Q. Will tulips come back every year?
Short answer – it depends! Most of the tulips available today were developed for the flower trade; these perform very poorly after the first year. They are best treated as annuals and should be replanted every year. However, there are a number of species and varieties that will re-flower (at least for 4-5 years) and will naturalize in your garden. When you buy bulbs, read the label to see if it says “suitable for naturalizing” or “good for perennializing”. The following varieties are suggested:
- Species tulips, resembling those that grow in the wild, perennialize better than hybrid varieties. Try Tulipa clusiana ‘Cynthia’ or T. bakeri ‘Lilac wonder’.
- Tulipa fosteriana varieties – e .g .‘Orange Emperor’, ‘’Red Emperor” or ‘Candela’
- T. greigii varieties – e. g. ‘Red Riding Hood’
- Darwin hybrids (usually with a ‘Apeldoorn’ designation), e. g. ‘Apeldoorn’s Elite’ or ‘Golden Apeldoorn’
- Triumph tulips – e. g. ‘Golden Melody’, ‘Merry Widow’ or ‘Silver Dollar’
- Single-flowered tulips such as ‘Come-back’, or ‘Couleur Cardinal’
- ‘Burgundy Lace’ – a fringed tulip
Tulips flower best when grown in a location with abundant spring sunshine. They perform optimally in climates with cold winters--soil temperatures of 45°F or lower for a period of several weeks. The ground should be well drained. Tulips will come back best if they are deadheaded as the flowers start to fade. Each spring, when the leaves appear, they should be fertilized with an organic fertilizer or with a slow-release fertilizer. Another dose of fertilizer in the fall is also helpful.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service