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The motto of many wild tulip lovers is "Back to the roots". As huge and varied as the range of garden tulips is - with its original charm, the wild tulips are conquering more and more gardener's hearts. Most of the ancestors of our modern garden tulips are native to the vast steppe and mountain regions of Central Asia.
Life there is characterized by strong contrasts: in winter it is bitterly cold and in summer hot and dry. A dense snow cover protects the vegetation from the winter cold. In the spring, the first rays of the sun melt the snow, the wild tulips sprout out of the ground and bloom together with other bulbs such as irises and lilies. They only have the short continental spring to flower and seed.
Wild tulips for the garden
If you want to cultivate wild tulips, give them a warm, sunny spot with well-drained soil. Ideal conditions are offered by a sunny rock garden. At the natural site, water and minerals are available in almost unlimited quantities to the plants during the snowmelt. So that the wild tulips in the garden quickly expel, grow and bloom, it is advisable to water the plants before and during flowering. In order for the bulbs to mature well, the dry period should begin about 20 days after flowering. Humidity hardly tolerates most wild tulips after flowering.
The natural range of the 15 to 20 cm high Wilson tulip (Tulipa wilsoniana) extends from northern Iran to Turkmenistan. Her deep crimson flowers appear in May
While the bulbs of the garden tulips are brought into the soil each year in autumn and removed after flowering, the wild tulips can stand in the same location for years. The little beauties multiply over brood bulbs and seeds. Some species are therefore also good for Verwildern. If they become too dense, they should be picked up and shared. Also, the propagation by sowing works, but it is a game of patience: As soon as the foliage is completely yellowed and the capsules open from the top, the seed is ripe. Sausage is done in shells with sandy soil, which must be kept well moist. It usually takes at least four years to flower first.
The wild lady's tulip (Tulipa clusiana, left) and the variety 'Tubergen's Gem' (right)
The ladies' tulip looks particularly noble with its narrow, upright flowers. It was introduced to Europe around 1800 and is originally from Central Asia. Her name patron is the Dutch scientist Carolus Clusius. The flowers of the ladies tulips carry three pink outer petals, the rest are white. Although the plant is very filigree, it is about 30 inches high and is one of the largest wild tulips. In the sun, the petals arch outward in a star shape - then their purple basal spot becomes visible. The ideal location for the graceful greenhouse is a sunny rock garden with permeable, gravelly soil. Here the lady's tulip is very durable and even spreads slowly through short, subterranean foothills. A very popular breeding of lady's tulip with similar characteristics is the variety 'Tubergen's Gem'. It has pink and yellow petals.
Low tulip (Tulipa humilis)
Low tulip 'Alba Coerulea Oculeta' (left) and 'Tète à Tète' (right)
The low tulip (Tulipa humilis) gets its name right - it only grows ten centimeters high. It has narrow leaves that rest on the ground and only start to grow properly after flowering. The flower color is variable, inside purple pink, pale pink or white, the outer leaves are white with purple or brown stripes. The low tulip is relatively easy to cultivate. However, it should not be kept too moist in the spring, otherwise the onions will not form new buds and next year the plants will only drive green leaves. A popular and fairly common strain of low tulip is 'Alba Coerula oculata' with white, star-shaped flowers and steel-blue center and slight scent. Still relatively new is the variety 'Tète à Tète' with red flowers.
The multi-flowered tulip 'Füsilier' (Tulipa praestans, left) and the variety 'Shogun' (right)
The multi-flowered tulip (Tulipa praestans) is 25 centimeters high and is probably the best known multi-flowered tulip species. The bright red variety 'Füselier' is an old, very well-tried selection of the wild form and always carries three flowers on one stem. It is considered the best variety of Tulipa praestans, feels well in the sun and prefers permeable soils.For sunny beds, rockeries or steppe plantings, it is ideal. In addition, it is one of the few tulips that is also suitable in a normal, not too damp flowerbed for Verwildern. The variety 'shogun' is a new breed and blooms in a warm apricot tangerine.
