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Kaufmanniana Tulips - the Dwarf Perennial Tulip

Updated on April 15, 2015

Short and stout with star-shaped flowers that open out flat in sunlight, Kaufmanniana Tulips are sometimes called Waterlily Tulips (not to be confused with <a href="">Lily Tulips</a>. They are the earliest tulips to flower, appearing from March to April, making them an unusual and colorful alternative or companion to daffodils.

Leaves may be mottled or striped and height is 6" (15cm) to 12" (30cm).

They have all been bred from the wild tulip, kaufmanniana, from Turkestan, so they make excellent perennial tulips, naturalizing easily.

Good Companions

Greigii Tulips, Fosteriana Tulips and Single Early Tulips, should flower in March and some of April, while some Botanical tulips (Species Tulips), Double Early Tulips, Triumph Tulips, Darwin Tulips and Single Late Tulips (late April), and some Allium bulbs will flower in April.

Follow Up Bulbs and Flowers

Growing columbine is a good way to hide the dying foliage of early Tulips, as its busy foliage comes up early. Its flowers arrive from May, making it also a good companion for later tulips: Double Late Tulips, Parrot Tulips, Lily-flowered Tulips, Viridiflora Tulips, some Fringed Tulips flower in May.

Tulipa 'Ancilla'

Like many Kaufmanniana Tulips, which open flat, Tulipa 'Ancilla' is impressive inside and out. Outside, petals are deep red and cream alternately, and inside pure white with a bright red ring enclosing a yellow throat and yellow stamens. All colors soften over time. Leaves are glaucous.

This featured-packed tulip has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Tulip 'Early Harvest

Tulip 'Early Harvest' will launch spring with a fiery display of vivid oranges, reds and golds - a dramatic alternative to yellow daffodils.

Unlike other Kaufmanniana tulips, these have rounded not pointed petals.

This is one of only two Kaufmanniana tulips to have been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Height is 8" to 10" (20cm to 30cm) and large leaves are smudged with maroon.

Tulipa 'Heart's Delight'

Tulip 'Heart's Delight' has petals of soft red edged with pink on the outside - visible on cloudy days - and white on the inside - visible on sunny days, when the flowers open out, when a yellow heart is also revealed.

Height is about 10" (25cm).

Tulipa 'Stresa'

A real eye-catcher, Tulip 'Stresa' has bright orange-red petals, edged with a wide band of gold. Inside, they are golden with central red markings. Stamens are yellow.

Tulip 'Stresa' grows to about 10" (25cm).

Tulip 'Scarlet Baby'

At a height of only 8" (20cm), 'Scarlet Baby' is one of the smallest of all tulips. Striking wine red flowers have bright yellow centers. Great for pots.

Tulipa 'Shakespeare'

Shakespeare Tulips are an unusual mixture of red, salmon, apricot and orange. On the outside its petals are red with apricot piping and inside they are orange with deep red flames surrounding a yellow heart.

Height is about 10" (25cm).

Growing Tips

  • Plant kaufmaniana tulips bulbs deep - at about 6" (15cm), and then plant later flowering bulbs above them.

  • Don't disturb them. They don't like it. If left alone, they'll happily naturalize and spread, giving you perennial tulips.

  • Low-growing, they are also good for pots and rockeries.


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