge crisper for a few weeks.

Tulips are also available with 2 colours on the same flower. This red and yellow looks great on the one flower.
Tulips are also available with 2 colours on the same flower. This red and yellow looks great on the one flower.

Tulip history and Tulip mania.

The name tulip comes from the Turkish word tülbent meaning turban. This is probably due to the shape of the flowers resembling a turban. These days, tulips are closely associated with the Netherlands due to a historical co-incidence. The ambassador of the 16th century Habsburg monarchy was given some tulip bulbs to take take to Vienna by the Turkish Sultan. The ambassador then passed some bulbs on to his friend, Flemish botanist Charles de l’Ecluse who was caring for the emperor’s garden in Vienna. Later de l’Ecluse was given a teaching appointment in Leiden in Holland. As the director of the local botanical gardens, his experiments with tulip bulbs soon caught the attention of the wealthy residents of Leiden. Tulips soon became a much sought-after import to the Netherlands. The tulip mania that followed led to tulip bulbs reaching the same price as an Amsterdam canal house. Today’s tulip mania takes a much different form. It consists of people make long pilgrimages to places like Keukenhof in the Netherlands, or Tessalaar’s in the Dandenongs outside Melbourne to take thousands of selfies and photos of the spectacular seas of colour of the tulips. More recently, some interesting hybrid varieties have been created using some of the original wild varieties from southern Asia.

Garden Landscaping Ideas with Tulips

 

Tulips can be planted in mass plantings in a garden bed with each colour in its own row or graded in a continual blend from pale yellow, brilliant yellow to orange to red.

Tulips in an ornamental flower bed in Keukenhof Garden, Netherlands
Landscape Design Idea. Tulips in an ornamental flower bed in Keukenhof Garden, Netherlands. The colours alternate in rows pink, yellow and red. Note how the slightly raised yellow near the centre adds to the depth perception this garden. This design concept can be used to make a small garden appear larger than it really is.

On top tip for growing tulips in large beds like this is to leave gaps between the bulbs so that extra bulbs can be added a few weeks later. This will give your garden a longer period in bloom.

Landscaping idea. Tulips planted as a colour gradient from yellow to red with a few pink ones hidden amongst the crowd.
Landscaping idea. Tulips planted as a colour gradient from yellow to red with a few pink ones hidden amongst the crowd.
Planted in clusters on the edge of a garden bed by the lawn. Starting with deep red at one end and graduating to a lighter red, then orange and finally yellow. This effect can also make a small garden appear larger. Note also the contrasting foliage.
Tulips grouped into small clusters near garden paving.

 

Tulips are brilliant to mix with other plants which flower around the same time. Try planting them with daffodils or plant them with blue plants like Blue Mascari, or combine with other emerging annuals. The results will be spectacular.

 

Tulips along the edge of a garden path.
Garden idea. Plant near a topiary or standard plant like a Buxus Sempervirens or Murraya. This will give your tulip added contrast.
Mass plantings of tulips in a large tub or pot can create a stunning effect. Plant the bulbs in two different layers at different depths to create this effect.
Mass plantings of tulips in a large tub or pot can create a stunning effect. Plant the bulbs in two different layers at different depths to create this effect.
Plant tulip bulbs in groups of terracotta pots.
Design Idea. Red and yellow flowers in the foreground with lighter creams in the background makes a small garden appear larger.
Landscaping idea. Dark red tulip flowers go well with the yellow daffodils an the earthy brown stone behind.
Garden design idea. Grow two different varieties together in terracotta pots. One tall variety in the centre and a shorter one on the outside. For added effect try a blue trailing flower on the edge of the pots.
Two different tulip varieties in a concrete pot.
Two varieties of tulips in a single concrete pot close up. This red and white tulip looks spectacular in pots.
Garden design idea. Try combining dark red and yellow tulips in the same garden bed.
Garden design idea. Tulips in garden beds with yellow and red flowers.

 

Landscape garden idea. Two different shades of pink planted with white tulips.
The pinks and whites look great together.

 

Garden design idea. Cluster together with white daffodils.

 

Landscaping design idea. Plant in raised garden beds with contrasting foliage like grasses.

 

Garden Design Idea. Plant with blue companion plants.
Mixed Plantings with Tulips
Garden Planning. Plant taller lighter coloured plants towards the back and shorter plants near the edge.

Meadow planting with tulips and daffodils.

