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Entries in Species Tulips (2)


Pink is a Man’s Color? 

Fosteriana tulip Albert Heyn when the temperature is cool.Meet Albert Heyn. He is a pink Fosteriana species tulip growing in my garden. The bulb could have been named either The Heyn Tulip, or Albertina, or even Alberta. Nope! Someone decided that an attractive pink tulip - flowering in a color that used to be reserved for girls - needed a courageously masculine name. It is fascinating that my generation [yes, we are older] will consider this a cultural contradiction, while thankfully, such nonsense will go unnoticed by younger people. 

Albert Heyn drenched in hot sunI deliberately chose to work with species tulips because I had been taught that such early blooming bulbs perform just like perennial do; they will re appear for years to come. My sources must know what they write about because another species tulip, a red Kaufmaniana of unknown name, has been re blooming in my garden for almost 20 years.

Most species tulips tend to flower in warm-to hot-color families. For example, the awesome Gregii Casa Grande, blooms in a fiery scarlet. Fosteriana Albert Heyn is the first pink species tulip, I have ever seen.

A few surplus bulbs of Albert Heyn, hastily planted in late fall, as they appear at the end of a hot day in the sun. They would have been more attractive if planted in a round grouping instead of a straight line. Pink is the favorite color of my wife, my clients, and many gardeners. When it is included in flower compositions, it puts a smile on everyone's face. That is why, for years, I searched relentlessly for a pink species tulip to enhance the early spring flowerbed.

Albert Heyn, a medium height pink variety, was offered in my area for the first time, last fall. It popped out at me, from a mail order catalog page, where I was attracted to its pink petals, highlighted with a streak of violet. It practically had a client's name all over it, one who is very partial to plants in the lilac-pink family.

Last autumn, I planted this Fosteriana tulip for several clients' but did not reserve enough for myself. Now that I have observed the performance of only a few of these bulbs in my own garden - the peach overcast that appears on the petals in hot sun is a welcome surprise -  I intend to add more.

Next season, my test flowerbeds will benefit from the early punch of pink that this species tulip delivers. It will bring a smile to our faces; and no one will care that its given name is Albert.


More About Perennial "Species" Tulips

In my posting of August 31, 2009 I mentioned that Species tulips perform as perennials. Unlike perennial Darwin tulips, they are short in height but, like most tulip bulbs, they require good drainage. Species tulips look best when planted in groups of 5 or more and need hot dry summers and cold winters, preferably with a blanket of snow or mulch. Here are some Species tulips that merit consideration.


Praestans. Two varieties of Praestans are currently available. One is Fuselier and the other is Unicum. Fusilier bulbs produce orange-scarlet flowers with grey-green foliage and reach a height of 12 to 14 inches. Unicum are shorter; they grow only 6 to 12 inches tall. Their flowers are red and leaves are variegated. Both varieties bloom in early spring.


Pulchella. This type, which blooms in early to mid spring, grows only 4 to 6 inches tall and produces purple red flowers with bright yellow centers.


Tarda. Each stem grows 4 to 6 inches tall and produces one to six star-shaped flowers with white petals and yellow centers. While it begins flowering in mid spring, its blooms open consecutively over a period of a month.


Candia tulips grows 6 to 9 inches tall and produce one to four star-shaped rose-lilac flowers with petals that are yellow on the inside. Its bloom period is mid to late spring.


Clusiana is a good rock garden plant that blooms in mid summer at 8 to 10 inches tall. Each stem produces one or two star-shaped flowers with petals alternating bright pink and white.


Turkestanica blooms in mid spring and grows 8 to 10 inches tall. Each stem produces 6 to 12 star shaped white flowers with grey-purple flames on the exterior.