Tulips as we know them are not considered to be a perennial plant. Generally speaking, you have to replant them year after year. You can lift the bulbs each summer, and replant them in the fall, but your results may not be satisfying. You will often find the the bulbs produce fewer flowers in each successive year. This is why most tulip lovers simply buy more bulbs each fall.
There are some tulips, however, which are known for their tendencies to return year after year. Plant your garden with these beauties, and you may never have to plant tulip bulbs again!
Species tulips, or wild tulips, are tulips as they are found in nature. They’ve not been hybridized, and will spread by seed and offsets all on their own. Plant a few bulbs this year and watch your tulip beds fill in and become more beautiful with each passing season. Remember not to deadhead your plants, though. Unlike their hybridized cousins, you want these wild tulips to go to seed.
Another advantage of species tulips is their hardiness. They bloom very early in the season, and can take most anything Mother Nature will throw at them. No need to worry if a warm spell in early March prompts them to start growing. They’ll survive if the weather turns winter-like again.
Botanical tulips are species tulips which have been hybridized, which simply means that they’ve been selectively bred to emphasize certain characteristics, such as color and size, and to eliminate other characteristics. Like species tulips, they will spread by seeds and offsets, and should return year after year.
There are some true hybrids which are known as perennial tulips, such as the Darwin Hybrids and Emperor Tulips. Perennialized isn’t the same as naturalized, though, and they won’t continue to grow forever like the wild tulips will, but they will last for several seasons.
If you want tulips in your yard, but don’t want to have to fuss with them year after year, naturalized plantings are the way to go. Shop for bulbs which are labeled as such, or look for bulbs marked “wild” or “species” and you’ll be on your way to a care-free tulip garden you can enjoy for years.Photo by Per Ola Wiberg