If you love the beauty of tulips in the spring garden but you live where the instructions for getting tulips to put on a good show for you include having new tulip bulbs spend a month or more in your refrigerator each year before planting, I have some great news for you. After trying a few different wild tulip species that claimed to be able to handle low winter chilling and hot summers, I have found a species that not only repeats but slowly multiplies in my North Texas garden. (If you want some of the more classic, hybrid tulips you will need to follow the instructions found on the Texas AgriLife Extension Service website and plan to treat them as annuals.)
I have had success with three cultivars of the T. clusiana species, “Cynthia”, “Lady Jane” and “Peppermint”. These tulips are not as large as the hybrids but do have a fairly classic tulip shape when in the bud stage or when they close for the evening. When they are closed, each of these cultivars has alternating petals of red and white or yellow, depending on the cultivar. They open each day to reveal their white or yellow inner petal color. These cultivars range in height from 8 to 14 inches. I purchased my bulbs online from McClure & Zimmerman.
I planted two different areas of my gardens when I first experimented with these tulips and they are thriving in each. One is off the north side of my front porch. The area gets morning sun but is spared the hot afternoon sun during the time the tulips are “up”. The other area off the NW corner of my garage is basically the reverse with regards to the sun. Both areas are mulched with cypress chips and receive no supplemental water.
So if you live where you thought you could only grow tulips as annuals after providing them some chilling time in your refrigerator, give these wild tulips a try.