10 best tulips for repeat flowering

Tulipa sylvestris

This golden scented species tulip is one of the more reliable spreaders. Its wild origins mean it's smaller, but much tougher than the overbred cultivars and has a reputation for being easy to grow. It does well in most conditions, so you can plant into sunny borders and grassy areas for a natural look.

Tulip turkestanica

This is a classic species tulip that lasts decades, spreading gradually in sharply drained borders or grassy areas in a sunny spot. The white and yellow blooms are very open and starry, rather than the goblet shape we think of as typical of tulips. Carried on short stems around 20-30cm tall, this makes a spectacle in early spring when they appear en masse and the seed pods that follow are also very distinctive. Plant with early flowering narcissus for a mixed perennial meadow look.

Tulipa ‘Ballerina’

A tried and tested cultivar, the bright orange and red fluted flowers appear first in April, continuing through to May. Tall and elegant, they are great for cutting but look good combined in pots and borders with darker colours. Although a good choice for perennial planting, the quality of the blooms might fade over the years, so it is worth adding new bulbs from time to time.

Tulipa clusiana

This diminutive species, known as the lady tulip, is an easy-growing variety, with distinctive two-tone colouring featuring pale white centres, usually with red outer petals. There are different cultivars, from pink and white ‘Peppermintstick’ and ‘Cynthia’, to an orange and red variation in chrysantha. No more than 30cm tall, these fantastic jewel-like blooms look great in pots and also in sunny, grassy areas edging borders and paths. They will spread and self-seed over the years.

Tulipa ‘Spring Green’

This is a classic cultivar, sublimely elegant, from the viridiflora group, which is one of the most reliable cultivated groups for perennialising. With a distinctive green stripe on the pure white outer petals, it looks great planted in drifts as a large single-coloured swathe, or mixed with classic white or paler coloured late flowering pheasant's eye, Narcissus poeticus.

Tulipa ‘Orange marmalade’

This is a newcomer in warm shades of orange and mango, with a strong green stripe that declares its membership of the viridiflora group so it’s another reliable returner. A more vibrant shade than ‘Artist’, it’s great for combining with contrasting darker tulips such as purple ‘Negrita’ or ‘Queen of Night’.

Tulipa 'Groenland'

Here's another green-flushed tulip that will reliably return for up to five years. It also has a long flowering season and is good for sun or shadier spots. Plant into well-drained soil with added grit, although it has a reputation for good resistance against wet winter weather.

Tulipa 'Artist'

With flowers on slightly shorter stems, this is a good choice if you’re looking to fill a more exposed spot in the garden as they won’t get blown about so easily. Plant in large drifts of 10-15 bulbs to get maximum impact from the colouring, which starts out orange and fades to a more peachy tone. Petals are marked by the distinctive viridiflora stripe.

Tulipa hageri 'Little Beauty'

This is a short-stemmed tulip with open flowers that allow you to peek into the centres which are dark, and invite you to experience the delicious scent up close. It’s an early flowering variety, with blooms appearing in March. It looks great in low, wide containers, but equally works in the ground – plant along borders that edge paths or in gravel gardens. Over the years, if grown in well-drained soil, it will form a long-lasting colony.

Tulipa acuminata

This is one for the more experienced grower, but it's worth the additional care and attention. Also known as the horned tulip for its pointed, elongated petals, it's beautifully delicate and ethereal. This is a perennial species bulb, but quite a rare sight as it depends on quite specific growing conditions to guarantee its annual return. The key is good drainage – prolonged rain and wet conditions will cause rotting. It can be grown in pots and also in well drained grassy areas.

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