Tulip delights, Tulipa 'Little Princess' & T. batalinii

Lee Poulsen wpoulsen@pacbell.net
Wed, 26 Apr 2006 15:57:30 PDT
On Apr 25, 2006, at 12:05 PM, Merrill Jensen wrote:
> Do you have any other species growing without any special care down 
> there?
> I'm doing my early research for and Pacific Hort article on species 
> tulips
> and am looking for more that do well without any chilling.

I've only tried a few Tulips species, and the absolute star of the show 
for no chilling and in fact no care whatsoever is the T. 
clusiana/clusiana var chrysantha family and cultivars (Sheila, 
Peppermint Stick, Lady Jane, Tinka, Tubergens' Gem, Cynthia, etc.). 
These just increase and increase year after year and bloom without fail 
every year. No special care or soil or watering regimen or anything.

T. bakeri 'Lilac Wonder' is nearly as good. We like it the best however 
because it looks the most like the Dutch style tulip hybrids of all the 
ones I grow. Every once in a while it skips a year of blooming. T. 
saxatilis does well too. I'm no expert, so I can't see a big 

T. 'Little Princess' and 'Little Beauty' bloom every year and are 
almost as good as the clusiana family except that they don't multiply 
as quickly nor are as vigorous as the clusiana are. Always plenty of 
blooms in the spring.

When I read that the parents of one or the other (or both?) of these 
were T. aucheriana and T. hageri var. splendens, I got some of both and 
have been growing them for a few years. Neither is as good as the two 
'Little' hybrids, and I haven't gotten hageri to bloom even though it 
leafs out and multiplies. T. aucheriana doesn't bloom as well as the 
hybrids but at least it blooms now and then. It's interesting that the 
hybrids do better in this climate for me than either of the parent 

I've tried T. sylvestris, but it never endures. This may be because it 
doesn't like growing in pots for more than a few seasons.
T. tarda (dasystemon) is also supposed to not require chilling either, 
but it only does as well as sylvestris for me.  Maybe it hates pots, 

Finally, Charles Hardman (former president of IBS) swears by T. 
wilsoniana. They don't so as well for me, although they do bloom every 
other year on average. I think I'm not growing them correctly because 
they haven't exactly thrived in my growing conditions. Maybe it's the 
soil mix I use or something.

Harold Koopowitz says the annoying thing about all the hybrid tulips 
the Dutch have developed over the centuries is that, had they done it 
differently, we could have had the same breadth of flower colors, 
forms, etc., but with perfectly mediterranean-growing ability--since so 
many of the original source species do just fine in mediterranean 
climates. But they only cared what would survive outside in Holland and 
thus got hundreds and thousands of cultivars that won't grow in So. 
Calif. (or Texas, etc.) without pre-chilling in the refrigerator and 
dying out after blooming.

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USDA Zone 10a

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