Tulips are one of springtime’s favorite flowers. While there are thousands of individual varieties, all these different tulips can be separated into 16 main categories. Every tulip cultivar is placed into one of these 16 divisions when registered with The Royal General Bulb Growers’ Association, based in Holland. Let’s look at the 16 types of tulips, including the defining characteristics and some popular varieties that fit into each category.
1. Single Early Tulips
Single Early Tulips are perhaps the most popular type of tulips. These classic beauties produce a single flower head per stalk. Each flower has six petals, and many varieties are quite fragrant. The total height of these plants in flower is in the range of 8″-14″ tall. Single Early Tulips bloom from early spring to mid-spring.
Here are some popular varieties of Single Early Tulips:
Single Early Tulips are referred to as Division One in the classification system of the Royal General Bulb Growers’ Association (KAVB).
2. Double Early Tulips
Double Early Tulips are another extremely popular type of tulip. These full-bodied blooms also produce a single flower per stalk, but each flower has a double set of petals. The inner layer of petals gives this type of tulip the nickname “peony tulips”, as they really can look like peonies in bloom.
Here are some popular cultivars of the Double Early Tulip type:
Double Early Tulips are generally shorter than single-petaled varieties, with stocky stems about 8″-12″ tall. These tulips bloom from early spring to mid-spring. Double Early Tulips are classed as Division Two in the international grouping system.
3. Triumph Tulips
Triumph Tulips are a type of tulip created in the early 1900’s by crossing Single Early Tulips with old-fashioned Darwin Tulips. There are now dozens of different kinds of Triumph Tulips. These flowers have a cupped shape and slightly angular petals. Most Triumph Tulips bloom in mid-spring, with a few flowering into late spring.
Here are some popular Triumph Tulips:
Triumph Tulips range in height from about 10″-18″ tall. Triumph Tulips are Division Three in the international classification system for tulip cultivars.
4. Darwin Hybrid Tulips
Darwin Hybrid Tulips are a popular type of tulip known for their large flowers that typically come in quite vivid colors. Some of the most famous tulip varieties are Darwin Hybrids. These tall plants reach 12″-20″ tall, depending on the specific variety. Darwin Hybrids bloom in mid-spring. Many of the most popular tulip varieties are Darwin Hybrids.
Here are some popular Darwin Hybrid tulip varieties:
- Tulipa ‘Red Impression’ (Red Dynasty)
- Tulipa ‘Pink Impression’ (Guinevere)
- Tulipa darwinhybrid ‘Golden Parade’
Darwin Hybrid Tulips are hybrids of old-fashioned Darwin tulips. Darwin Hybrid Tulips are Division Four in the tulip classification grouping system.
5. Single Late Tulips
Single Late Tulips are a very popular type of tulip known for their exceptionally tall height and tolerance to warm temperatures. While some varieties are as short as 12″ tall, some cultivars can reach 30″ high in full bloom. Single Late Tulips flower in mid-spring to late spring.
Single Late Tulips are prized bedding plants in both home gardens and municipal landscaping displays. This group includes old-fashioned Darwin tulips as well as old-fashioned Cottage tulips. Single Late Tulips are referred to as Division Five in the tulip type grouping system.
6. Lily-Flowered Tulips
Lily-Flowered Tulips are a unique class of tulips characterized by pointed petals and delicate vase form. These fragrant tulips tend to have an hourglass shape, with the pointy petals flared outwards at the top of the flower. Most varieties of Lily-Flowered Tulips bloom in mid-spring to late spring.
Here are some popular varieties of Lily-Flowered Tulips:
Lily-Flowered Tulips grow in a wide range of heights, from about 14″ tall up to 28″ tall (rivaling Single Late Tulips). The taller varieties tend to have weaker stems (especially older cultivars). Lily-Flowered Tulips are Division Six in the tulip classification system.
7. Fringed Tulips
Fringed Tulips are an easily recognizable group of tulips known for the fringed edges of their flower petals. Some types even have fringed margins that are a different color than the inner portion of the petal. While most are single petaled, there are some double varieties available. Most cultivars flower in late spring.
Here are some popular Fringed Tulips:
Fringed Tulips vary widely in height between different varieties due to the fact that the fringe is essentially a mutation that can occur in different types of tulips. The shortest varieties measure below 10″ tall and the tallest can reach 30″ tall. Fringed Tulips are Division Seven in the tulip grouping system.
8. Viridiflora Tulips
Viridiflora Tulips are specialty types of tulips with somewhat-pointed petals and a characteristic thick stripe of green running up the middle of each outer petal. This category of tulip blooms in late spring.
