3 Tulips That Flourish in Georgia

Written by Mike Edmisten
Updated: March 14, 2023
© Alex Manders/Shutterstock.com
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When we think of Georgia garden flowers, most of us will immediately consider petunias, geraniums, impatiens, and other classics that thrive in those hot Peach State summers. Far fewer will readily imagine growing tulips in Georgia, but this king of spring can, and should, take its rightful place in springtime Georgia flowerbeds.

Georgia’s plant hardiness zones range from Zones 7a-8b (with a very small sliver of northeastern Georgia falling into Zone 6b). Tulips generally thrive in Zones 3-7, so while that does include some of the state, central and southern Georgia residents live outside this window, residing in the warmer Zone 8. 

But it is still possible for Georgians to enjoy a spring bed of tulips, from the Tennessee/Georgia border, to Atlanta, all the way down to Valdosta. 

French single late tulips come in a rainbow of colors, including orange and pink.
A field filled with orange and pink French single late tulips


Get to Know the Tulip

The Tulipa genus includes around 150 species with over 3,000 cultivars. They are divided into 15 different classifications based on shape, height, and when they bloom. 

Tulip Facts
Botanical nameTulipa spp.
Common NameTulip
Plant TypePerennial, bulb
SoilRich, well-drained
Bloom SeasonSpring
ToxicityToxic to both humans and pets


There is obviously a wide variety of tulips to choose from, but which ones are best for the warmer climates of Georgia? 

Here are three tulip options to consider for your next springtime garden in the Peach State.

1. Banja Luka

A member of the Darwin Hybrid group, the Banja Luka features huge, showy blooms of yellow painted with deep orange-red.

Darwin hybrid tulips are pretty popular, not only because of their gorgeous blooms but also their plant hardiness. 

Ideal growing zones for Darwin Hybrids, such as the Banja Luka, are Zones 3-8. This includes much of the state of Georgia. While almost all tulips are easier to grow in colder climates, this group can take the heat better than most.

Along with the Banja Luka, there are other Darwin hybrid varieties to consider for Georgia gardens, such as Apeldoorn, Golden Apeldoorn, Pink Impression, Daydream, and Big Chief.

Blooming red and yellow Banja Luka tulips
Blooming red and yellow Banja Luka tulips.

©Liviu Gherman/Shutterstock.com

2. Annie Schilder

The Tulip Annie Schilder is part of the Triumph Tulip group. Triumphs are a hybridized group, crossing single early tulips with some later blooming varieties.

This tulip has a sturdy stem, similar to most others in the Triumph group. This allows it to stand up against those strong Georgia springtime storms.

It is rated up to Zone 8, which makes it a good choice for residents throughout the state.

Some other Triumphs to consider for Georgia planting include the Don Quichotte, Alibi, Negrita, and Muvota varieties. 

Variegated orange Annie Schilder tulips in a garden
Variegated orange Annie Schilder tulips in a garden.

©Sergey V Kalyakin/Shutterstock.com

3. La Courtine

The La Courtine is part of the Single Late group of tulips, which bloom later in the spring. It features golden yellow blooms with accents of red. 

Perhaps the best part for gardeners in the southern US, the La Courtine, is recommended for zones up to 8b. This includes even the southernmost parts of Georgia.

Other single late tulips that grow well in the Peach State include the Queen of Night, El Nino, Menton, French, and Pink Diamond varieties. 

La Courtine tulips with yellow and red blooms
La Courtine tulips with yellow and red blooms.

©Liviu Gherman/Shutterstock.com

Planting Tips

Now that you have different varieties on your radar, let’s talk about some best practices to get the most out of your tulip garden next spring.

Bulb selection

Bulb selection is where it all begins. All tulip bulbs are not created equal. If you plant poor-quality bulbs in the fall, you will grow poor-quality flowers in the spring.

Look for large, healthy-looking bulbs. Larger bulbs have greater storage of nutrients to feed the flower as it grows. Tulips grown in warmer climates are facing a tougher challenge than those grown in cooler zones, so it’s critical that they have as many nutrients stored up as possible.

Skip bulbs that are squishy or moldy, or display spots, streaks, or cracks. A healthy tulip bulb will be dry and firm with no discolorations.

Healthy tulip bulbs are large and free of discoloration.
Healthy tulip bulbs that are large and free of discoloration

©Natallia Ustsinava/Shutterstock.com

Chilling Tulip Bulbs

This is where it can become more complicated. Do you need to chill your tulip bulbs before planting?

Tulips are hardy bulbs. They need a cold stratification period to emerge from dormancy and begin to grow. This needed cold period lasts for at least a couple of months. Without it, the blooms will be malformed or non-existent. The plant may not even grow at all.

This is a problem for gardeners in warmer hardiness zones, as the soil might not dip to the necessary temperatures for this biochemical response to take place. And even if the soil temperature does drop below the desired 45°F, it may not remain there long enough for the tulip bulbs to break dormancy.

The answer to this problem is to pre-chill the bulbs in a refrigerator prior to planting. This is recommended for Zones 8 and above.

Residents in the northern half of Georgia can normally skip this step and plant their bulbs directly in the ground (we’ll talk about when to do that in a minute).

But for central-southern Georgia gardeners, giving your bulbs some chill time before planting can significantly improve your spring display.

