Tulips are the stars of the garden in April and May, with their wide range of colors and sizes; they also are some of the most versatile of ornamental plants.

Tulips are great when used in perennial borders, city gardens, and containers. Since most varieties thrive for only a few years, gardeners should treat tulips as short-lived perennials. However, there are a number of varieties that perform exceptionally well year after year. Tulips grow best in full sun (some will adapt to partial shade) and well-drained soil. They will not tolerate overwatering during their dormancy. Plant the bulbs 6 to 8 inches deep.

Tulips vary in size, height, range, and beauty. Gardeners use tulips to provide spectacular color for the entire spring season by selecting varieties for early, mid-, and late spring.

Typical flowering times for the Chicago area:


early flowering (mid-april)

  • Single early tulips
  • Double early tulips
  • Kaufmanniana
  • Fosteriana tulips
  • Greigii tulips

variable bloom time (mid-april through may)

  • Rembrandt tulips
  • Species tulips
  • Multi-flowering tulips

mid-season flowering (mid-april to early may)

  • Triumph tulips
  • Darwin hybrid tulips

late-season flowering (throughout may)

  • Single late tulips
  • Lily-flowering tulips
  • Fringed tulips
  • Viridiflora tulips
  • Parrot tulips
  • Double late tulips