Greigii Tulip Flowers – Growing Greigii Tulips In The Garden

Greigii Tulip Flowers – Growing Greigii Tulips In The Garden

By: Teo Spengler

Greigii tulips bulbs come from a species native to Turkestan. They are beautiful plants for containers since their stems are quite short and their blooms enormous. If you are interested in growing Greigii tulips, read on for additional information.

About Greigii Tulip Flowers

Greigii tulips are a joy to have in a sunny garden. With blooms very large in proportion to the size of the plant, they work well in rock gardens and borders as well as potted arrangements.

In full sun, the blooms open wide into cup-shaped flowers. When they are open, they can be more than 5 inches (12 cm.) across. As the sun passes, the petals fold up again for evening.

The petals of Greigii tulip flowers are often pointed. They can be shades of white, pink, peach, yellow or red. You can also find flowers that are colored in two tones or streaked.

The stems are not very long for tulips, averaging only 10 inches (25 cm.) tall. Each of the Greigii tulip bulbs will produce one stem topped by one flower. The foliage can also be striking, with purple stripes on markings on the leaves.

Greigii Tulip Varieties

Greigii tulip bulbs were introduced into Europe from Turkistan in 1872. Since that time, many different Greigii tulip varieties have been developed.

The majority of the Greigii varieties produce flowers in reds and oranges, For example, “Fire of Love” is bright red with interesting striping in the leaves. Both ‘Calypso’ and ‘Cape Code’ flame in shades of orange.

A few come in unusual colors. ‘Fur Elise,’ for example, is an elegant tulip with petals in soft shades of amber and palest yellow. ‘Pinocchio’ is a Greigii tulip variety with ivory petals licked by red flames.

Growing Greigii Tulips

If you are ready to start growing Greigii tulips in your garden, keep your hardiness zone in mind. Greigii tulip bulbs do best in cooler areas, like U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 7.

Be sure to select a site with good sun and well-draining soil. The soil should be fertile and moist. Plant the bulbs 5 inches (12 cm.) beneath the soil surface in autumn.

When the Greigii tulip bulbs have finished flowering, you can dig out the bulbs and let them mature in a place that is warm and dry. Replant them in autumn.

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Greigii Tulip Bulbs: Learn How To Care For Greigii Tulip Varieties - garden

Greigii Tulips
A unique addition to any garden. These tulips are defined by their variegated foliage and will have a shorter steam which leads upward to a big bloom! The leaves of each tulip are impressively striped with purplish streaks while the blooms tend to be rather large in proportion to the rest of the plant – and extremely vibrant as well. As an added bonus, the variegated foliage colors early in the season providing a little extra flair to the mostly green flower beds of late winter/early spring. Greigii tulips are popular choices for rock garden plantings and the borders of flower beds and look absolutely outstanding when planted in pots and containers.

Originating in the foothills of Central Europe, tulips were brought to Western Europe in the 16th century and soon became synonymous with the Dutch culture and one of the world's most popular flowers. Tulips look best when grouped into larger sized garden plantings or pots and containers – although they also present a spectacular display when blooming in our enormous Skagit Valley fields!

Tulip bulbs should be planted during the fall months so that they can flower in the spring. Bloom dates will mostly depend upon the local climate, but exposure to sun and water will also influence timing. These flowers do not require extensive sunlight and will bloom when planted in fully shaded areas. Tulips will typically produce a single flower per bulb, but some varieties will have multiple blooms. Great as a garden flower or cut and placed in a vase, tulips are known to be a declaration of love!

Bulb Size : 12 cm and up

Sun : Prefers Full to Partial Sun

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Tulip Series: Kaufmanniana and Greigii Tulips


  • Bloomtime: Early Spring
  • Height: 6 – 16”
  • Petal Shape/Habit: Somewhat pointed, often flaired
  • Planting Depth: 6 – 8” below soil surface
  • Planting Spacing: 4 – 6” or in bouquets of 5 – 7 bulbs each
  • Light Requirements: Full Sun for best blooms
  • Hardy in Zones: 3 – 8

The short habit of Kaufmanniana and Greigii tulips made them excellent choices for rock gardens, borders and potted plantings. The leaves are often mottled or striped, adding even more interest to the extremely bright blooms. The flower heads appear quite large in proportion to the overall size of the plant and often flair out, earning them the name “water lily tulips” by some – the Mariani Landscape blog has some wonderful photos of several different varieties. As if all of these desirable attributes weren’t enough, these darlings also perennialize and naturalize extremely well!