Leinblättrige tulip (Tulipa linifolia, left) and and the variety 'Bright Gem'
The tulip-leaved tulip (Tulipa linifolia) flowers as one of the last wild tulips in May. It was first described in 1884. It is located in Central Asia, especially in Tajikistan on the banks of the river Wachsch and in northern Iran and Afghanistan. Their leaves form a rosette on the ground, the flower is silky red and has a black basal spot with mostly white hem. In full sun, the petals of the only ten centimeters high wild tulip arch characteristic downwards. The variety 'Bright Gem' produces three to five short-stemmed sulfur yellow, orange-colored flowers from each onion. This particularly long-lived and robust breeding is very well suited for semi-shady rockeries with well-drained soil.
Eichler's tulip (Tulipa eichleri, left) and rock tulip (Tulipa saxtalilis, right)
The heyday of Eichler's tulip (Tulipa eichleri) begins in mid-May. It has deep crimson, very large, in the sun completely opening flowers with yellowish stripes on the outer petals. The tips of the petals are slightly curled. In their homeland, the southeastern Transcaucasus and northwestern Iran, the wild tulip grows on dry slopes. In the garden, it prefers a sunny spot and rich, well-drained soil. If you meet these conditions, it increases well.
The rock tulip (Tulipa saxatilis) reaches a height of 20 centimeters and has a long tradition among the European tulip gardeners. The flowers are usually solitary, rarely as a pair on the stem. To get to bloom, rock tulips need the summer heat. They should therefore be planted in a very warm place deep in good soil. After flowering, dig them and store them dry in a greenhouse. The warmer the summer, the greater the likelihood that it will bloom again next year.
Vineyard tulip (Tulipa sylvestris, left) and Tarda tulip (Tulipa tarda, right)
The original home of the vineyard tulip (Tulipa sylvestris), also called forest tulip, can no longer be determined today. Meanwhile, it is widespread in Europe, West Anatolia, North Africa, Central Asia and Siberia. There it grows wild in meadows, at forest edges, in vineyards, parks and fields. It tolerates partial shade, but is often not very willing to flower. Propagation takes place via lush foothills. In forests and vineyards, this approximately 30 centimeters high tulip species sometimes proliferates like weeds. In the sun, the flowers begin to smell like violets.
The Tarda tulip (Tulipa tarda) is also called dwarf star tulip and is one of the most popular wild tulips. The ten-centimeter high onion flower carries three to eight flowers on a stalk. Their closed brownish, purple overflowing buds are hardly noticeable. In the sun, however, the white flowers are open in a star shape and show their bright yellow center. The flowers exude a tart, very pleasant scent. The Tarda tulip is amazingly robust, very flowering and shows a fairly high tolerance to humid soils. Flowering time is the end of April and May, the flowers often last a month.
Gnome tulip (Tulipa turkestanica, left) and multicolored tulip (Tulipa polychroma, right)
The gnome tulip (Tulipa turkestanica), which already flourished in March, is a petite, attractive and uncomplicated wild tulip. It forms in the rock garden easily and quickly by Verwilderung larger stocks. The Gnome Tulip carries up to eight ivory-colored flowers per stem, the outer sides are drawn greenish violet.
The bud of the also only ten centimeters high multicolored tulip (Tulipa polychroma) turns, as soon as it drives out, and opens to a spreading, cup-shaped matte white bloom. A closer look reveals a gray-greenish-violet tinted exterior and a yellow center. But this is visible only in sunshine. With its sweet, fruity fragrance it surpasses all other wild tulips. Sometimes a stem also produces two flowers. The species occasionally forms foothills. Flowering time is in March, partly in April. The multicolored tulip occurs in Iran and Afghanistan. There it grows at altitudes of around 3000 meters on plateaus and on stony slopes.