Tulip Report for Late April: Meh

It’s been a good year for Crabapples and Daffodils, but less than stellar when it comes to Tulips. Which is disappointing, because I look forward keenly to Tulip season every spring.

Path to our front door around the middle of last week. 


I already told you how ‘Early Harvest’ got mutilated by the ravaging rabbits.


In addition, some of the container tulips got whacked by the weather whiplash (how do you like that alliteration?) we experienced from February into April. The Early Single Tulips were lured into breaking dormancy so early that the pots were still covered by a thick layer of leaves and topped with chicken wire. The new leaves languished without sunshine.


Then , immediately after I uncovered the pots, we got hit by a hard freeze. ‘Keizerskroon’, the earliest of the Early Singles, suffered the most harm. I planted 20 ‘Keizerskroon’ bulbs but got only about six flowers.


On the other hand, the Species Tulips never seem to let the weather bother them. T. praestans, both ‘Fusilier’ and ‘Unicum’ with its variegated foliage, produced their bright red blooms as per usual. The Species Tulips are all planted in the beds and borders. Their smaller bulbs make them easier to mix with perennials.


T. dasystemon is really becoming one of my favorite Species Tulips. It creates slowly growing patches of bright white and yellow flowers with grassy leaves. I’ve come to prefer it to T. turkestanica, which seems too eager to close its flowers in cold and cloudy weather.


Here’s some more T. dasystemon with ‘Flair’ growing in the Parkway Bed.


I think judy’s favorite Species Tulip is T. clusiana. This species actually looks more interesting when the flowers are closed. It’s interior is a deep golden yellow, but without any hint of red.


‘Couleur Cardinal’ is blooming nicely, though about one third of the bulbs planted are still missing in action. They may yet show themselves.


‘Princess Irene’ makes its appearance after ‘Couleur Cardinal’. As of this weekend its flowers were still opening.


Another pot full of ‘Princess Irene’.


In the foreground here are a couple of varieties I’m trying for the first time. The yellow with light dashes of red is ‘Suncatcher’. The raspberry purple one is ‘Pittsburgh’.


Another couple of ‘Pittsburgh’, these a bit further along.

Our house seen from the street this past Saturday.

It’s too early to declare this year’s Tulip season a disappointment. The later-blooming varieties (not to mention tardy members of the early risers) may yet come through with a resounding finale. I’ll do a follow-up report in a week or two.

Has this been a good Tulip year in your garden?

53 Comments on “Tulip Report for Late April: Meh”

  1. Mine are just coming up and hopefully they’ll be blooming in the next week or so. I don’t really know much about tulips and was surprised when I found out that some only bloom for one or two years and that’s it. What should I be looking for if I want tulips that come up reliably, year after year? And I particularly love the T. dasystemon – would that one fit the bill?

  2. I love your tulips they are so colourful and gorgeous, who could choose??
    I always think of tulips as being so exotic and difficult to grow, but I’m just going to get a whole lot more and put them in…enjoy what you have..

  3. Lovely to see your tulips – your house must be a treat for passers-by! Not a good tulip year here either. I had some tulip fire last year and removed quite a few ‘permanent’ residents. The ‘persistant’ tulips that I’ve got planted with my roses – Queen of the Night and China Pink – showed very little tulip staying power for the first time this year! I usually top them up a little every year, but because of the tulip fire didn’t plant any more tulips in that particular area. Good news – the tulip fire is not so evident this year. Enjoy your tulips while you may!!!

  4. I hope all your late ones come out (but it doesn’t look too bad from where I’m sitting!). We’ve had a good tulip year. Most are now going over and some of those I planted last year didn’t reappear but generally they’ve been super.

  5. Your front garden is looking really pretty with all that colour. We had the same weather fluctuations here, but it hardly affected anything except for blossom on the trees which all came out early after a very mild March. Your Princess Irene are much shorter than mine, although their height hasn’t been a problem despite heavy rain, sleet, snow and wind! I shall make a note of that species tulip Dasystemon as it is such a lovely buttery yellow.

  6. I don’t have near as many tuliips planted as you do. The ones I have did ok this year. It got entirely too hot for them I think. They didn’t seem to last as long this year. You do have a nice selection of tulips. I like those species tulips in the beds. They look so cheerful.

  7. I love the intense colors of your tulips and would love to grow some, but in Texas they are primarily used as annuals because we don’t get cold enough. (Ironic since you wrote your cold weather nipped some of your tulips in the bud so to speak.) I did try species tulips when I lived in Austin and they died immediately. Then again, a lot of stuff died back then because of my soil. Even if this year isn’t as successful as you wanted tulip-wise, I hope you’ll continue to plant them since they are so very pretty.

  8. I love those shots of your front yard –lovely landscaping. You plant so many more tulips than I do, that it’s hard for me to see that as disappointing 🙂 I’ve had a particularly good year for tulips –some of which I never planted. When we first moved into this house, 19 years ago, some tulip leaves used to pop up in one of the beds, but never flower. Over those 19 years those bulbs (maybe self-seeded?) have grown into a beautiful collection of tulips scattered in that bed. My biggest disappointment this spring is a patch of tulips that bloomed for the first time last year, and we spectacular. Only one bloom this year 😦

    • Glad you had a good year for tulips. Sounds like you had some young bulb offsets that gradually built up until they bloomed. It’s pretty common for many tulip varieties to bloom for just one year, that’s why they are often treated as annuals.

  9. They certainly don’t look “meh” to me. Species tulips really never disappoint. I haven’t planted any yet and judging by the amount of vole damage I’m seeing, it doesn’t seem like such a great idea.

  10. Your tulips look pretty good to me. I have clumps appearing in odd places in the garden where they weren’t planted by me! Just looking at your front garden makes me anticipate a few months from now when cup plant, tithonia, and Joe pyeweed are towering over everything.

  11. The majority of my tulips are in a circular raiesed bed in my front yard and they did very well until the freeze hit. I have always liked tulips and enjoy looking at videos from the tuliip capitol of the Netherlands. When my son was about thirteen he called them “threelips”. Yours are very pretty.

  12. Your tulips look so pretty to me! I especially like ‘Keizerskroon’–what a stunner! And, of course, ‘Coleur Cardinale’; thanks for motivating me to plant this lovely. My tulips did pretty well this year, although there were some no-shows and the warm weather the last few weeks meant some didn’t last as long. I’ve been taking some notes and might even do a tulip review blog post if I get around to it. Otherwise, I know come September, I’ll forget what I want to plant:)

  13. I don’t have many (enough) tulips. I really need more. T. clusiana and ‘Princess Irene’ are both favorites. I always forget to buy or order them, and then if I do buy, I’m too lazy to plant in the fall. I need this reminder in the fall that the work is worth it. Sorry your show was disappointing this year.

  14. Hello Jason, we don’t do tulips en-masse like you and others do but we did have two small pots. The earlier flowering pot was lovely (though perhaps a bit sparse) but the weather had turned cold for the later flowering pot and it was hit with a late frost.

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