10 Tulip Varieties for the Spring Garden

Tulips are one of those flowers that look good enough to eat (surprise, they are!), but most of us grow this reliable spring bulb for its cup-shaped flowers in a myriad of colors, rather than for its culinary value. Learn about 10 outstanding tulip types for your landscape design.

  • 01 of 10

    Darwin Hybrid Tulip

    tulipa 'gudoshnik' (darwin hybrid tulip), yellow & red flower, april
    Frederic Didillon / Getty Images

    Some of the tallest tulips, up to 34 inches in height, belong to this brilliant class of spring bulbs. Plant Darwin hybrid tulips beside your house, fence, or shed to provide shelter from stem-snapping winds. If your climate is blustery in the spring, Darwin hybrids are excellent candidates for forcing.

  • 02 of 10

    Emperor Tulip

    Orange Emperor Tulips in Field with Red Barn
    Garden Photo World/Georgianna Lane / Getty Images

    By the middle of April, Emperor tulips give gardeners hungry for blooms a reliable spring show on sturdy, 14- to 20-inch stalks. The large flowers and bright colors make these spring bulbs, also known as Fosteriana tulips, perfect for floral arrangements. Try ‘Orange Emperor,’ which imparts a sweet fragrance in addition to its vivid petals.

  • 03 of 10

    Fringed Tulip

    Crispa Tulips
    Irina Marwan / Getty Images

    If you took a pair of pinking shears to your tulip petals, you’d get a similar effect to this elegant group of tulips. Not seen as often as the widespread Darwin or Emperor tulips, these flowers belong in the front of the flowerbed, where you can admire their unusual anatomy. The variety ‘Cummins’ stands out in that the deep lavender petals contrast pleasingly with the white fringe.

  • 04 of 10

    Kaufmanniana Tulip

    Tulips (Tulipa, syn. T. kaufmanniana) 'Stresa'
    Mike Hill / Getty Images

    Gardeners in USDA growing zone 3 won’t have any problem cultivating the hardy Kaufmanniana tulip in the landscape. These flowers have a small stature, averaging six inches in height, which make them suitable for areas with high winds where taller tulips are frequently snapped in two after a spring squall. These tulips perennialize nicely in sunny areas where they don’t have to compete with other plants.

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  • 05 of 10

    Multi-Flowering Tulip

    Multi-Flowering Tulip Florette Flowers Duo
    Maria Mosolova / Getty Images

    These prolific bloomers are for gardeners who feel like one flower per dug hole isn’t enough. With four or more flowering stems per bulb, like the Florette, you can harvest an entire bouquet from just three bulbs. Expect the 16- to 20-inch stems to make a blooming appearance in your late spring garden.

  • 06 of 10

    Lily Tulip

    Close-Up Of Yellow Flower Blooming Outdoors
    Maria Urban / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Your late spring garden should be graced by a dozen or more lily-flowering tulips, with their pointed petals on urn-shaped blossoms. The flowers are tall, bold, and long flowering. Enjoy the swirled cream, pink, and green hues of Florosa, or plant the heirloom yellow West Point in combination with blue muscari bulbs.

  • 07 of 10

    Parrot Tulip

    Pale Pink Parrot Tulips (Tulipa) 'Sexy Lady'
    Richard Wareham / Getty Images

    These showy tulips are the flamenco dancers of the garden. Their petals twist, feather, and curl on stems averaging 16 inches in height, giving drama to the late spring garden border. The flowers beg to be added to your vase, but they usually won’t come back in the garden after the second growing season. Plant a combination of Blue Parrot and Texas Gold for a head-turning installation in your mailbox garden.

  • 08 of 10

    Peony Tulip

    Bouquet of pink peony tulips in turquoise vase
    Cora Niele / Getty Images

    Don’t like ants on your peonies? Plant peony tulips instead, and foil the pesky garden intruders. The late-blooming flowers don’t fare well in spring storms, so plant them in a sheltered area to get the most from this long-lasting tulip variety.

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  • 09 of 10

    Species Tulip

    little red riding hood tulip species
    AYImages/Getty Images

    Species tulips are the king of the naturalizers. Where many tulips decrease in vigor and number over the years, you can count on species tulips to form drifts in areas that have good drainage. These Mediterranean and Asian natives tend to be petite, and sport flowers that open wide on sunny days and close up on cloudy days. When opened, many of the blossoms feature a contrasting color star on the petals. As a bonus to those that don’t know what to do with tulips after they bloom, many species tulips like Red Riding Hood have attractive mottling or stripes on their foliage.

  • 10 of 10


    colorful tulips
    CharlyBLR/Getty Images

    Available in a wide color of pastels, bright tones, and bi-colors, the reliable Triumph tulip is a garden designers delight. Plant them deeply; at least eight inches beneath the soil surface, to encourage several years of performance.