Perennial Tulips, Lasting Beauty In Your Garden

Ilona Erwin

Plant These Varieties

For perennial results

Hoping For Colorful Blooms Year After Year?

Do you love tulips, and plant them, only to have them dwindle in size and sometimes disappear altogether after only a year or two? That is what you can expect from many of the gorgeous Darwin hybrid tulips that are offered each year. They are developed to perfection by Holland growers, and yes, they will give you one spectacular burst of bloom that first spring.


I, and many other gardeners, have found certain types to be reliably perennial in the garden. If you choose from these and give them the proper growing conditions, a long reward of blooming year after year can be expected.

In this article you can find tips on how to keep tulips performing well, the best varieties which will keep coming up, a bit of history, and some which you can easily buy online.

Which ones?

Besides some more reliably perennial Darwin hybrid varieties, other classes of tulips will also put on a spring show year after year. They, too, have colorful blooms, but may not be quite so tall, or might have a somewhat different flower shape.

persistant tulip

Tulips are categorized into classes, and those which have been found to give top performance are listed in that way.

Use these choices to give your tulip plantings a more lasting presence in your garden.

Darwin Class

Tallest of all classes, 30- to 36-inch | egg-shaped blooms | excellent cut flowers

Darwin Hybrids

At the beginning of the twentieth century, a search was on for older, “lost to to the trade”  varieties of tulips that would grow well in the newly popular, cottage-style gardens. These remnants of old fashioned types were bred to produce the “Darwins”. Later those were bred with the Red Emperor tulips to spawn what today is the dominant type bred and sold by Holland growers: Darwin Hybrids.

Golden Parade

Very large size bulbs which produce big egg shaped flowers of golden sunshine yellow. I don’t think anyone would be disappointed in this dependable variety. It is much like the old ‘President Kennedy’, which I had planted in my first garden, along with ‘General Eisenhower’ (a red). These are strong growers and last for several years.

Ivory Floradale reappears, beautifully each year

Ivory Floradale tulips

Ivory Floradale starts out with lemony tones

Ivory Floradale is a Darwin opens a very yellowed ivory and then develops into a beautiful bride’s ivory white. It is very strong growing. Standing out in the spring garden amongst its peers, and reappearing every year. I have grown this in my garden a very long time. If it is difficult to find the named  varieties, there may be collections sold which will give a more lasting display .

The Apeldoorns Are Reliably Perennial

They have beautiful blooms every year

The Apeldoorn family of tulips will all provide many years of great bloom. They come in a number of yellow to red colorations.The advantage of using these is the harmony of height , growing, and shape of the tulips for a more uniform bed of bloom.

There are ‘Beauty of Apeldoorn’, ‘Apeldoorn Elite’, ‘Golden Apeldoorn’.

The Emperors, T. Fosteriana

Very early bloom | Large flowers

All the Emperors are very large flowered and early blooming. The red ones may be the best known, and they are quite striking and just as hardy and perennial, but their color may be a bit strident for some landscape uses. On the other hand, white in the springtime is both a clear standout and quite amenable to mixing well within many color schemes.  The white stands out in the garden and looks fresh and lovely. Mixes well with other flower colors (especially the blues of minor bulbs that blossom at the same time.)   Because of their very early flowering, be sure to check on the coinciding bloomtime of companion plantings.


Lily-Flowering Class

Late blooming | Elegant look

Look For These Varieties

Ballade – purple with white edge   White Triumphator – pure white, larger flower Red Shine – carmine red Aladdin – red with gold trim West Point – golden yellow


Specie Tulips

Mostly Small Flowers | Closest to Wildflowers

Most of the specie tulips, being closer to the way tulips are found in nature are vigorous growing bulbs that recur each year.

Tulipa clusiana

Tulipa violacea

Tulipa turkestanica


Showy Flowers | Lowgrowing

Toronto – coral

Calypso – red/orange and light yellow edges

Red Riding Hood -red

Most of the Greigii tulips are reliably perennial


Medium size | Very colorful

Negrita – a very dark purple

Merry Widow – Cherry red with white trim

Kees Nelis -vibrant red with gold

Dramatic white edged Cherry petals.

Dramatic white edged Cherry petals.

