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Tulips come in a variety of colors but how about patterns? Why stick to a solid color - as beautiful as it may be - when you can have stripes of different shades adorning your blooms?
In this post, we'll take a close look at striped and variegated tulips (tulipa), get to know some popular options you can grow in your garden and enjoy a luxurious gallery of photos of striped tulips!
What are striped tulips?
The Tulip (Tulipa in Latin) is a popular perennial plant which grows from bulbs. With hundreds of varieties, this is one of the prettiest and best-known flowers in the world.
Simply put, striped tulips are gorgeous varieties of tulips which have more than one color in the flower. The interchanging colors are present in either the petals or the sepals (often referred to as tepals in tulips, where the outer sepals are as colorful as the petals themselves).
There are records of striped tulips going back to the 17th century. This drawing of a Semper Augustus Tulip dates back to 1640 -
What causes stripes or variegation in tulips?
This is actually a fascinating question! Traditionally, striped tulips were the result of a virus infecting the plant! Known as Tulip Breaking Virus or TBV for short, this family of virii causes the color to be broken into stripes in the leaves of the flower itself.
Infecting budding plants with TBV used to be the traditional way of creating striped tulips. Unfortunately, infected plants were also smaller and more sickly looking.
These days, modern variegated tulips are the result of deliberate hybridization where genetic manipulation replaced the role of the virus. You can simply purchase bulbs of the right hybrid plants to get gorgeous large and healthy striped tulips.
Are striped tulips different from variegated tulips?
Technically, "variegated" means having more than one color in the pattern. "Striped" would mean the variegation is arranged in either thin or thick stripes along the petals. In the case of tulips, striped and variegated are often used interchangeably to describe the same phenomenon.
What colors do striped tulips come in?
Striped tulips come in a huge variety of color and patterns. Even before taking into account the shape of the flower itself, the color schemes on their own are varied.
Most popular types have either white, cream or yellow as the lighter color, with red and purple as the darker one. The striped can be thick or thin, and they can be well-defined or subtly merging into one another.
Types of striped/variegated tulips
Fans of tulips use a division system to classify this flower. Variegated varieties can be found in many of these divisions. Here are some examples.
Single Early Tulips
These cup-shaped single flowers include the following striped varieties:
Princess Irene Tulips
These beautiful tulips bloom in a variegated mix of purple and orange.
Double Early Tulips
As the name suggests, the flowers in this division have two (double) layers of petal leaves.
Tulip Creme Upstar
A variegated pattern of yellow and pink makes these double early tulips extra special.
Stunning in stripes of pink, white and some green on the sepals too.
When most people think of tulips, they're thinking about the Triumph varieties with their classical large flowers. Variegated varieties include -
A stunning deep shade of red with glowing light yellow edges.
Gorgeous yellow and red striped tulips.
Flaming Flag Tulips
Stripes of rick purple over white give these a very appealing look.
Darwin Hybrid Tulips
These large goblet-shaped tulips also have variegated options.
Candy Apple Delight
It's easy to see how these tulips got their name!
Single Late Tulips
While these large flowers with thick stems usually come in solid colors, they sometimes have variegated versions.
World Expression Tulips
These delicate flowers really seem to open up while keeping their waist thin and dainty. Their striped versions include -
Tulip Holland Chic
Beautifully striped in pink over white.
Tulip Synaeda King
Flames in red and yellow make this variety extra special.
As the name suggests, these tulips have frilly blossoms. At least one variety is also variegated.
Available in varying amounts of pink stripes over white, the variegation really stands out across the frilled petals.
Viridiflora tulips have some green in their external layer of petals (or tepals). Essentially, you could say that all of the varieties of viridiflora tulips can be considered as variegated for that reason. Here are a few examples -
From green to pink - with white stripes in between.
Another variation on the green to pink stripes.
These tulips are variegated by definition. Rembrandts are named after cup-shaped striped tulips which show up in paintings by Rembrandt.
You will often find Rembrandt tulips sold as a collection of bulbs for various colors of striped tulips.
Parrot tulips have deeply twisted petals in a variety of color combinations.
Tulip Irene Parrot
Just look at these orange frilled petals with purple bases.
Flaming parrot tulip
Rich magenta base ending with white and pink petal frills.
Double late tulips
Sometimes called "peony tulips" these have a double layer of petals condensed in a round blossom.
Tulip Carnival De nice
A striped version of the double late tulip in white and purple.
Kaufmanniana & Greigii tulips
These elongated tulips tend to bloom early in the season. They have a variegated version too.
As they open up, the blossoms show up their stripes.
These used to be known as emperor tulips, and the names of the varieties tend to reflect that.
With a beautiful striped design in white and pink, this is truly a regal tulip.
Where can you get striped tulips?
Fortunately, gardeners no longer need to infect their tulips with a virus to get the variegated look. All you need to do is select the right bulbs.
When buying your bulbs, consider where you'd like to plant them and make sure you're providing them with the right amount of shade.
Here are a couple of links to get you started.
Flaming Parrot Tulip
We've mentioned this frill-leaved tulip before and now you can order it to be planted in our own garden! These gorgeous tulips should thrive in zones 4-8, when planted in full light.
This member of the Double Early division of tulips. Planted in fall, these gorgeous flowers should do well in full light in zones 3-8.
Striped tulips care tips
Variegated tulips require the same kind of care as solid ones. They are considered easy to care for so why not try having a few in your garden?
Here are some quick care tips -
- Plant your bulbs in autumn. Until it's time to put them in the earth, store them properly in a cool dry place.
- Choose a well-lit patch of your garden for your tulips to grow in.
- Opt for well-drained clay soil and fertilize as may be necessary.
- When planting, space bulbs approximately 5 inches apart from one another, cover with approximately 7 inches of earth.
- Water the bulbs if the soil is dry. If you live in a wet area, you may not need to irrigate the area as much, or even at all.
- Prune the flower heads once the bloom is spent. It's best to let the stems and leaves dry out on their own before removing them too.
Image gallery for Striped and Variegated Tulips
Need more inspiration? We have some eye candy for you in the form of these gorgeous pictures of variegated/striped tulips galore!
Have you ever tried growing striped tulips in your garden? Leave us a comment to let us know how you did. Or just let us know what your favorite type of striped tulip is!