Have you ever grown botanical tulips? What makes them “botanical” and why should you consider growing them? Let’s start with the basics: why are these tulips called “botanical tulips”?
Botanical vs. Hybrid
The plants we find growing in the wild have bred naturally. They don’t necessarily aim for the same things people would breed plants for such as large flowers or unusual colours. Instead, they are focused on survival.
That doesn’t mean they can’t be pretty. Attracting pollinators means that a plant has to look like it has something to offer an insect, and sometimes, the colours and patterns it evolves naturally are very pleasing to the human eye too.
When people find beautiful plants in their natural habitat and decide to cultivate them, they will experiment with plant breeding to get even more visually exciting results: hence the plethora of hybrid plants available on the market today.
The Advantages of Botanical or Species Types
The botanical tulips are, in fact, the ancestors of all the beautiful tulips you can see on Farmer Gracy’s website. Because botanical tulips had to evolve to survive in natural situations that may, at times, be less than ideal, they are often tougher and easier to grow than hybrids.
It’s not that hybrid tulips are all that difficult, but the striking blooms you see on your hybrids have been encouraged through years of specialized cultivation. After the “big bang” of prime blooms, you may re-flower them if you are lucky, but the blooms will be smaller, fewer and less reliable.
Botanical tulips, on the other hand, require no special arts to encourage their very best blooms. If conditions are favourable, they will settle down happily, bloom every year and produce predictably attractive little flowers.
Early Bloomers are Always Welcome
Not all botanical tulips are particularly attractive, but some of them are real little stunners. They tend to be lower growing with a natural wildflower look, but the best thing about them is their early blooming.
Their compact growth habit makes them less susceptible to treacherous early spring weather so that they won’t need careful site selection and pampering. Whether you plant them in containers to brighten up your patio or choose to dot them about in your garden or rockery for a bright splash of colour, you won’t regret giving these simple but attractive wildflowers a chance.
In any wild plant community, there is a considerable amount of genetic variation. That means you’ll find individual strains with bigger flowers, more flowers or brighter colours than their sisters.
People usually make selections of specific lines when researching the ornamental potential of species-type plants. Selections such as these might be given cultivar names to distinguish them from the norm. However, they remain natural varieties because there has been little human interference in their breeding. Examples from the Farmer Gracy range are “Lady Jane”, “Eastern Star” and “Lilac Wonder”.
A Wide Range of Flower Forms
Plants are classified into families, genera, and species. The genus name of the tulip is “Tulipa.” However, there are many species within that genus, and to the untrained eye, it may be difficult to recognize some of them as tulips at all. Others will reflect the classic flower shape that we recognize as being quintessentially tulip-shaped. This just adds to the fun and diversity.
One of my personal favourite tulips, "Dasystemon Tarda", is among the “I can’t believe it’s a tulip” tulips. It really makes a statement when its star-shaped blooms open, and since these nestle among the foliage, it’s like having a carpet of stars.
Why Plant Botanical Tulips?
We seem to have gone through a wide range of the benefits botanical tulips have to offer, so to draw all our threads together, let’s sum up:
- Tough and able to naturalize
- Reliable blooming and bloom quality
- Low growing and weather resistant
- Versatile as container or bedding plants
- Colourful and diverse range
- Early blooming for colour when you need it most
- Easy to grow
- Natural look
- Compact growth form
- Some unusual flower forms
- Bright colours
Plant Botanical Tulips this Autumn
The best gardeners are always thinking a couple of seasons or years ahead. To get the joyful blooms of botanical tulips in spring, you have to start planning in summer and begin planting in autumn.
This foresight is what will set your garden apart from those of gardeners who only think of blooms when they can see them right before their eyes. For these gardeners, it will be too late for planting when botanical tulips are already flowering, and by autumn, they may have forgotten about them completely.
Since botanical tulips are really garden perennials that keep coming back, you only have to remember your botanical tulips once: this autumn. That’s easy enough, isn’t it? Need a reminder? You can place your order in advance and let Farmer Gracy see to the rest when planting season comes around.