room for tulips? try multi-flowering ones

I DON’T GROW A LOT of tulips, but the ones I do grow—for cutting, one of spring’s great treats—are mostly multi-flowering, or bunching tulips, where each bulb produces a little bouquet of flowers, not just one. See how the single stems divides into three or four blooms, above, in showy ‘Red Bouquet’? If you have room for more tulips this fall (and tulips can be planted late, so there’s time), think about trying these generous souls. They’re a little hard to track down, but worth the hunt. Some help:

As far as I can tell, only the catalogs of Van Engelen and John Scheepers (two related companies, the former selling large quantities and the latter smaller ones) maintain a whole category of these wonderful tulips, which aren’t a class in themselves technically but more a habit of blooming that is found within various official tulip classes. That’s why they’re hard to find–you have to search for “bouquet tulips” or “bunching tulips” or “multi-flowering tulips” (and the variations of that last one like without the hyphen, or with -flowered as the suffix). They range in color:

‘Red Bouquet’ (top photo) has a yellow throat and is simply stunning (I used to see ‘Orange Bouquet’ and ‘White Bouquet’ for sale, too, but don’t lately). ‘Florette’ is a daring bicolor of yellow with red edges. ‘Antoinette’ opens yellow, developing pink edges and fading to salmon. ‘Happy Family’ is purplish-pink Triumph type. Want the multi-flowering habit on a smaller-stature plant? Look at the variety called praestans ‘Unicum’ (a sport of the better-known praestans ‘Fusilier,’ maybe 10-12 inches tall–and this one has startling variegated foliage). Not as good for arranging as the taller types, but showy in the garden.

I’ll keep looking!

  1. narf7 says:

    I never knew that there was such a thing as a bunching tulip! What value for money! As one of the coldest states in Australia, Tasmania is great for growing tulips and we have a massive tulip farm at the top of the state that I am going to have to visit one day. Are tulips as poisonous as Daffies? If not, I hesitate to plant them on Serendipity Farm because everything that lives here needs to be tough and unpalatable to resist the multiple pests that want to eat it.

  2. Eileen says:

    I don’t grow a lot of tulips either because they are such a treat for the critters, lots of work putting chicken wire down and a repellant. But, I do love seeing them every year and I just think of them as annuals.


  3. Honor says:

    If you like tulips for a cutting garden, try the peony flowering tulips from Scheepers or Van Engelen. I planted Charming Beauty (think that was the name!) two years ago and they were so lush and so much like peonies the I bought the peony-flowering mix from them last year. Did have to protect them from the deer-a repellant spray worked well. The mixed color bulbs had smaller flowers, but they are fairly late blooming and last spring was early and dry (I didn’t plant them in easy reach of a water source, unfortunately). I think with a normal winter/spring they’d have been more spectacular. A few stems of the Charming Beauty bulbs made quite a nice bouquet.
    I also have some bouquet flowering tulips I planted four years ago that have come back strong every year. For best results on most bigger tulips I’ve usually planted new bulbs each year in among the previous years’ bulbs. I don’t always get a great bloom the second year. I’m thinking perhaps they’d work better if I lifted the bulbs for the summer and replanted in the fall. That’s my current experiment–if I get them replanted before the ground freezes! So much to do, so little time.

  4. Lovely photo. I also did not know about bunching tulips and will look out for them. Presently, I only grow species tulips since they will come back year after year, and they are also very attractive.

  5. Chris says:

    My fav catalog for interesting tulips, and lots of other bulbs, is McClure & Zimmerman. Holland Bouquet is a great multi-stem for it’s bright yellow color. Would also recommend their assortment of alliums. (BTW — I’m just a customer, no tie to the company)

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