11 Stunning Tulips to Grow in Kentucky

Written by Heather Hall
Published: February 21, 2023
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Spring is a great time in Kentucky, and the blooming of crocuses, daffodils, and red tulips are all signs that it’s here. Many types of spring-blooming flower bulbs can be planted in the fall. Generally, these bulbs will bloom well in their first year, but some home gardeners want them to return yearly. Here are some of our favorite varieties of tulips that grow well year after year in Kentucky.

Types of Tulips to Grow in Kentucky

In Kentucky, a variety of spring-blooming bulbs can be planted in gardens. More than 100 different species and cultivars do well in this area. When choosing bulbs for your garden, consider the bloom timing, color, and height.

1. ‘White Marvel Single Early’ Tulip

White Marvel Single Early Tulip

Plant ‘White Marvel Single Early’ tulips near pathways, perennial borders, or containers.

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This tulip symbolizes grace and beauty. Its ivory buds open to reveal pristine white petals that shimmer in the mid-spring garden. Its strong 18″ stems make it ideal for arranging in mixed bouquets. Plant it near pathways, perennial borders, or containers to bring a springtime feel to porches and decks.

2. ‘Monte Orange Double Early’ Tulip

Monte Orange Double Early Tulips

Monte Orange Double Early tulips have a gorgeous melon color.

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The melon color of these tulips is stunning. Each petal is trimmed in ruffles in varying shades of orange. It looks a lot like a peony with a double row of petals. It also smells good! You can’t go wrong with 6-inch wide flowers filling your vases, beds, and borders.

3. ‘Peppermint Stick Botanical’ Tulip

'Peppermint Stick Botanical' Tulip

This tulip resembles a candy cane with lovely cherry and white stripes.

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This tulip is aptly named; it resembles a candy cane with lovely cherry and white stripes. The flowers close up at night or in cloudy weather but are open and cheerful in the sun. This is a small tulip with upright leaves and stems that grow to 12 inches tall. It is a good choice for naturalizing and will spread into larger bunches every year.

4. ‘Abu Hassan Triumph’ Tulip

Abu Hassan Triumph Tulips

Abu Hassan Triumph tulips bloom in mid to late spring.

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This tulip blooms from mid to late spring and has cup-shaped flowers that are deep red and burgundy on the outside. Each petal is trimmed in gold for a stunning contrast. This variety is very sturdy and can hold up to a Kentucky storm. This tulip grows 18 inches tall and makes an excellent cut flower for indoor displays.

5. ‘Apeldoorn Darwin Hybrid’ Tulip

Tulipa Apeldoorn Elite. a Darwin hybrid tulip variety

This tulip has bright red petals, each measuring 5 inches.

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This tulip is highly praised by gardening experts. It is known to be one of the greatest red-stemmed tulips for a garden and is especially stunning when planted in large groups. The bright red petals, each measuring 5 inches, are set off by a hint of black at the base. It will grow to a height of two feet.

6. ‘Queen of the Night Single Late’ Tulip

Dark purple Queen of Night tulips in bloom

‘Queen of Night Single Late’ tulips can grow as tall as 30 inches.

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This tulip is a gorgeous dark purple that looks almost black. Late-blooming tulips are some of the tallest, featuring oval-shaped petals representing eternal love and joy. They can grow as tall as 30 inches and start blossoming in May.

7. ‘Elegant Lady Lily-Flowered’ Tulip

Elegant Lady Tulips

Beautiful petals curving inward then outward adorn the Elegant Lady lily-flowered tulip.

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As the season progresses and the weather warms up, this graceful tulip starts to show its beauty. Its creamy orange and pink lily flowering petals are captivating and add elegance to the garden. It is one of the most graceful tulips swaying in the spring breeze.

What creates the alluring look of this tulip? Its individual petals are shaped to curve gracefully inwards and then outwards, almost resembling a woman dressed for a special occasion. This tulip is sure to make a statement in Kentucky.

