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 them in fall when you would plant other tulip bulbs.

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Peonies are a favorite in many gardens, and for good reason: Their blooms contain rows and rows of colorful petals, and they're ideal cut flowers for arrangements and wedding bouquets. Now imagine all that flower power packed into an easy-to-grow tulip. When you plant peony tulips in your garden, they never fail to look stunning when their huge flowers appear in spring. 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 growing outside pink and white
Credit: Matthew Benson

What Are Peony Tulips?

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 or more colors, such as striking 'Ice Cream' ($60, The Home Depot) that has white petals surrounded by pink and green petals. Some popular varieties include soft pink 'Angelique' ($20, QVC) and purple 'Blue Spectacle' ($7, Holland Bulb Farms). You can also find varieties with fringed edges, such as ‘Cool Crystal’ ($25, Tulip World).

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, or slightly less in a vase. Most are fragrant, too. But whichever varieties you choose, peony tulips always put on an impressive show.

How to Grow Peony Tulips

To grow peony tulips 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 appealing to critters by using a repellent.

High angle view of Blue Spectacle tulips
high angle view of pink flowers blooming in garden
Left: 'Blue Spectacle' tulips have layers of purplish pink petals. | Credit: Carson Downing
Right: Fringed petals make 'Cool Crystal' peony tulips extra gorgeous. | Credit: Carson Downing

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. They look especially stunning in large groups, 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.

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