Tulipa humilis

Seven species tulips to grow

Discover seven tough but beautiful species tulips to grow – they should come back reliably year after year.

If you find tulips difficult to grow, you may find species tulips easier. These are quite unlike their large-flowered cousins, which dazzle in their first year, then all but disappear the next.


Species tulips are as reliable as daffodils and, while they’re shorter, smaller and seem more delicate, they’ve got the stamina for long-lived displays. Most species tulips hail from the mountainous regions of northern Turkey, so they can cope with extreme weather. With minimum care, they’ll flower year after year, and many will bulk up into clumps after a few years.

Like cultivars, species tulips prefer growing in free-draining soil in full sun. Plant them in drifts for swathes of colour, dot them around a rockery, or show off their blooms with decorative mulches in pots.

More tulip content:

Discover seven stunning species tulips to grow, below.

With minimum care, species tulips will flower year after year, and many will bulk up into clumps after a few years.


Tulipa platystigma


The rose-pink flowers of Tulipa platystigma bear traces of orange running through the petals, becoming clearer towards the margins.

Height: 60cm.


Tulipa linifolia


This species thrives where summers are hot and winters are cold. It’s ideal for rock gardens or container displays. Flowers in late-April.

H: 20cm.


Tulipa humilis


Tulipa humilis is a sweet-scented and early-flowering species tulip to grow. Flowers from March to April.

H: 10cm.


Tulipa armena var. lycica


Grow Tulipa armena var. lycica in a sunny spot, as this species likes a hot, dry dormancy period in summer. Flowers in April.

H: 25cm.


Tulipa tarda


Tulipa tarda looks great in rock gardens and containers. Flowers in April.

H: 15cm.


Tulipa acuminata


Tulipa acuminata is one of the oldest species tulips in cultivation. Combine it with with foliage plants to show off its spidery blooms. Flowers in May.

H: 40cm.


Tulipa altaica


With bright yellow blooms, Tulipa altaica is perfect grown on its own in pots. Flowers in April.


H: 15cm.

Kate Bradbury says

As with cultivated tulips, give plants a good feed after flowering and mulch with organic matter. Allow the leaves to fully wither before removing. This will give them the best chance of flowering the following year.

Kate Bradbury