Dwarf Tulipa-PBS and Alpine Topic of the Week

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Fri, 20 Feb 2004 11:46:10 PST
Other correspondents have mentioned some dwarf tulip species that grow well 
around most of North America. People in California and other warm areas 
sometimes think they can't grow tulips, but there are species that don't 
need a severe chill to flower. The best-known is Tulipa clusiana, which 
comes in several named varieties including a brilliant yellow and red. 
There are also a number of Mediterranean species, fairly rare in 
cultivation, that should flourish in warmer climates.

Some unusual dwarf tulips I have grown from seed (it takes 4 to 6 years for 
them to flower) include T. orithyoides (tiny, white-and-greenish, in flower 
now) from Central Asia; T. cretica, just putting up its first buds; and T. 
sharonensis from Israel, thanks to a NARGS member there, also about to 
flower here for the first time. I also have a lot of seedlings from the 
Archibalds' Iranian collections of several years ago, not yet ready to bloom.

No one yet has mentioned the plant sold under the name T. humilis 
'Lilliput'. I have trouble believing this is the same species as the other 
commercial forms of T. humilis, such as "Persian Pearl'. 'Lilliput' has 
dark red flowers right at ground level and very short foliage. I saw a 
picture once of T. kurdica which reminded me of it. I have a colony of 
'Lilliput' on the rock garden that has flowered regularly for the past 5 
years, a pretty good record for tulips in this relatively mild climate and 
rodent-infested countryside.

Other long-lived, dependable bloomers here include T. urumiensis, T. 
hageri, T. clusiana, T. sylvestris, and T. tarda.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

Northwestern Ore

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