Species tulips

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Thu, 04 Apr 2019 18:35:13 PDT
About 10 years ago I started growing tulips from wild-collected seed. I 
don't have horticultural tulips in the garden because I worry about 
introducing viruses (which can also affect Lilium). More recently Kurt 
Vickery has offered seeds of many Tulipa species through his late-summer 
list. Many of them are beginning to mature and flower now. The 
raised-bed side of the bulb house is very colorful with red tulips -- 
some very large -- and numerous bulbs of an old Archibald collection 
from western Iran, which I think is Tulipa montana. The latter 
multiplies fast and is a beautiful color. On the other side of the bulb 
house, where I keep plunged pots, the curious Tulipa regelii has just 
finished flowering (yes, hand-pollinated), and now I'm enjoying a lovely 
pink one, received as Tulipa rosea. Pink is not a common color in wild 
tulips, and this one is an example of the annoying disconnect between 
author and editors in Diana Everett's "The genus Tulipa: Tulips of the 
world" (Kew 2013). Everett keeps the name T. rosea, but the assiduous 
lumpers at Kew put it with T. korolkowii and it is tucked into the 
section with the latter as running head. My three seedlings are 
identical in color and form, and have very narrow, glaucous leaves with 
strongly ruffled (crispate) margins. There's also a very tiny Tulipa 
cretica in first flower, only about 7 cm tall, in contrast to my old 
plants (Archibald seed) which are almost three times as tall in flower. 
Probably the little one will be larger in subsequent years.

A couple of years ago I made an open raised bed especially to hold 
mature, larger tulips. Three or four species are in there now, doing 
well. One is Tulipa rhodopaea, one of the "Neotulips" that are believed 
to be descended from garden introductions in the former Ottoman Empire. 
It is deep rose-pink, on tall stems, and I assume came from the Rhodope 
Mountains. I added some rocks and mat-forming little plants to extend 
the season on this bed, some crocuses for early and fall bloom, and some 
extra small Narcissus such as N. calcicola. Also trialing there are a 
few aril hybrid irises ('Cythe' has done very well) and Juno irises, 
growing in the background.

It can take quite a few years for tulips to flower from seed, but if you 
have the space and patience, it's well worth it.

Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA

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