The Tulip Bulb
The Tulip Bulb, of the genus Tulipa, belongs to the lily family
There are 100 species, mostly originating from the Middle East,
but also from Europe stretching across to the Himalayas . The name
'tulip' derives from a corruption of a Middle Eastern word for turban,
which the tulip flower is said to resemble.
Tulip bulbs have been popular garden plants in Europe for 300
years.They were introduced from Turkey , where they had already
achieved great acclaim, and were an instant success. Within 100
years tulip mania had swept Holland and the surrounding countries.
Today, specialist growers worldwide, in Holland especially, cultivate
hundreds of named varieties. In addition to this breeding work,
plant collectors have continued to seek the original species in
their native countries, thus extending the range of colors, flower
shapes and heights available.
All tulips grow from rounded or somewhat egg-shaped bulbs. These
have thin outer skins and come to a point at the top. This should
face upwards when planted in the ground. Most carry a solitary flower
on an upright stem, but a few have two or more per stem.
The flowers are goblet shaped, with six petals that vary from
slender and pointed to broadly rounded. There is also what is known
as Double types. These have many more than the normal number of
petals per bloom. In mature flowers the petals generally open out
rather flat in the sunlight.
1st stage of growth
2nd stage of growth
leaves are formed
final stage with the flower
One or two leaves grow at or near ground level, with two or three
smaller ones up the flower stem. A few species - including Tulipa
tarda - have a tuft of narrow leaves at ground level.
Many of the attractive color blemishes - known as color breaks
- found in tulip flowers are due to a virus. This virus causes vividly
defined splashes of color to appear. The virus can be isolated and
coerced into a new color strain. Natural mutation is another common
source of changes of color. When this happens the plants are called
Nearly every form of tulip, flowers well in the first year after
planting the bulbs. This is provided you choose your tulip bulb
well and prepare the ground correctly. Only a flooded garden or
one of the serious pests or diseases will prevent this. After the
first year, however, it requires careful cultivation to get some
tulips to flower again.
The official classification of the tulip bulb defines 14 divisions
or groups of cultivated varieties - mainly on the basis of flower
shape, flowering season and lineage - with a fifteenth division