How to Grow Parrot Tulips in Gardens

The botanical name of parrot tulips is Tulipa gesneriana var. dracontia. This cultivated variety has cup-shaped flowers with ruffled, fringed, twisted, and curled petals. These flowers also feature a fantastic combination of vivid colors. In fact, these colorful flowers bear a resemblance to the feathers of a tropical parrot.

This article focuses on parrot tulips, their propagation, caring, varieties, and uses.

Some enthusiasts believe, this variety to be indigenous to France. Later, it spread to the Netherlands during the Eighteenth Century. The European gardeners, particularly from the Netherlands, prize this variety for its uniqueness. They also trade it with large beneficial margins. Hence, this variety gained high commercial value.

Characteristics of Parrot Tulips

Generally, the different varieties of parrot tulips sprout out various bright colored flowers. The primary colors include pink, violet, red, orange, yellow, green, and black. Normally, the stems grow 14 – 26 inches tall and the whimsy-shaped flowers measure 5 inches across.

In Fact, these plants are mutations of some triumph tulips and late-flowering tulip varieties. These flowers have serrated or fringed petals. They open and flatten out through the course of exposure to the sun.

Normally, parrot tulips are green at the initial stages. But once flowers mature and open, they reveal their colorful appearance from inside. You can also see their usually black centers and yellow stamens at this stage.

Usually, gardeners consider some varieties as “bicolor”. But in reality, they are “tricolor” due to the ever-present greenish shade.

These beautiful large flowers are sensitive to cold and wet climates. Even though the stems are strong enough to carry them, it is advisable to grow these plants in sheltered locations.

At present, there are over 3,000 registered varieties of tulips available in the worldwide market. They are mostly divided into fifteen groups based on flower size, type, and blooming periods.

Naturally, the parrot tulips are perennials. But, after the initial year, they tend to lose their usual vigor. So, Gardeners prefer to grow them as annuals rather than perennials


Generally, the propagation and caring methods of all tulips are essentially similar. However, the parrot Tulips are delicate. Hence, they need a little bit of extra caring.

These plants grow well in USDA Zones 3 – 7. Due to the weight of large flowers, the stems may tend to break during heavy winds. So, it is advisable to grow these plants in sheltered locations. You can also grow them in containers too and shift them indoors during adverse climates.

Select a space that receives full sunlight. These plants prefer to grow in well-draining, loose, fertile soil with a PH range of 6.0 – 7.0.

Parrot Tulips Bulbs

The most common method of propagating parrot tulips is by dividing bulbs. As stated by the Royal Horticultural Society, you can grow these plants from seeds too. But the plants may not resemble the original variants. So, this method is rarely used.

You can purchase the bulbs from any online stores like amazon or any nurseries nearby. Usually, the package contains propagation instructions and manufacturer contact details.

Start the process in the fall. First, Sort and remove the rotten bulbs.

Sow the bulbs directly in the garden soil. Alternatively, you can grow the bulbs in containers and follow the same procedures as stated here. Sow the bulbs at least 5 inches deep. Make sure the distance between the bulbs is 4-6 inches.

Fertilize the soil with a balanced all-purpose balanced fertilizer (10-10-10 NPK) before sprouting in spring. Additionally, you can fertilize the soil again in the fall. This provides bulbs to rise healthier.

These plants require water (one inch per week). So, keep a watch on water levels. Do not overwater or underwater.

Cover the surrounding spaces with 2-3 inches of good quality mulch, especially when the foliage decolors or turn brown. This protects the plants from extreme summer heats as well as extreme winter cools.

Also, do not forget to remove the mulch covering, before the plants start to sprout in the early spring. It also keeps weed growth under check.

You can expect blooms from mid-spring onwards. These varieties usually continue to bloom almost till summer. So, if you interplant them with early blooming varieties, you can enjoy a long blooming season.


After the spring, parrot tulips start to sprout fresh. At this stage, they may need slightly more or less than one inch per week watering, depending on the environmental conditions. So, make sure to water regularly, until the following summer when the flowers start to fade.

While doing so, avoid pouring the water over the plants. It may damage the blooms. Aim at the hose at the base of the plant.

Also, avoid overwatering. These fragile plants are less immune to water-borne diseases and pests.

We always recommend you to use drip and trickle watering systems. You can easily control the quantity and spread of water with these efficient systems.

Fertilize the soil with an all-purpose balanced fertilizer (10-10-10 NPK) every month throughout the growing season.

Snip off the faded blooms and their stems with good quality garden shears. But don’t cut off the green foliage until it turns yellowish and die down finally. It is because this foliage supplies essential energy to the bulbs by observing it from the sunlight directly.

