When most envision their spring garden, they picture bright colors that epitomize the season. However, some avid gardeners prefer a darker, elegant vibe reminiscent of Halloween and nightfall.
Tulips are a versatile, easy-to-care-for bloom with a wide variety of colors— including stunning shades of black. Here are some spectacular black tulips for your goth garden.
The History of Black Tulips
Black tulips are not naturally occurring. However, horticulturists worked for decades to create a true black tulip, inspired by novelist Alexander Dumas’s 1850 masterpiece, The Black Tulip.
The novel is set in the Netherlands during the 17th century. The story revolves around a quest for a unique black tulip, a flower that represents great wealth and fame.
As the narrative progresses, the novel interweaves themes of love, loyalty, betrayal, and also ambition. It delves into the tulip mania, a period in Dutch history when tulip bulbs were highly sought-after commodities, and explores the lengths people would go to in pursuit of wealth and recognition.
It’s no wonder that this piece of literature became such a driving force for horticulturists of the era.
Many horticulturists have gotten close to developing true black tulips. All of the species listed here are considered black tulips but are notably deep shades of inky purple in the sun.
Horticulturist Geert Hageman is attributed with creating the world’s darkest tulip in 1986— the ‘Paul Scherer.’ To date, this is still considered the blackest tulip, with its purple notes only visible in certain lights. The quest continues for a truly black tulip.
Today, this mysterious bloom still represents wealth, power, and strength.
With that simple distinction in mind, here are some of the best types of “black” tulips.
Queen of Night
Botanical Name: Tulipa ‘Queen of Night’
‘Queen of Night’ is a fitting name for this captivating beauty that commands attention in any garden. With its velvety, deep purple petals, this regal tulip exudes an air of mystery and allure.
According to the Amsterdam Tulip Museum, tulip breeder JJ Grullemans presented this enchanting black bloom in 1944 in a quest to produce a true black tulip. While its petals are notably purple in bright sunlight, it’s still classified as a black tulip.
Queen of Night stands tall on its strong, slender stem, reaching up to 24 inches in height with a 6-inch spread. In addition, this tulip thrives in full sunlight and well-draining soil in USDA zones 3-8.
Botanical Name: Tulipa ‘Paul Scherer’
Paul Scherer is the blackest tulip available. As mentioned before, it’s held the title of darkest tulip for over 30 years with no competitors in sight.
With petals as rich as the midnight sky, this dramatic bloom boasts deep shades of inky purple bordering on black. This late-season bloomer has goblet-shaped petals with a contrasting white that pops like a star in the night sky.
Despite its dark nature, Paul Scherer thrives in full sun and well-draining soil. With proper care, it will grow up to 18 inches tall. Plant this dark beauty in USDA zones 3-7.
Botanical Name: Tulipa ‘Black Parrot’
Introducing the enchanting Tulipa ‘Black Parrot.’ This extraordinary parrot tulip boasts sumptuous, velvety petals in burgundy and black shades reminiscent of a moonlit night sky. With its elegantly ruffled edges and intriguing form, this captivating beauty exudes an air of both elegance and mystery.
Parrot tulips are a mesmerizing variety of tulips known for their extravagant and flamboyant petals, resembling the vibrant feathers of a tropical parrot. These tulips showcase large, fringed, and ruffled blooms in striking colors.
This late-season bloomer grows in USDA zones 3-8, reaching a height of 24 inches with a 4-inch spread. Plant this parrot tulip in full sunlight and well-draining soil.
Botanical Name: Tulipa ‘Black Beauty’
Tulipa ‘Black Beauty’ is a mesmerizing flower. Its velvety, deep maroon petals are rich and shimmer under the sunlight.
M. van Waveren introduced this cultivar in 1955 as a follow-up to the Queen of Night in the quest for a true black tulip. Unfortunately, it’s often misclassified or overshadowed by the Queen of Night’s notoriety.
Plant this single late tulip in full sun and well-draining soil. This plant grows from 18-26 inches, depending on its care and surroundings. Grow in USDA zones 3-8.
Botanical Name: Tulipa ‘Black Hero’
Tulipa ‘Black Hero’ is a striking marvel that adds a dramatic element to the garden. The fully double, velvety black blossoms are luxe with rich, deep purple tones. Each petal unfurls in layers, making this double late tulip a hero befitting of its name.
Black Hero is one of the few double black tulips, making it a unique addition to the garden. Plant in full sun and well-draining soil to encourage growth. The Black Hero reaches 24 inches tall with a 4-inch spread in USDA zones 3-8.
Botanical Name: Tulipa ‘Black Diamond’
The Black Diamond tulip stands apart from the other black tulips on this list, with stronger notes of red and brown than purple. Its petals form a classic cup-shaped bloom with a slight flare at the edges, creating an elegant and graceful silhouette.
The color of this tulip is truly remarkable, as it boasts a deep, velvety black hue with deep edges contrasting the deep maroon tint. This single early tulip grows up to 20 inches tall, its petals remaining closed and compact.
Like most tulips, the Black Diamond does well in full sun, loose soil, and USDA zones 3-8.
Botanical Name: Tulipa ‘Black Jack’
The Black Jack tulip’s coloration of this tulip is stunning, with a bewitching blend of deep burgundy and vibrant shades of purple. Like the Black Diamond, it has more red and brown notes than the typical purple highlights of other black tulips.
With proper care, this single-stem tulip will grow 20-24 inches tall, blooming in late April or early May in USDA zones 3-8 (the warmer, the better). Plant Black Jack in fertile, well-draining soil with full sun exposure.
Botanical Name: Tulipa ‘Black Swan’
The Black Swan is named for its resemblance in color and shape to a swan’s plume. The bowl-shaped petals of this deep purple flower shimmer in the sun with a silky appearance.
This single tulip grows to an eye-catching 34-36 inches with proper care. Its long stem is ideal for cut flower arrangements. Unlike most other tulips, the Black Swan does best in USDA zones 5-7. It’s considered a late-season bloomer.
The Black Swan prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade. Well-draining soil is a must to prevent overwatering.
Vincent van Gogh
Botanical Name: Tulipa ‘Vincent van Gogh’
Named for the world-renowned artist, the Vincent Van Gogh tulip is a masterpiece. Its petals are gently cupped, creating a beautiful rounded silhouette. The petals’ frilled, lacy edges set it apart from other black tulips on this list, and the vibrant deep purple shade fades to a deeper black around the edges.
This late bloomer grows up to 16 inches tall. It thrives in full sun but will tolerate partial shade in USDA zones 3-8. Plant in well-draining soil to prevent root rot and pest invasions.
Botanical Name: Tulipa ‘Continental’
Also known as the Triumph Continental Tulip, this Triumph cultivar boasts the features that make this type of tulip so desirable: easy to care for, a wide range of colors, and long-lasting blooms.
The Continental could almost be classified as a red tulip. Its deep, inky edges surround a dusty maroon shade that shimmers in the sun. This tulip will grow no more than 18 inches tall and blooms in mid to late spring.
Plant the Continental tulip in full sun or partial shade with well-draining soil, and enjoy its long-lasting blooms for weeks to come.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © rob3rt82/Shutterstock.com
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