8. ‘Anfield Fringe’ Tulip

Red Fringe Tulips

Fringe tulips have spiky tips on their petals, making them unique even amongst other tulips.

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This vibrant tulip is raspberry, and its petals have slightly lighter, spiky tips that give it a peculiar look. Its fringed edges make it stand out when in a vase. It has big, double 6-inch flowers that can liven up a garden or be used as cut flowers. They are fully grown and reach 12 inches in height and will get people’s attention wherever they are planted.

9. ‘Orange Marmalade Viridiflora’ Tulip

This vibrant variety of tulips is a bright orange shade with thick green stripes that stay vivid even when in bloom. These tulips have a light green hue on their delicate petals, giving them a magical look. These tulips are on the late side when it comes to blooming and can grow up to 22 inches tall. They are great for garden designs and cut flower arrangements and will bloom in May.

10. ‘Helmar Rembrandt’ Tulip

Helmar Rembrandt Tulips

The vibrant yellow and maroon shades distinguish the Helmar Rembrandt tulip.

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It is unnecessary to settle for one color per blossom to achieve the classic tulip egg shape. This tulip defies convention by having a vibrant combination of yellow and maroon. These two colors create a striking contrast, making the traditional tulip shape stand out. Additionally, its strong and sturdy stem makes it an excellent option for cutting flowers. These flowers will be sure to draw the attention of anyone who comes to visit.

11. ‘Rainbow Parrot’ Tulip

Rainbow Parrot Tulips

With ranges of colors from pink and purple to yellow and orange, Rainbow Parrot tulips enhance any garden of which they’re a part.

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This tulip is a showstopper in any garden, boasting a range of colors from purple to pink. With petals resembling exotic feathers, this unique flower blooms in April and May, reaching a height of 16 inches. Parrot tulips are known for their exotic petals in incredible patterns. Be careful; you might be tempted to collect them all!

Origin of the Tulip

The beginnings of the tulip can be traced back to Asia — mainly Iran and Afghanistan. This flower is also indigenous to North Africa and parts of Southern Europe. For successful growth, they need cold nights and cold winters. The tulip eventually reached Turkey, where it was given the Latin name tulipa, derived from the local word for turban.

Where to Plant Them

When planting tulips in Kentucky, it is important to find a well-drained site. An existing garden or bed or newly cultivated area is suitable. The soil should have a pH of 6-7 and not be too heavy and clay-like. If necessary, amend the soil with compost or other organic matter. Additionally, it is best to find a location that does not get full sunlight during the hottest part of the day, as this will help the flowers last longer and allow the bulbs to grow fully after flowering.

When growing tulips, it is best to plant them in mulched beds. Planting them in groups will create a mass of color and make them more visible. For small bulbs, at least a dozen should be planted together, while 5-6 is enough for large bulbs. To ensure the bulbs last longer and can come back each year, plant them in an area that does not need mowing, such as a wildflower meadow. Tulips can also be used in rock gardens or planted around trees.

Tulip Spring Care

Once the tulip foliage appears in the spring, spread 10-10-10 (N-P-K) fertilizer across the area. When the petals have faded or dropped off, cut the flowers off with scissors or a knife. Allow the leaves to wither away naturally, as it is necessary for the bulbs to mature properly. If the sight of gangly tulip leaves drives you crazy, you can braid the leaves to tidy up your garden. You can also plant them behind deciduous shrubs. When the leaves of the shrubs grow in, the faded tulips will be hidden from view.

When late flowering bulbs are planted in lawn grass, the foliage is not ready to be mowed down when the grass is ready for a trim. It is better to plant earlier blooming bulbs in grassy areas that do require mowing. Crocus, early daffodils, and snowdrops work well on lawns. If the bulbs flowered in the spring, do not bother them. If you must mow, you can dig up the tulips after the foliage has withered and turned yellow. Store the bulbs in a dry area with plenty of air circulation until fall planting time.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sergey V Kalyakin/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

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