Finally, when the whole foliage is lost, dig out the bulbs. Then, store them in a dry and warm space. When the temperatures cool down, usually in august, replant the bulbs. In the meantime, do not forget to dispose the rotting bulbs immediately. Otherwise, they may affect healthy bulbs too.

Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases do not often bother parrot tulips. However, there are a few common pests and diseases that may affect these plants.


This fungal disease commonly infects at root levels. The infected plants turn brittle and break out. Flowers decolorize.

Treat the bulbs with fungicide before planting to avoid this disease. As there is no effective cure, destroy the affected plants.

Botrytis Blight

Generally, this disease affects plants during wet and humid conditions. The affected foliage develops small orange, yellow, brown, or reddish-brown spots. Soon, these spots combine to form molds and the plants die finally.

Dispose of the infected plants immediately as there is no effective cure for this disease.


These insects have various colors ranging from white to yellowish-green. They usually suck the sap out of the foliage. This causes the foliage to curl and the flowers to deform. They also spread various diseases to plants.

Blast hose water on plants to remove them. You can deter them with Neem oil, or Aphid sprays.


In fact, the wireworms are larvae of click beetles. They live inside the soil. They eat the plants from within. Finally, the stems fall out and the plants die.

There is no effective cure for wireworms. Dispose of the plants immediately. Treat the soil with effective chemicals, under expert supervision to rid wireworms off.


Generally, the slugs use to eat through the foliage. The resulting hole also acts as entry points for various diseases.

You can use copper tapes to deter them or slug killers to kill them. Treating soil with nematodes is an effective way to get rid of slugs.

Varieties of Parrot Tulips

Currently, you can find more than 50 types of parrot tulips (cultivars) in the world market. They sprout blooms in various colors. Some variants develop multicolor blooms too. We have listed some of the popular varieties below:

Apricot Parrot Tulips

Apricot Parrot Tulips

Royal Horticultural Society has appreciated this variety with its prestigious Garden Merit Award. This variety blooms in the late spring. It grows 16 – 24 inches tall. Apricot colored blooms have yellow and green streaked tepals. You can purchase the bulbs from Amazon for propagation.

Rococo Parrot Tulips

Rococo Parrot Tulips

Photo by Agnieszka Kwiecień, Nova (Wikimedia Commons) (CC BY-SA 4.0)

In 2003, this cultivar won the Japan Bulb Award. The beautiful blooms have a burst of red-orange colors with a flame-like natural design.

This cultivar grows up to 24 inches tall and blooms during late spring. Amazon sells the propagation bulbs of these cultivars

Blue Parrot Tulips

Blue Parrot Tulips

Photo by Agnieszka Kwiecień, Nova (Wikimedia Commons) (CC BY-SA 4.0)

In 2009, this cultivar won the Belgium Bulb Award. The large blue-purple blooms are perfect additions to cut flower packages and borders. This variety can grow up to 24 inches tall and bloom in the late spring. Amazon sells blue parrot propagation bulbs.

Black Parrot Tulips

Black Parrot Tulips

Photo by Anna reg (Wikimedia Commons)(CC BY-SA 3.0 AT)

Royal Horticultural Society has appreciated this variety with its Award of Garden Merit. The large, beautiful, fragrant, deep purple flowers grow on 16 – 24-inch-tall stems. You can easily purchase the propagation bulbs from amazon.

Mix Parrot Tulips

Generally, these mixed plantations have multicolor blooms. The beautiful scenery they provide is a treat to the eyes. Normally, the stems grow 20 inches tall and blossom during late spring. You can buy the propagation bulbs from amazon.


Ornamental Plants

Photo by Sakurai Midori (Wikimedia Commons)(CC BY-SA 2.1 JP)

The gardeners most commonly grow parrot tulips as ornamental plants. Their huge flowers with flame-like color streaks never fail to enhance the looks of the garden spaces.

Generally, decorators use these beauties to decorate bridal bouquets, table decorations, cut flowers, and other floral decorations. Some varieties like Tulip ‘Verona’, Tulip ‘Angelique’ Etc., also exhibit scented fragrance.

As a matter of fact, parrot tulips can decorate your spaces with both scenery and scent. To enjoy this advantage, you can plant them near your patios, doorways, or paths leading to your private spaces.

Culinary use

Generally, the tulip flowers and tulip bulbs are edible. The taste may vary depending on the season and variety. In 1944-45, the Dutch consumed the tulip bulbs during the Dutch famine. The Dutch doctors themselves provided tulip bulb receipts for consumption and also for treating a few diseases.

However, the toxicity level and safe consumption quantity, etc., are yet to be studied. Therefore, it is recommended to get a registered medical practitioners’ advice before consuming tulips.

You can purchase some guides that contain edible flower recipes including tulip recipes on Amazon.

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