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!