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in praise of multiflowered tulips

multiflowered-tulips-redT HOUGH THEY DON’T TECHNICALLY RATE A CLASSIFICATION of their own, according to the tulip police, I put multiflowered tulips in a class by themselves, anyhow. How can you not love a cutting flower that serves itself up in a pre-made bouquet, with three to seven flowers per stem before you even do anything to arrange it?

I’ve been sitting here with vases of multiflowered (also called bouquet) tulips in the house for more than two weeks now, specifically the variety ‘Red Bouquet,’ and from tightly closed to overblown and about to fall apart (about how I feel at the moment as well, by the way) they are a delight.

bouquet-tulips-redThe reason multiflowered tulips aren’t a formal class, the way Triumph or Double-Late or Greigii or another of the 15 officially recognized tulip classifications is? Because varieties with multiple flowers can occur in any class. The amazing red-hot tulip Tulipa praestans ‘Fusilier,’ for example, which will perennialize and come back for decades if happy unlike many other tulips, is a bouquet-style selection in the 14th classification: Miscellaneous Tulips. Well-named ‘Happy Family’ (a deep rosy-purplish color) is a Triumph Tulip. And so on.

Whatever the class they’re in, their stem divides into several smaller ones partway up, and each slightly thinner tributary holds a flower. How can this not be good news: several (or more) tulips per bulb? Even though each is slightly smaller, I think this is positive, too, as many tulips strike me as just too big (at least for my scale of table, vase and house).

Mark off the spots where you’ll plant your tulips now (you won’t remember where that really good spot was come fall), and order now, too, to take advantage of discounts. Other bulb tips and care information: on the Flower-Bulb FAQ page.

  1. Susan says:

    I have never seen these, how beautiful. I am learning so much from A Way to Garden. I will mark my garden this evening. Place these on my order list.

  2. Tammy says:

    These are beautiful. I didn’t order tulips last year, definitely annuals here. But, I really did miss them, like an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile. These will go into the order as well.

  3. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I also love those Turkish tulips, with the narrow, vase-like blooms. (Are they called Turkish? For some reason I associate them with the Ottoman Empire.) I have a dream of planting them through a grassy meadow.

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Jill-O. Good tulips for cutting, that’s for sure, and they seem to last a long time (years I mean). Thanks for your comment and do stop back soon so I can tempt you with another plant or two or three. :)

      By the way…I realize I should say that those leaves don’t belong to those tulips. Those are from Stylophorum diphyllum, a self-sowing short-lived perennial that romps all over here.

  4. Janice says:

    I found some of these last fall at the nursery (actually the ‘Red Bouquet’!), and am amazed at how long they are lasting in the garden. They also have a bit more variability in the flowers, so they don’t look so “perfect” — one of my beefs with most of the showier tulips.

  5. Brian G. says:

    Stylophorum diphyllum! Margaret, you have solved a riddle for me. I have hundreds of these behind my house and never knew what they were. I have considered it a pretty weed but I see they are actually sold at nurserys. If anyone wants some, don’t bother paying for them. I will gladly donate for free;)

    1. margaret says:

      @Brian G.: Here’s the only worry: S. diphyllum is the pretty native one, buts its Asian counterpart is a less-pretty weed. The native has big flowers (like approaching 2 inches across?) and less fine-textured foliage that is also a little greener, less whitish-green. What do you have?

  6. Brian G. says:

    Hmm, let me think. The ones I have are pretty tall plants (about 18″) and the flowers are small, about an inch across. I used to mistake the small seedlings for the Columbines that pop up everywhere but as it grows the leaves elongate and are very green. I’ll have to examine it this weekend and bring a sample back so I can do some detective work (no computer up state). Do you know the name for the Asian version so I can compare photos?

  7. April says:

    Margaret those are lovely. I never get my tulips cut in time. The wind takes them and blows them across the field and then I have to wait until next spring.

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, April. So nice to see you here. What you say is a good reminder to me: 25 years or more into gardening, I never cut mine in time, either, until now…this very year. The carpe diem mentality is finally sinking in: enjoy it while it lasts, or else…I think it’s because of my encroaching age. Hard to feel compelled to “hurry, cut the tulips” when you are young. You have kids; you have chickens. I have time now to think about the tulips. :)

  8. Faith says:

    Utterly beautiful! I haven’t got any landscaping as yet, much less any bulbs, but I love to drool over Holland Bulbs catalogs and such. The variety just whets the appetite.

    ~Faith

  9. Leslie says:

    With the vole problem that I have, Tulips are a real labor of love. Everybody into your cages!!! My real love are the viridifloras like Greenland.

  10. GartenGrl at Cool Garden Things says:

    Suddenly you understand how tulips were worth more than gold during the dutch golden age…

  11. Chris M. says:

    I love tulips, too, so I have to share the success I had this year putting them in pots. I got busy and could not get to them until January. I labeled the pots so I could check their blooms. I used only two varieties, Coleur Cardinal and Princess Irene. Even the ones planted in February bloomed well: I was happily surprised! I love the orangy Princess Irene; it changes color with age, always satisfying. No photos until I can scan some. I want to encourage others of us who garden with deer to try to have tulips one way or another.

  12. elsa says:

    My Double tulips “Annelinde” are blooming now, they are a late variety, I didn’t realize they were doubles until I saw your posting and I went to check mine, the squirrels and chipmunks didn’t get to them and they are gorgeous, I will definitely puchase more of these type. I have learned so much from your blog, thanks for all the inspiration.

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Elsa. The peony-flowered tulips (so well named!) are really showy, aren’t they?…and ‘Annelinde’ has the extra bonus of variegated foliage. Nice. I am appreciative in return for your encouraging words; don’t be s stranger.

  13. Terryk says:

    Wow those are beautiful! I am sitting reading old posts and as always stumble on something new. I have seen them in the catalogs before but now I think I need to order them next fall.

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