The parrot tulip is another fancy hybrid, so called because the streaked petals and fringed edges of the flower mimic parrot feathers; examples include ‘Green Wave’ and ‘Black Parrot’. Certain double early varieties, such as ‘Double Price’, and double late varieties, such as ‘Angelique’ and ‘Carnaval de Nice’, produce a plethora of petals, to the point of resembling peonies or roses. Fringed tulips such as ‘Honeymoon’ are admired for their delicate lace-edged petals. And then there is ‘Black Jack’, which looks just like a familiar garden tulip—dipped in black ink.
In cool-climate zones, plant tulips 4 to 8 inches deep and apart in humus-rich, well-draining soil in late fall, for spring and early summer displays of color. Gardeners in the South should use prechilled bulbs and plant them in the spring. Discard any bulbs that have brown splotches or pink or white fungal growth, as this is a sign of basal rot; the flower won’t grow or will be deformed. Squirrels, mice, and chipmunks find tulips delectable. If they become a problem, try covering the planted area with chicken wire so the flowers can grow but the animals can’t reach the bulbs. In spring, a small amount of organic bulb fertilizer can be applied before blossoms appear.
Fancy tulips are wonderful as cut flowers fresh out of the garden. They may flop over in the vase, because they are top-heavy and because tulip stems continue elongating even after cutting. The key is to avoid trying to straighten the stems and embrace the beautifully unusual shape. A little sugar and lime juice in the water will help extend their vase life. Outdoors, fancy tulips can be planted en masse like any other tulip, but small clusters of three or five bulbs interspersed among other ornamentals will make them truly stand out.
For more information, see Find It Here.