How to Plant and Grow Waterlily Tulips

Waterlily tulips are early-spring bloomers that get their common name from their resemblance to the blooms of waterlilies when their flowers are fully open. Also listed as Kaufmanniana tulips, the stems are quite short and sturdy, reaching only 4-10 inches tall. This characteristic makes them ideal for exposed sites or container gardens. The foliage of waterlily tulips is either blue-green or mottled with deep maroon or brownish stripes. These plants perennialize well.

Waterlily Tulip Overview

Genus Name Tulipa kaufmanniana
Common Name Waterlily Tulip
Plant Type Bulb
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 6 to 6 inches
Width null to 6 inches
Flower Color Blue, Green, Orange, Pink, Red, White
Foliage Color Chartreuse/Gold
Season Features Spring Bloom
Special Features Cut Flowers, Fragrance, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Propagation Division
Problem Solvers Drought Tolerant

Varieties of Waterlily Tulip

Uncle Tom Tulip

Tulipa Angelique

Double-flowered tulips stand out because their blooms are packed with petals. Some have so many petals that they are referred to as peony-flowered tulips for their resemblance to those flowers. Bloom time depends on type; some bloom in early spring and others bloom late. Regardless of when they show off their flowers, the blossoms last a long time because the flowers have so much substance.Double tulips' large, heavy blooms can be a drawback: Rains and strong winds easily damage the flowers, so plant them in a protected location. Or grow double tulips in containers that you can easily protect during storms. Staking the 10- to 16-inch-tall stems may also be necessary.

Purple Prince Tulip

Purple Prince tulip

Single early tulips are available in nearly every color of the rainbow, including white, red, orange, yellow, and purple. Pastel colors of pink, peach, apricot, and cream are also available. Generally, the flowers are borne on short, strong stems, which means they can tolerate wind and rain better than some types of tulips. Those with the shortest stems may not work well as cut flowers, but those in the taller range make fine bouquets. Some varieties are fragrant, too.Use single early tulips in flowerbeds, borders, container gardens, rock gardens, or for indoor forcing. Because they bloom early, they generally need less chilling to force them into bloom than later-blooming types.

Ad Rem Tulip

Tulipa 'Ad Rem' (Darwin Hybrid Tulip)

Among the tallest of all tulips, Darwin Hybrids offer big, showy flowers that stand out in spring gardens. Blooms can reach 6 inches in diameter when fully open! They bloom in almost every color, including bicolors with striping, speckling, and edging. Their long stems make them great cut flowers, but that also means they need to be protected from wind so strong breezes don't snap the flowers off the stems.

Dreamland Tulip

Dreamland tulip

Single late tulips are also sometimes called May flowering tulips because in most regions they bloom in May after all other types of tulips have finished. These tall tulips grow up to 30 inches tall, making them excellent as cut flowers. They come in a wide range of colors, including red, yellow, orange, pink, purple, black, and white as well as bicolors and blends.

Flaming Parrot

Flaming Parrot Tulip

Parrot tulips are flamboyant with their curly, twisted, and fringed petals that resemble the colorful feathers of the tropical bird of the same name. However, their beak-shape buds are what earned them their moniker. Nearly all varieties of parrot tulip are vibrantly colored, and many are two-toned.Parrot tulips bloom mid- to late season on stems ranging from 12 to 28 inches tall. Their huge blooms do not stand up well in windstorms or rain, so plant them in a sheltered location.

Ballade Tulip

Tulip Ballade 'Lily-Flowered Tulip'

Lily-flowered tulips are named for the shape of their blooms, which resemble old species tulips from Turkey. Their long, pointed petals arch outward and, when fully open, look like a six-point star. They come in a wide array of colors including purple, pink, white, orange, red, yellow, peach, and combinations of these shades. Most varieties bloom late in the spring season.Stems of lily-flowered tulips grow 1-2 feet tall. They are not as sturdy as some other tulip types, so plant them in a location protected from strong winds.

