Your Year Around Flower and Garden Guide

Let's Grow Tulips | Selecting Tulip Cultivars | Tulip Divisions | Purchasing & Planting Tulips | Tulip Care

Selecting Tulip Cultivars

Today there are over 100 species of growing tulips and many hundreds of hybrids, primarily due to the extensive breeding programs and tulip care that began in late sixteenth century Holland.

Great tulip flower bulbs are not always easy to find but the ones Brecks has are the number 1

Tulips originated in Central Asia where they grew in the wild. The word tulip means turban and comes from a Turkish word, turbend. Tulips were cultivated in Turkey as early as 1,000 AD.

In August of 1593, Carolus Clusius received a gift of tulip bulbs from his friend, Ogier Ghiselain de Busbecq, the ambassador of Constantinople. He planted the bulbs and the spring of 1594 gave birth to the first tulips of Holland. Clusius's planting is still considered the birth of the Netherlands flower bulb business.

red-tulip-gardenThe colorful flowers soon became major trading commodities. Different color strains and mutations were status symbols and in such high demand in the 1600's that tulips were often sold by estimated weight, even before they were lifted from the ground. Trading in tulip futures was dubbed as "tulpenwindhandel" (tulip wind trade). Soon this speculative trading got out of hand and the Dutch government introduced trade restrictions to quash it.

The most popular tulip color has always been, and remains to be red. However, yellow closely follows red as the second most popular color.

yellow-purple-tulip-garden Of course, you can find tulips in a variety of colors as there are over 3500 tulip cultivars. You can purchase traditional tulip bulbs as well as fancy bulbs, which have a feathered, frilly petal. You can find tulips in solid colors as well as striped petals, or variegated colors.

Tulips come in tall varieties as well as shorter varieties and bloom in single or double blooms. You can purchase tulip bulbs that are early bloomers, maturing early in the springtime, or you can find tulips that will bloom later. So you can plan your bulb flowers to consistently bloom all spring, until other perennials begin blooming and planted annuals fill out your garden, an important consideration in flower garden design.

With so much variety and selection, there is no doubt as to why tulip bulbs are such popular flowers. Coupled with the excellent selection and the ease of care and planting for tulips, they make an excellent addition to any garden.

When selecting bulbs, a simple rule of thumb is that the bigger the bulb, the bigger the flower. Choose plump bulbs that are firm and heavy for their size. Although the tunic (outer papery skin) need not be intact, avoid withered bulbs and those that are withered, overly dry, scarred, have traces of mold, soft spots, or other blemishes. However, more difficult than selecting bulbs is first choosing from the over 100 varieties of tulips which are divided into 15 divisions. Careful selection from different divisions can help you plan a tulip garden that begins in early spring and dances on through the end of May!

Tulip Divisions →