Queen of Night, Single Late

Queen of Night icon

Blushing Lady, Single Late

Single late icon

Queen of Bartigons, Single Late

Queen of the Bartigons

Queen of the Bartigons

‘Bronze Charm’, Specie Tulip

Native Origins

Tulips originated in regions of the steppes of Eastern Turkey and the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. The conditions of their natural habitat consist of cold winters and hot, dry summers. Why, then, do they grow so well in Holland? The soil is sandy, and Holland growers have an intricate system of temperature and moisture control that they subject tulips bulbs to on a wide scale. [1] For most of us, that means we must plant them each year for a good show. The same way annuals are planted -new every year.

Single Late Class

Late blooming | Large flowers | Top performers

Single Lates are a class which bloom after the others. Class 5 was created from combining Darwin, Cottage, old Breeder, and Scheeper Hybrid Tulips, they are also known as “Mayflowering tulips”. A very old variety known as Dillenburg, an orange-red, is one of this class and will perform well for a long time in the garden, provided you can find a source for it.

‘Queen of Night’

“Black”is a color that is aspired to by many flower breeders.  This is one of the deepest colors, closest to black in the breeds of tulip. Cultivar created in 1895. This color is best used in tandem with lighter, brighter hues. One of my favorite pairings is ‘Pink Diamond’. ‘Maureen’ in white or ‘Dreaming Maid, another pale pink, mixes well, too.

‘Blushing Lady’

Blushing Lady is leggy in my garden, but very elegant and lasted for many, many years. I highly recommend this one for the subtle color and graceful shape of the bloom. Be sure to purchase a number of ten or more so that you get the full effect. I would underplant with Alyssum citrinum, which repeats the soft lemon yellow infused into the flowers.

Queen Of The Bartigons

‘Queen of the Bartigons’ have persisted in my garden for more than twenty years. It is a lovely salmon pink introduced in 1944. I haven’t seen it offered for a number of years, so it may be hard to find.

Look for other pinks such as ‘Pink Impression’. ‘Daydream’ is a glowing orange which has staying power. It is tall with a large flower, and slowly changes tone as it ages. It is a very pretty addition to the garden.

Tips For Perennializing

  1. Pick tulip types that produce the least number of new bulbs.
  2. Deadhead the blooms to keep strength in the bulb.
  3. Keep the foliage to renew the nutrition store for next year.
  4. Feed the plants while they are actively growing (including the roots underground).
  5. Lift and divide when blooming is reduced and there is too much foliage.

How To Plant Your Tulips

An Heirloom

A standout color choice, orange with a flame of violet, Princess Irene is an heirloom variety that is fragrant as well as long lived


If you don’t mind mixed colors, Brecks quality will give you an outstanding value with great performance.


‘Red Riding Hood’ as mentioned in this post, is a stronger grower that has beautifully striped foliage.

How To Grow Tulips Reminder

The most important tip to follow every year is to allow the foliage to grow until it withers. This includes the fact that cutting leaves and long stems for vases will also remove some of the potential strength from next years flowers.

Propagate your Own

By lifting the bulbs after blooming, and planting offsets, tulips can be propagated.   It may take a number of years for a small offset to grow to blooming size.

Tulip Tips

Why is bulb size so important? They are basically storage units, and the complete plant is within it. The ideal conditions of Hollands growing fields have produced all that is needed for that first year bloom.


Lifting Bulbs

This is one way to keep the bulbs from making offsets, ending up with lots of little nonblooming bulbs. It is an old fashioned technique, and not many gardeners take the time nowadays. If you would like to lift and store your bulbs over the summer, to replant in the fall, this is the method.

  1. Use fork to lift
  2. Shake off soil and remove bulblets
  3. Place bulbs in newspaper lined try or in netted bags
  4. Keep in a cool, dry place until replanting in fall

The Solution For Disappearing Tulips

That is, unless we find the varieties that can produce a perennial show, blooming delightfully year after year. That is no reason not to buy them each year – on the contrary, tulips are one of the joys of spring! Still, what if you could choose varieties that tend to endure for many years in your landscape? You would like that, wouldn’t you? Even if you choose the right varieties, a perennial display of tulips is not possible if mice or chipmunks are at work:


Local rodents (chipmunks and squirrels, especially) love to raid the tulip bulb beds. If that is the source of disappearing blooms, then protection through the use of bulb baskets or using plants that repel pests are methods to try. (Hint: planting other bulbs nearby will discourage these marauders. Daffodils, and Fritillaria imperialis are recommended)

Red Emperor

Spring Display In The Garden


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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.