Rob Verlinden Tulip

Tulipa greigii 'Rob Verlinden'

Greigii tulips are also known as Greig's tulips and Turkestan tulips, a reference to the geographic origin of the species from which these hybrids derive. They are shorter than most tulips, averaging about 10 inches tall. Flowers appear in midspring. Most varieties are bright shades of red, yellow, pink, white, or bicolor combinations of these hues. The foliage tends to be mottled in purple, creating additional texture in the garden.Because greigii tulips are short, they're perfect for the front of the border, rock gardens, or container plantings. They naturalize well.

Hamilton Tulip

Hamilton tulip

Fringed tulips got their name from the distinct frayed edge on their petals. This fringe may be the same color as the rest of the petal or it may contrast. The fringe makes the flowers appear full of substance.The frayed edging comes from mutations in tulips of various categories, so the blooming time and heights vary. Most bloom in mid to late season and can reach 30 inches tall. Flower colors come in the same range as other tulips -- red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, and black.

Orange Emperor Tulip

Tulipa 'Orange Emperor' (Fosteriana Tulip)

Fosteriana tulips bloom early in the spring with large cup-shape flowers. The large bloom size has earned them the alternate name of Emperor tulips. The flowers may be red, orange, yellow, pink, or white, and some varieties are fragrant. Foliage may be glossy green or gray-green. Some are mottled or striped with maroon.Use Fosteriana tulips in mass plantings, beds and borders, or containers. They naturalize well.

Batalinii Tulip Red Hunter

Tulipa batalinii 'Red Hunter'

If you want long-lived tulips, pick the species types. These include wild varieties and selections developed from those species. Most are smaller in stature and bloom size than hybrid tulips. Because they are variants of wildflowers, species tulips are usually long-lived, hardy, and withstand stormy spring weather conditions. Many multiply and spread from year to year. Species tulips are especially suited for growing in rock gardens or tucked into beds and borders. Many open only in sunny conditions, keeping their blooms closed on cloudy days or in the evening.

Passionale Tulip

Tulipa Passionale 'Triumph Tulip'

A result of crossing early and late single tulips, Triumph tulip varieties come in almost every imaginable color and make up the largest grouping of tulip types. As a group, they flower in early midseason and grow between 10-20 inches tall. Triumph tulips make good cut flowers and work well for forcing into bloom indoors. They retain the classic cuplike shape of their single tulip parents.

Flaming Springgreen Tulip

Tulip Viridiflora Flaming Spring Green

Viridiflora tulips all have green streaks on their petals. In fact, the name comes from the Latin words for green and flower. However, green is far from the only color on their blooms. They are available in shades of yellow, white, pink, red, orange, purple, or dual tones.Flowering time of viridiflora tulips is variable, but most are late-season bloomers, and the flowers are long-lasting. Stem heights range from 16 to 24 inches tall.

Heart's Delight Tulip

Tulipa 'Heart's Delight' (Kaufmanniana Tulip)

(Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Heart's Delight') is an early-season tulip, blooming at the same time as Siberian squill. The rosy-red exterior of the petals fades to pale pink edging. On the inside, petals are ivory with golden yellow bases blotched in red. The foliage is mottled with purplish stripes. It grows 8 inches tall. Plant in zones 3-8.

Love Song Tulip

Love Song tulip

(Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Love Song') has glowing mandarin-orange blooms with bright yellow edges and bases to the petals. It makes a stunning companion to purple crocus in an exposed site or in container gardens. It grows only 4-8 inches tall and blooms in early spring. Plant in zones 3-8.

Showwiner Tulip

Showwiner tulip

(Tulipa kaufmanniana 'Showwiner') is prize worthy for its lively cardinal-red blooms with bright yellow bases. It blooms in early spring along with white crocuses. This variety of waterlily tulip is good for forcing. Stems grow 8-10 inches tall. Plant in zones 3-8.

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