Plant in the grass under trees in a meadow with a variety of colours and flower forms. This will attract pollenating insects like bees and butterflies to your garden. This will in turn attract bird life. Plant you meadow with a variety of bulbs like daffodils, to lengthen the time in flower and feed the bees for a longer period of time.

Landscaping idea. Growing tulips in a grassy meadow under trees. The bees and other insects in your garden will love it. The red and green looks great together.
Landscaping idea. Growing tulips in a grassy meadow under trees. The bees and other insects in your garden will love it. The red and green looks great together.

Garden Maintenance. Planting and Care of your Tulip Bulbs.

Growing tulips in Australia

 

Plant in late Autumn or late April to Early May. In warmer parts of Australia they may need to be in the fridge crisper for a few weeks prior to planting.  An old egg carton is ideal for this. If the ground is still heating up from the sunlight, plant your bulbs a little deeper in the soil to protect them from the heat. Bulbs can be ordered from Tesselaar’s that are pre chilled ready to plant.

Heavy clay soils, dig in some organic matter with vermiculite, perlite or even some potting mix. Plant around 20mm deep in pots, or around 80mm – 150mm deep in the garden. Alway check the planting depth with your supplier. The rule of thumb is the planting depth should be around 2.5 times the bulb width. Tesselaars recommend planting the bulbs 3 times the bulb height in Australia. Plant in full sun. Lightly fertilize the plants just as the flowers are starting to emerge. Tulips are reasonably low maintenance if you by healthy bulbs from a reputable supplier and plant in well drained soil.  If you plant the bulbs deeply enough it is easy to cultivate around the plants with a Dutch hoe until they get fully established.

Good drainage and a  period of cold weather is essential for your tulips. Don’t let them go to seed unless you are planning on a wild meadow. Remove the flowers, but make sure you keep the leaves, so that all of the goodness can be taken back into the bulb for next year. For best results, remove the bulbs from the soil and store them in a cool dry place. Use a hessian bag for storage rather than a plastic bag.

Tulip varieties and cultivars

The varieties available and the best performing varieties, will depend on where you are planting your tulips. Always check with your local plant supplier. The flowers listed below we give you some idea of the various flower shapes, but these varieties will not necessarily be available in all areas.

Affaire

 

Blue Diamond

 

Bulldog a fringed tulip that grows to 50cm.

 

Chelsea Blue Parrot

 

Dream Land. Another white and red tulip.

 

Estella Rijnveld. A white and red tulip with fringes.

 

Mariette

 

Queen of the Night

 

Sauternes

 

White Rebel
White Dream grows to 50 cm.
White and Red Tulip. Carnaval de Nice Grows to 50 cm.
Purple Prince early single grows to 40cm.
Flaming Baltic a fringed tulip that grows to 50 cm.
Fringed. Grows to 50 cm

 

Wedding Gift
Happy Generation. Mid season flowering grows to 50 cm.

 

Christmas Orange. An early single variety. Grows to 40cm.

 

Caribbean Parrot large fringed and ruffled flowers grows to 40cm

 

Renegade. Mid-season flowering red tulip. Grows to 45cm.

 

Uncle Tom Grows to 45 cm.

 

Sunny Prince grows to 40 cm.

 

Apricot Parrot grows to 50cm.
Foxy Foxtrot an early double tulip. Grows to 40cm.
Strong Gold a Mid-season flowering tulip that grows to 40cm.
Brown Sugar an mid-season flowering tulip that grows to 50cm.
Francoise. This tall mid -season flowering tulip, opens as a creamy yellow flower. As the flower matures, the colour fades to a creamy creamy white. This is an ideal plant to put further back in your garden to increase the perception of depth. A great design trick for a smaller garden.
Helmar is another tall mid-season flowering tulip. Growing to 55cm, this is a good plant to place slightly further back in your garden. The red and yellow petals look great.
Fly away is a tall lily shaped tulip growing to 60cm.
Golden Oxford is a very popular Darwin Hybrid tulip growing to 45cm.

Where can you see tulips?

Many towns and cities have annual tulips festivals in the spring. Every year in the Dandenongs outside Melbourne the Tesselaar Tulip Festival takes place from mid September to mid October. 

 

 

Contact Experienced Landscape Gardeners

 

 

For all of your garden maintenance needs or help with the design  and development or your landscaping ideas, contact one of our experienced Landscape Gardeners.

 

We can help with small garden design all the way up to  Commercial Landscape design.  Our specialities include fast growing screening plants, plant health as well as horticulture, garden lighting  and outdoor pool landscaping ideas.

 

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