The Tango Greigii Tulip is by far my favorite. It blooms in an amazing orange/red hue which I have yet to find a match for in any other bulb. The dark base of the petals adds to the striking appearance and the leaves are also patterned with deeply colored stripes and spots. I love using this one with other shades of orange!

Being the only short tulip variety with full-sized blooms, the Kaufmanniana and Greigiis are ones you definitely do not want to leave out of your early spring garden — even if you don’t have much space!

How To Grow Tulips Successfully

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ne of the most important things to know about modern tulips is that most hybrids will only bloom satisfactorily the first year or two after you plant them. You’ll need to replant regularly if you want the same show you got the first year. Those gorgeous beds of tulips that we see in public gardens or botanical centers are planted in the fall and then after blooming the following spring, the bulbs are dug out and discarded. Since they won’t bloom again the next spring, they are replaced, first with plants that will bloom the rest of the gardening season and then with new bulbs in the fall.

Let’s talk tulip varieties

Fortunately, there are a number of tulip varieties that are reliably perennial. They will return and bloom for many years and will save you quite a bit of money. These tulips are called "species" tulips, meaning that they are basically wild forms found in nature. Some have been hybridized to impart desired qualities such as different colors and additional vigor, but they retain their perennial nature.

As you can see from the photos at left, there is some variation in color and habit within a given species. These are just a small sample of what is available to you. There are also whites, pinks, reds with a picotee edge and tulips with leaves that are mottled, striped or edged in white.

My favorite species tulips are T. sylvestris, a U.S. native whose common name is simply “Wild Tulip” T. vvedenskyi 'Tangerine Beauty' (above), a drop-dead gorgeous Russian native that has vibrant orange-red petals with yellow-orange flames and T. greiggii, ‘Rob Vanderlinden,’ known not only for its brilliant scarlet flowers but for its outstanding foliage, which is mottled and edged in white.

About that yellowing foliage and those seed pods

Another important fact about tulips concerns their foliage. After they are done blooming, their leaves continue to manufacture nutrients that the bulb will need to bloom the next spring. If the foliage is removed before it turns brown naturally, the bulb will generally not have enough stored energy to produce blossoms the next season. It is a good idea, though, to snap- or cut off the seed pods as they begin to form after the blossoms lose their petals. That allows the plant to put all its energy into the bulb instead of into producing seed pods and seeds.

T. sylvestris

is a native North American species in areas indicated on this USDA distribution map. The bulbs in our gardens were brought to my village from Canadian woodlands by my ancestors in the 1860's .

T. vvedenskyi

T. greiggii ‘Rob Vanderlinden’

This tulip is a favorite in our gardens, not only because of its bright scarlet blooms, but because it has decorative foliage that adds interest to the planting. Leaves emerge heavily mottled and edged in white. The mottling fades somewhat as the leaves age. Be sure to click on this photo (and on all the others, too) to enlarge it, so that you can more clearly see the white edging.

One of the reasons that tulip bulbs are so fat and bloom so spectacularly the first year after they’re planted is because bulb growers cut the blossoms off the plants just as they begin to bloom. Like removing the seed pods, this procedure produces a larger bulb. Tulips lose this advantage when we allow them to bloom fully in our gardens which, of course, we want them to do.

Hiding that dying foliage

Several weeks after tulips have stopped blooming, the stem and leaves will begin to yellow and eventually turn brown. Although dying foliage is not aesthetically pleasing, resist the urge to snip it off until it is completely brown.

You can hide the unsightly foliage with a number of different plants. The idea is to plant something that will have enough height and fullness, by the time the tulip leaves turn yellow, to hide them. Annuals work well, but if you like the permanence of perennials, coneflowers, day lilies, monarda and peony varieties work well.

My favorite perennial for this purpose is Painter’s Palette (Persicaria virginiana). It emerges just as the tulips finish blooming and is tall and dense enough in time to hide the ripening tulip leaves and stems. The roots are shallow, so they don’t compete with the bulbs beneath them.

Perhaps this persicaria’s strongest suit is its leaves. They are tricolored, with a V-shaped squiggle of burgundy across the middle.