Here are some popular Viridiflora Tulip cultivars:
Viridiflora Tulips tend to grow in the range of 12″-24″ tall. This type is prized by florists as they are quite long-lasting as cut flowers. Viridiflora Tulips are Division Eight in the tulip classification system.
9. Rembrandt Tulips
Rembrandt Tulips are a historical category of tulips known for their streaked petals. This group gets its name from its prominence in paintings by the Dutch Masters. Unfortunately, the unique patterns of this type were due to a virus called Tulip Breaking Virus, which can infect other plants. True Rembrandt Tulips are no longer sold commercially due to their ability to spread disease to other plants.
Fortunately for gardeners, the incredible patterns of Rembrandt Tulips have been recreated by modern breeders in other tulip divisions which are not infected with TBV. Rembrandt Tulips are classified as Division Nine in the classification system.
Here are some tulips from other categories with Rembrandt-like patterns:
- Tulipa ‘World Expression’ (Single Late Tulip Group)
- Improved Rembrandt Tulips (Triumph Tulip Group)
- Tulipa ‘Helmar’ (Triumph Tulip Group)
10. Parrot Tulips
Parrot Tulips are a popular type of tulip known for their twisting, wavy petals and rich colors. Many types are bicolor (two-toned) and have incredible patterns. Some have a green stripe running up from the base of the outer petals. Parrot Tulips are generally short-medium in height, ranging from 12″-20″ tall.
Here are some favorite varieties of Parrot Tulips:
Parrot Tulips bloom from mid-spring to late spring. This type is classed as Division Ten in the tulip classification system.
11. Double Late Tulips
Double Late Tulips are late-flowering double varieties which are also known as peony tulips. These giant fluffy flowers are held up by strong stocky stems. Plants range from 12″-16″ tall while in bloom.
Here are some popular Double Late Tulip varieties:
Double Late Tulips are known as Division Eleven in the tulip classification system.
12. Kaufmanniana Tulips
Kaufmanniana Tulips are cultivars of Tulipa kaufmanniana, which is a wild tulip species native to Asia. These flowers have pointed petals and tend to open into an open star-like shape. Kaufmanniana Tulips are very short (typically 6″-8″ tall).
Here are several cultivars of Kaufmanniana Tulips:
- Tulipa kaufmanniana ‘Johann Strauss’
- Tulipa kaufmanniana ‘Heart’s Delight’
- Tulipa kaufmanniana ‘Stresa’
Kaufmanniana Tulips bloom in early spring. These flowers are Division Twelve in the tulip type system.
13. Fosteriana Tulips
Fosteriana Tulips are cultivars of Tulipa fosteriana, which is another wild tulip species native to Asia. The flowers have pointed petals, making the flowers look almost like floating lilies when they open. This similarity gives them the nickname “Waterlily Tulips”. Most plants grow in the range of 8″-20″ tall and have strong stems.
Here are some popular types of Fosteriana Tulips:
- Tulipa fosteriana ‘Sweet Sixteen’
- Tulipa fosteriana ‘Orange Brilliant’
- Tulipa fosteriana ‘Red Purissima’
- Tulipa fosteriana ‘Orange Emperor’
- Tulipa fosteriana ‘Flames Mystery’
Fosteriana Tulips bloom during mid-spring. This type is Division Thirteen in the classification system.
14. Greigii Tulips
Greigii Tulips are cultivars of or hybrids of Tulipa greigii, which is another wild species from Asia. This type is known not only for its huge cup-shaped flowers but also for its variegated and/or streaked foliage. Some varieties are branching, with each stem producing 2-4 individual flowers. Most varieties are quite short, and grow to be in the range of 10″-14″ tall.
Here are some popular cultivars of Greigii Tulips:
Greigii Tulips bloom from early spring to mid-spring. This type is Division Fourteen in the tulip grouping system.
15. Species Tulips
Species Tulips are other botanical species of wild tulips, as well as some cultivars with similar characteristics. These types are typically shorter than modern hybrid tulips, and some are quite good at naturalizing on their own.
Here are some cultivars of Species Tulips or miscellaneous other varieties:
- Tulipa tarda ‘Golden Charm’
- Tulipa humilis ‘Wild Blue Heart’
- Tulipa clusiana ‘Peppermintstick’
- Tulipa ‘Sunshine Reggae’
Species Tulips tend to bloom from early spring to mid-spring. This category is Division Fifteen in the tulip classification system.
16. Coronet Tulips
Coronet Tulips are modern crown-shaped tulips that were given their own category in 2018. These uniquely-shaped tulips have undulating petals, making the top of the flower resembles a crown. These flowers bloom at different points during the tulip season.
Here are some specific varieties of Coronet Tulips: