Plant These Bulbs Now for a Spring Garden Full of Peony Look-Alikes
Imagine a flower with all the elegance of a classic tulip, but enhanced with the fullness of peonies, and you've got peony tulips. Plant these bulbs now for an unforgettable spring show.
Peonies are a favorite in many gardens, and for good reason: Their blooms contain rows and rows of soft, delicate petals, and they're ideal cut flowers for arrangements and wedding bouquets. Perhaps that's why we love peony tulips so much—they also have petal-packed spring flowers that never fail to look stunning in vases or garden beds. But unlike peonies, which are perennials, tulip bulbs usually have to be replanted each fall, so you get the chance to change up the color scheme of your spring garden and experiment with all the different varieties that are available.
Peony tulips (Tulipa x hybrida) are actually a type of double-flowered tulip, which means they have a lot more petals than regular tulips so they are extra showy. They come in shades of red, pink, purple, yellow, orange, and white, and there are even ones that feature a mix of two colors. Some of our favorite varieties are soft pink 'Angelique' (like the ones in the vase above), creamy white 'Tacoma', and pale yellow 'Verona' (12 Tulip 'Verona' Bulbs, $13.21, White Flower Farm). You can also find varieties with fringed edges, like ‘Queensland’ and ‘Cool Crystal’ (shown below on far right). Growing 14-22 inches tall, depending on variety, each flower can reach up to 4 inches across and may last up to two weeks in the garden—usually, their blooms will stick around a little longer than your regular tulips. Most are fragrant, too. But whichever varieties you choose, peony tulips always put on an impressive show.
To grow them in your garden, plant the bulbs in the fall in Zones 3-7. Choose a spot with well-drained soil that gets at least 6 hours of direct sun a day. Bury the bulbs two or three times as deep as the bulb is high. Add a layer of mulch on top of the soil to protect them from temperature extremes. You may also want to add some wire mesh under the mulch to protect your newly planted tulips from squirrels and other garden critters that like to eat the bulbs. In the spring as temperatures warm up, you'll start to see the first green shoots poking up. As the leaves and flowers develop, you may have a larger animal to keep at bay: deer see tulips as a tasty treat. You can make your tulips less tasty to them by using a natural deterrent.
If you want blooms sooner or don't have a spot to plant them outside, try growing peony tulips indoors. By forcing the bulbs early, you can get full, colorful blooms as early as February or March. The blooms last for several weeks indoors and can last even longer if kept in a cool spot.
Tulip peonies bring the best of tulips and peonies together into one plant. We love to grow as many as we can find space for, but even just a few in a container will make an eye-catching display, thanks to those full, colorful blooms. When picking out bulbs to plant in fall, be sure to explore the dozens of varieties of these beautiful tulips, and get growing! You'll thank us next spring.