Double Tulips: Why Your Garden Needs These Breathtaking Flowers

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A close up of dark pink Monte Carlo double tulips in a field.

Monte Carlo tulips in bloom

Have you ever heard of double tulips? No? Neither had I until very recently. But I am super happy to have discovered this breath-taking variety of tulip. Lately, I’ve started to think about getting some flowers for my garden. I’d really like to add some colour and excitement to what is currently a very low-maintenance and functional space.

Back in lockdown two, or was it lockdown three? Can anyone even remember how many lockdowns there were? It all feels like a surreal dream now, doesn’t it? Anyway, during one of the lockdowns, my husband built a pair of huge planters in our garden at the end of the deck. The idea was to plant them full of either vegetables or flowers.

My husband wants to grow vegetables, but I just know we don’t have the time or patience for that (we tried during the lockdowns and it was not very successful). So I’m leaning towards flowers and I’ve even started to research which ones I think could work well for us.

We’d need something super low-maintenance, that doesn’t require a lot of care from me. You all know my track record with plants so it’s safe to assume that I will need to adopt the same strategy with flowers. I need something that will basically take care of itself and preferably something that will come back year after year without too much intervention from me.

A hand holding a large red tulip flower

The tulips in the community garden in Totnes in full bloom

Lately, I have been thinking about tulips. It started when the tulips in the small community garden across the road from my coworking space started to bloom. The garden became a riot of colour (as you can see in this reel I made for Instagram) and I found myself often sitting on the bench just to admire these beautifully bold flowers, which I knew practically nothing about.

Just looking at them made me feel so much lighter and happier so I decided to do some reach and work out if there was any chance that I would be able to have tulips in our garden. It was also around this time that I received an email from Dutch Grown all about double tulips, which I hadn’t heard of. But as soon as I saw the pictures I was smitten and I knew that these show-stopping tulips were for me.

So let’s take a little look at some of the questions I had about this beautiful variety and what I learned along the way.

What are double tulips?

A bunch of white Snow Crystal double tulips

Snow Crystal tulips

Unlike the iconic image of a tulip with six large petals that we are all so accustomed to seeing, double tulips have extra layers of petals which gives them a very different look. They have large, long-lasting, peony-like flowers that can appear fluffy and ruffled, or dense and demure.

Just like regular tulips, double tulips come in a wide range of colours, from soft pinks to vibrant oranges to deep purples. Unlike regular tulips, double tulips are quite large, with stems that can reach up to 20” and blooms that easily measure 4” across.

When to plant tulip bulbs?

When the nights are getting colder and there’s a hint of pumpkin spice in the air, it’s time to get out the gardening gear. Like all tulips, double tulips need to be planted in autumn. In the UK, it is recommended that you plant your bulbs in October and November. However, you can get away with doing this as late as December or January and still have them bloom in spring.

Where to plant tulip bulbs?

Left: Monte Carlo tulips | Right: Orange Princess tulips

Double tulips should be planted in a sunny, sheltered spot where they will be protected from wind and rain. As with all flower bulbs, you need to make sure that the soil is well-draining. Dig a hole that’s three times as deep as the bulbs, ideally 10-15cms deep, then cover with soil and water well. Double tulips look best in groups of at least 10-15 tulips but make sure you plant each bulb 10-15cms apart.

Are double tulips perennials?

Some tulip bulbs only bloom for one year (annuals), while others come back every year (perennials). Unfortunately, double tulips are not perennials, meaning you’ll have to plant new ones every year. But that does have its advantages since it means that every year you get to choose another combination of old favourites and exciting newcomers from the large collection of double tulips.

When do double tulips bloom?

Left: Orange Princess tulips | Right: Blue Wow tulips

Double tulips are planted in autumn and generally need 8 to 16 weeks before they start to sprout. A flowering plant will then appear within 15 to 30 days. Tulips don’t tend to bloom for very long sadly and this too depends on the conditions. If they have had a cool spring they can bloom for 1-2 weeks, but if it’s been quite warm, the flowers may only last a few days.

You can prolong the bloom of tulips but choosing varieties that bloom at different times and this way you can get a good few weeks of flowers before they die. Some double tulips bloom early in spring, while others are late bloomers so by choosing a variety of double tulip bulbs you can really stretch the flowing period.

What to do once the tulips die?

Tulips generally bloom from March to May and once they have flowered they will die off. As soon as the flower has dropped all its petals, the seed pod has turned brown and the foliage has started to die back and turned brown then you should prune your tulips back.

Once the double tulips have died, you will, unfortunately, need to plant more bulbs if you want to see the flowers return next year.

Abba tulips

Where can you buy double tulips?

If you believe that more is more and you would like your spring garden to reflect that, DutchGrown is the perfect place to buy your double tulips. Their top-size bulbs, grown in prime Dutch soil guarantee a late spring show like no other. A few clicks on their website and your order is placed. They’ll make sure, your flower bulbs will arrive at the correct planting time in autumn.

So it’s easy to see why your garden needs these breathtaking flowers. They may not be in bloom for long but when they are they add drama, colour and a sense of celebration to the garden.

What do you think? Have you ever planted double tulips in your garden? If not, would you give it a go? Let me know in the comments.

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