Tulip season has passed its peak around here, a peak that came early for some reason during this cold, dry spring. While several of my favorite Species Tulips have already come and gone, there are several still gracing us with their cheerful presence.

Tulipa humilis ‘Little Princess’

I can’t resist an orange Tulip, so when I saw Tulipa humilis ‘Little Princess’ I had to get some. Tulipa humilis varieties grow only about 6″ tall so it is important not to overwhelm them with taller companions.

T. ‘Little Princess’

The origins of T. humilis are on the high mountain slopes of the Caucasus, Turkey, Iran, and Lebanon.

T. ‘Little Beauty’

‘Little Beauty’ is another Tulipa humilis variety with an interior of blue, white, and magenta. This species needs to be viewed from above to appreciate the colorful centers.

Tulipa clusiana 'Cynthia'
Tulipa clusiana var. Chrysantha ‘Tubergen’s Gem’

Tulipa clusiana varieties have a very different look depending on whether they are open or closed. ‘Tubergen’s Gem’ is bright yellow when open …

T. ‘Tubergen’s Gem’

… but a soft red with yellow edges when closed.

Tulipa clusiana ‘Lady Jane’

Similarly, ‘Lady Jane’ is creamy white when open with a bit of pink at the tips. It is cream and rose-colored when closed. T. clusiana varieties grow about 10″ tall, not quite so petite as T. humilis. This species hails from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the western Himalayas. It has become naturalized as a wildflower in parts of southern Europe.

T. ‘Lady Jane’

I planted a small number of all these Tulip varieties seven or eight years ago. Since then, their numbers have remained fairly steady.

Judy has been pushing for more T. clusiana bulbs; they are among her favorites. Also, I’ve noticed in catalogs another T. humilis variety with a white and blue center – T. humilis alba coerulea oculata. These might find their way into a package heading to my house this fall.

20 Comments on “Little Gems: Later Species Tulips”

  1. I adore these little species tulips and I agree with Judy, the clusiana ones are the prettiest. I have Lady Jane too and everyone who sees it wants to grow it. I have just one clump, but next year I want lots. And after seeing yours, ‘Turbergen’s Gem will be added to the list.

  2. I really like all of these; it’s the size and general shape of them that’s appealing, as well as those wonderful color combinations. Tulip envy’s a terrible thing! I can’t choose one as a favorite, but I think ‘Tubergen’s Gem’ beats out even the white ones.

  3. All so sweet and delightful. I could be sorely tempted by Little Princess. Those pops of orange sure catch the eye. Turbergen’s Gem is one of my species faves. The squirrels move them around the garden so ya never know where they’re going to show up next.

  4. I love species tulips too… Judy has good taste! That yellow one when open is gorgeous. What a beautiful colour. I also have Little Beauty, but didn’t know Little Princess, so will look out for them. Have you grown Tulip Humilus Violacea “Black Base”? It is a bright pink and has a lovely dark purply centre. And Persian Pearl is pretty too. There seem to be new ones available every year!

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