Although this robust plant does flower in sprays of very tiny red blossoms, it is the leaves that steal the show. And they do so through the whole gardening season. This persicaria does tend to self-sow liberally, so I just pull the seedlings where I don’t want them. I consider it a small price to pay for the benefits this beautiful perennial offers.

How to plant and care for your tulips

  • Tulip bulbs are hardy in zones three through seven and should be planted in mid- to late fall. It is important for the bulb to begin forming roots before the ground freezes solid.
  • Choose a site that receives six to eight hours of sunlight during the spring blooming season.
  • Avoid clay soil. The soil should drain well, otherwise the bulbs will rot.
  • Dry soil during the heat of summer is ideal, as it mimics conditions in areas where tulips are native. Planting annuals or perennials on top of or around bulbs helps to take up soil moisture, keeping the bulbs relatively dry.
  • Plant the bulbs about eight inches deep, measuring from the base of the bulb to the surface of the soil.
  • Plant bulbs in clumps or fill an entire bed, rather than planting singly in rows. You’ll find that the planting looks more natural and fits much better into your whole garden scheme. I generally plant tulips in clumps of five or seven bulbs. Planting fewer bulbs per clump diminishes the floral impact considerably.

Discouraging Varmints

If you have problems with squirrels, chipmunks or voles eating your bulbs, enclose them in small wire- or plastic mesh and then plant the whole thing. Make sure that the soil completely surrounds the bulbs and the mesh so that there are no large air spaces. Tamp the soil a bit with your shoe and water well after planting. The bulb shoots will find their way through the mesh holes and up to the soil surface in the spring.

Lots of other Tulips to choose from

There certainly is nothing wrong with planting any of the many varieties of gorgeous modern tulips available today. I suggest planting species varieties instead as a good way to start your tulip growing experience and to save you quite a bit of effort and expense in the process. Check with your local garden center to see which species tulip bulbs they carry or google the tulip’s name to find online sources.

Non-Species Tulips That Tend to Produce Blossoms a Bit Longer Than One or Two Years

Images for "Some Species Tulips to Try" are courtesy of and are used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. Distribution map is courtesy of USDA. All other photos are copyrighted by the author.

Triumph tulips
'Don Quichotte', 'Golden Melody', 'Kees Nelis' and 'Merry Widow'

Lily-flowered tulips 'Aladdin', 'Ballade', 'Maytime', 'Redshine' and 'White Triumphator'

Darwin hybrid tulips 'Apeldoorn', 'Apeldoorn's Elite', 'Beauty of Apeldoorn', 'Golden Apeldoorn', 'Holland's Glorie', 'Oxford' and 'Striped Apeldoorn'

Single early tulips
'Keizerkroon', 'Christmas Marvel' and 'Couleur Cardinal'

The Fringed tulip variety 'Burgundy Lace' also perennializes well.

Greigii Tulip 'Red Riding Hood'





USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 °C (-40 °F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 °C (-35 °F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

Sun Exposure:


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:


Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

Foliage Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Where to Grow:


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gardeners' Notes:

On May 8, 2010, junebugblack from Gadsden, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

I would rate Tulipa 'Red Riding Hood' neutral at best because the blooms lasted only a brief time. Kaufmanniana and greigii tulips are supposed to be some of the better tulips for the South, so I ordered 'Shakespeare', 'Red Riding Hood', 'Little Beauty', and 'Hearts Delight'. Of these four, 'Shakespeare' was by far the most showy and had very long-lasting brilliant red blooms. At the end of the blooming period, I actually pulled the others up and put them in the compost pile. I will order more 'Shapespeare', but must wait another year or two to see if they really do come back and bloom year after year in north Alabama.

On Jan 19, 2008, saya from Heerlen,
Netherlands (Zone 8b) wrote:

AKA Roodkapje. Hybridized by Hybrida. Introduced in 1953.

On Apr 18, 2006, TBGDN from (Zone 5a) wrote:

A short tulip reaching only 8-10" here. Very bright red blooms stand out in the mixed perennial bed. Foliage is attractive with burgundy/purple mottling. Hardy! Tolerates partial shade, requires little care.

On Apr 15, 2006, ineedacupoftea from Denver, CO wrote:

A nice heirloom-style tulip with classic greigii form. Rich red flowers with inner patterns bloom in mid to late spring on short stems and mottled foliage. A good perennializable tulip that can grow at the very front of a border wthout interfering.

Watch the video: Propagating tulip seeds