If you need to chill tulip bulbs before planting, here are some essential tips to keep in mind.

First of all, make sure there is adequate air circulation. Keep your bulbs in a box or ventilated bag while in the refrigerator. Don’t seal them up in anything that’s airtight. That will cause the bulbs to hold excess moisture, which can lead to bulb rot.

Removing all fruit from the refrigerator before chilling the bulbs is also important. As the fruit ripens, it emits ethylene gas which can harm the embryonic flowers in the bulbs. This is especially true of apples but applies to many other fruits. If possible, use a fridge no with food storage at all.

When to Plant

The best time to plant tulip bulbs varies depending on the hardiness zone.

Ideal conditions for bulb planting are when the soil temperature is below 55°F. Of course, the best practice is to check the soil temperature in your area before planting, but here are some general guidelines.

Residents of the northern half of Georgia can plan to plant bulbs in November (maybe October in the very northernmost part of the state).

Gardeners in the southern half of the state should plant to plant in December, probably after chilling bulbs for several weeks.

Where to Plant

Plant tulip bulbs in a spot that drains well and receives 4-6 hours of sunshine a day. If your planting site holds moisture, the bulbs can rot.

Tulips also respond well to quality fertilizer. Choose a slow-release fertilizer with a nutrient ratio of 9-9-6.

If you prefer an organic option to fertilize your bulls, you can mix equal parts blood mealgreensand, and bone meal

Plant the bulbs, pointed side up, about 8-10 inches deep, and spaced 3-4 inches apart.

When you are choosing a spot to plant bulbs, it’s also important to remember that tulip bulbs contain alkaloid and glycoside compounds that are mildly toxic to humans and moderately toxic to pets.

Gardening gloves are highly recommended when handling bulbs or blooms to prevent “tulip fingers,” a skin rash that is a bane to many tulip growers. 

One final note about planting: tulips are indeed perennials, but it would be best for Georgia growers to simply ignore that. Even under better, cooler conditions, tulips are among the more finicky perennial flowers. The biggest, brightest blooms will almost assuredly grow in the first season, with diminishing returns afterward.

For gardeners in warmer zones, such as Georgia’s, the better option is to forgo any thoughts of perennializing tulips. It simply won’t happen effectively, if it happens at all.

Instead, treat tulips as you would annual flowers. Dig up the bulbs when the growing season ends in late spring or early summer and plant new bulbs in that fall.

Tulip bulbs in a gardener’s gloved hands.

©Natallia Ustsinava/Shutterstock.com

Common Pests

Tulips have their fair share of enemies. Here are some common pests that can damage your tulip garden.


Aphids are a widespread pest throughout the state of Georgia. 

These pests can often be found on the underside of the leaves and, left untreated, can destroy your tulip garden.

One surefire sign of aphids is a large presence of ants. These two insects have a symbiotic relationship. The ants eat the excretion of the aphids (commonly referred to as honeydew), and in return, the ants protect the aphids. 

A few ants here or there are probably not indicative of an aphid problem, but if you see large numbers of ants around your tulips, you likely have an aphid infestation brewing.

But even if your tulips are aphid-infested, all is not lost. There are ways to get rid of them. 

If the infestation is still small, take a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol and apply it directly to the aphids. It will kill the pests without harming your tulips.

For larger infestations, insecticidal soap can be sprayed on the plants. It’s environmentally friendly and quite effective.

If all else fails, a chemical pesticide can be an option. Save that as a last resort, though. Other methods are better for the environment, not to mention safer for you.

Spider Mites

These arachnids are also infamous for the damage they cause to tulip gardens each spring. Yellow or white specks will form on the leaves as these pests suck the juices from the plant. 

Like aphids, insecticidal soap effectively controls spider mite infestations (even though they’re not insects).

Wildlife problems

Wildlife can prove to be an even bigger problem than insects for Georgia gardeners. There are all kinds of critters and varmints that would love to make a meal out of your tulips.

Squirrels love to dig up tulip bulbs in the fall as they stock up for winter. As recommended above, planting at a deeper depth can deter these critters.

Rabbits can be found chewing on tender tulip shoots when they first break through the ground’s surface.

Whitetail deer can also wreak havoc on your tulip gardens and beds. When tulips grow, the deer will pull the plants out of the ground, bulb and all.

To prevent your tulips from becoming rabbit and deer fodder, you may consider using a commercially available repellent. Be sure to read and follow the directions on the product’s label.

Get rid of rabbits
A wild orange rabbit in a fresh green forest.


Final Thoughts

While tulips do indeed favor cooler climates, Georgia gardeners can have a gorgeous spring display each and every year. It just takes a little bit of know-how and maybe a little extra effort. But when you revel in the glory of your home’s spring tulip bloom, you’ll thank yourself for putting in the time!

'Golden Apeldoorn' Darwin hybrid tulips in bloom
Golden Apeldoorn Darwin hybrid tulips in bloom.

©Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock.com

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A field of bright red and yellow triumph tulips
A field of bright red and yellow triumph tulips
© Alex Manders/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

A freelance writer in Cincinnati, OH, Mike is passionate about the natural world. He, his wife, and their two sons love the outdoors, especially camping and exploring US National Parks. A former pastor, he also writes faith-based content to encourage and inspire. And, for reasons inexplicable, Mike allows Cincinnati sports teams to break his heart every year.

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