here are many categories of bulbs – some familiar and some truly “specimen” in nature. I’ve listed the major ones below. In each subsection you can find out more about the unique nature of that variety. All these varieties need to be in the ground in fall in order to produce beautiful spring displays!
School children generally choose tulips when asked to draw a picture of flowers – and for good reason. Tulips are the most common type of bulb planted and with its wealth of variations, is highly recognizable as well. These flowers have a long and interesting history – there was a time that a tulip sold for 1200 guilders – the price of four canal houses in Holland.
Almost all tulips, botanically known as “Tulipa”, are single stem, usually with one bloom, and are available in a wide array of colors. They are formally categorized by their bloom time and unique characteristics. This table highlights the major categories. There are many other botanical species of tulips that are not included here.
|Description||Comments||Examples of Variety|
|Single Early Tulip / Early Spring||One flower with six petals -short||Hardy||Bellona, General de Wet|
|Double Early Tulip / Early Spring||Many petals -large blooms -short||Long-lasting blooms- strong stems||Electra, Peach Blossom|
|Triumph Tulip / Mid Spring||Single, large, cup-shaped blooms||Strong stems – cross breed of single & late tulips||Dreaming Maid, New Design|
|Darwin Hybrid / Mid Spring||Largest bloom of all tulips – tall||Strong stems – wide range of colors||Holland’s Glory, Pink Impression|
|Darwin (Single Late) / Late Spring||Tallest of all tulips – deep, cup-shaped blooms||Strong stems – wide range of colors||Queen of Night, Maureen|
|Lily-flowering / Late Spring||Single, pointed blooms, reflexed petals||Strong stems – contrast well with other varieties||Mariette, West Point|
|Parrot / Late Spring||Large, feather-like bloom, twisted petals||Often spotted – before opening bloom may be green – fragile – plant in protected areas||Blue Parrot, Texas Gold|
|Fringed / Late Spring||Fringed petals||Long-lasting blooms||Blue Heron, Fancy Frills|
|Multiflowered (Species) / Late Spring||Multiple blooms per main stem||Many variances with regard to height & bloom size||Praestans Fusilier, Toronto|
|Kaufmanniana (Species) / Early Spring||Broad, tapered petals, very short||Open flowers resemble water lily||Johann Strauss, Ancilla|
|Fosteriana (Species) / Early Spring||Large blooms||Vigorous – sometimes mottled foliage||Red Emperor, Sweetheart|
|Greigii (Species) / Early Spring||Wide, pointed petals, large bloom, short||Strong stems – often spotted leaves are purple-striped||Red Riding Hood, Cape Cod|
It is first necessary to dispell any confusion – daffodils and narcissus are synonyms and thus often used interchangeably. The name originated from a Greek Myth – a youth was so fond of his own reflection that he was changed into a flower.
Today the flower most commonly pictured when this category is mentioned is the bright yellow large-trumpeted daffodil. The category does however contain some 26 species with most being either yellow, orange or white and fragrant. These flowers are important ingredients for perfumes and scents.
Narcissus are formally classified based upon the petals (perianths) and the size of their centers (trumpets, cups, or coronas). The table below highlights the distinctions between the categories. Other botanical species are also available that are not detailed here.
|Classification||Description||Comments||Examples of Variety|
|Narcissus Trumpet||Length of its center (trumpet) is equal to or longer than the petals||One flower per stem – large blooms||Unsurpassable, Mount Hood|
|Large-cupped Narcissus||Length of its center (cup) is at least one-third the length of its petals||One flower per stem – large blooms (smaller centers than trumpet)||Fortissimo, Ice Follies|
|Small-cupped Narcissus||Length of its center (cup) is less than one-third the length of its petals||One flower per stem – large blooms (smaller centers than large-cupped)||Barrett Browning, Flower Record|
|Double Narcissus||More than one layer of petals||Somewhat rumpled effect – one flower per stem||Cheerfulness, Mary Copeland|
|Triandrus Narcissus||Petals curve backward, short||2-6 flowers per stem – variety of cup sizes||Thalia, Hawera|
|Narcissus Cyclamineus||Petals curve backward, dwarf||One flower per stem – weight of flowers slightly bend stems||February Gold, Jack Snipe|
|Jonquilla Narcissus||Length of center (crown) is less than one-half length of petal||2-6 flowers per stem – very sweet smelling||Baby Moon, Suzy|
|Narcissus Tazetta||Small centers, multi-flowering||4-8 flowers per stem – very sweet smelling||Paperwhite (Totus Albus), Geranium|
|Narcissus Poeticus||White petals, short, flat cups (eyes)||Usually one flower per stem||Actaea (Pheasant Eye)|
|Narcissus Split Crown||Petals resemble large-cupped, centers spread/split open||One flower per stem – resemble butterfly when open||Cassata, Dolly Molllinger|
Tip: When purchasing a narcissus bulb, do not be surprised by its irregularity. These bulbs are odd shaped and sold on the basis of the number of “noses” (shoots). “DN” stands for double nose and the number following the “DN” relates to its size. The larger bulb produces more and larger flowers.
- DN I – Largest size
- DN II – Medium
- DN III – Smallest size
Hyacinths are bountiful in their range of colors and coupled with their fragrance, make wonderful additions to your landscape or indoor space. They are also excellent for forcing.
Hyacinths are actually a singular species of bulbs. The flower size is determined by the bulb size – the larger the bulb, the bigger and more compact the flower. The flowers are stiff, regular multi-flowering stalks.
Legend has it that the hyacinth got its name from Greek mythology: In the blood spilled from jealousy between Apollo and Hyakinthos breed a flower – the hyacinth.
Examples : Ann Marie, Blue Jacket
The blooms of crocus plantings often poke out through the melting snow of winter offering us the first signs of spring. There are many species of crocuses – with some species flowering in fall and thus categorized as spring plantings.
The crocus flower is very short, almost ground level and stemless. They are cultivated in a wide assortment of colors. The flowers open in sunlight and close at night and in bad weather.
Several species are available. The principal ones with some suggested plants are:
- Crocus Chrysanthus
- Cream Beauty, Prins Claus
- Flowers are often bi-colored and smaller than Vernus
- Crocus Tomasinianus
- Ruby Giant
- Flowers are lavender and when open form a star
- Crocus Vernus
- Pickwick, Remembrance
- Most popular of crocus – flowers are larger than other varieties