Enjoy the Color Longer: Tips for Extending Tulip Season

The Gardenist

Tulip season is upon us, and depending on where you are, it generally lasts about two weeks. Usually it starts sometime in mid to late April and ends in early May. If you ask me, the season for these brightly colored harbingers of spring is entirely too short. But it doesn't need to be. Here's how to extend the color riot. 

Tulips that you buy in the store are timed to bloom at a very specific (retail-friendly) time of year.  If you purchase potted tulips, they will give you a display for maybe two weeks and then it will be all over.  If however, you go with inground bulbs (planted in the fall), you can extend your tulip season to at least a month for the same money, since bulbs that you grow yourself are much cheaper and come in a much wider variety than those already potted up and forced.  

The real key to extending the season is paying attention to bloom time. There are early bloomers, mid season bloomers and late bloomers. They will all overlap each other, but if you time it correctly, you will have a succession that can go as long as a month or more. 

I like to organize my succession of bulbs by color theme, so I pulled together 3 series of early bloomers, mid and late season bloomers.  They will overlap each other as they come and fade, but you will have some nice combinations as spring rolls through. 

Pretty Pinks:
Top Row: Early Season Tulipa 'Toronto', Early- Mid Season Tulipa 'Apricot Emperor'
Bottom Row: Mid- Late Season -Tulipa 'Annelinde' and  Tulipa 'Black Hero'

Orange Obsession
Top row : Early Season - Tulipa 'Orange Emperor', Early- Mid Season - Tulipa Princess 'Irene' 
Bottom Row: Mid Season Tulipa 'Orange Princess', Late Season Tulipa 'Double Focus' 

Deep Red & Pure White Drama
Top Row: Early Tulipa 'Purissima', Early-Mid Season : Tulipa 'Couleur Cardinal'
Bottom Row: Mid Season Tulipa 'Jan Reus' , Late Season Tulipa 'Uncle Tom'

(Images: Brent and Becky's Bulbs (where all varieties can also be purchased))