Department of Horticulture New York State Horticulture Study Guide for Youth 4-H Logo


Flowers &
Indoor Plants

Fruits & Nuts



Special Topics



Cornell University

Tulipa gesnerana
(too-lip-ah gez-ner-ay-nah)

Click on thumbnails for larger image.

What about it?

There are over 150 species of this spring-blooming bulbous perennial. Tulips have broad, thick leaves, stems reaching between 8 and 30 inches tall, brightly colored bell-shaped or saucer-shaped flowers. This particular species has several horticultural variants: the egg-shaped Cottage tulip, the square-shaped Darwin tulips, the strongly reflexed Lily-flowered tulips, the ruffled and cut-petaled Parrot tulips, and the double-flowered Peony-flowered tulips. Other species come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors. T. fosterana has brilliant red petals with black and yellow in the middle and T. greigii is orange with a black base. There are early flowering tulips, T. suaveolens, and water-lily tulips, T. kaufmanniana as well. Incidentally, the genus name Tulipa comes from the latinized Arabic word for turban.

What is it used for?

Tulips are commonly used as border and bedding plants. Since they come in a variety of colors and shapes they are considered very showy. They flower in early May and throughout June.

Where does it grow? How do we grow it?

Tulips enjoy a lot of sunshine and should be planted in a garden loam that is well-drained throughout the year. A loam is a type of soil that has equal amounts of clay, silt, and sand. Plant your tulips 6-9 inches apart in groups of 6 or more, no more than 6 inches underground. This should occur in October or November. It's important to remove the faded flowers to prevent a seed capsule from forming. However, allow foliage to fully mature before you remove. Sometimes it is helpful to lift and store the bulbs after they have flowered in the spring and replant them in the fall. Tulips will commonly decline in bloom quality after 3-4 years.

What are its primary problems?

A viral disease called Tulip Fire and botrytis blight can be pesky problems that limit growth in certain vital plant areas. Tulips are also a favored target of browsing deer.

How do we propagate it?

Propagations through offsets.

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Copyright, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University.