Plant of the Month – November, 2012

Triumph tulip ‘Friendship’. Photos courtesy of Dallas Arboretum.

Tulipa – ‘Spar’ and ‘Friendship’ Triumph types

Latin name:
Common name: Triumph tulips
Type: Annual bulb
Flowers: Red/yellow flowers in wineglass sizes/shapes
Mature size: 12” tall
Hardiness: Mid-spring annual
Soil: Moist
Exposure: Full sun
Water usage: Medium
Sources: Local nurseries, Appott Ipco, Brent & Becky’s Bulbs

Wow! It’s really the time of year to plant spring bulbs! This reminds me of tulips … and “Tulip Mania,” the centuries when monetary trade was driven by the price of a single tulip bulb. Can you imagine a world today with trade based on a bulb? Things have changed just a bit over the centuries.

Our world-renowned spring bulb display at the Dallas Arboretum is recognized as second only to that of Keukenhof Gardens in Holland. Holland, of course, is synonymous with bulbs. and the country is the world leader in the production of tulips. In the Dallas Arboretum Trial Gardens we are able to determine the best of the best tulips. We test hundreds of tulip and narcissus each year to see what we can do to wow our patrons. This year two varieties stood out that can bring even more beauty to your spring landscape.

Before we go into these varieties, let’s talk “Bulbs 101.” There is a notion that bulbs can be difficult, but they are actually very easy to grow. Here are a couple of easy tricks to give you a “bulb thumb.” First, make sure that your source has been chilling your tulips bulbs; this is essential for optimal bloom in Texas. The rest is easy, especially if you pick the ideal tulip for our region. There are more than 13 different types of bulbs. “Types” determine the time when they bloom; ones that have proven to work well in our area are Single Early, Single Late, and Triumph. Go to to find a compiled list of varieties that have worked well over the years. Don’t be afraid to place all your bulbs in a pile and mix them up. This will allow for several weeks of multiple blooms. Pick a spot where you would like them. Toss them in the general direction where you want them, dig a hole twice as deep as the bulb, place thinner side up, cover, and maintain with water. It’s that simple!

Left photo: Triumph tulip ‘Spar’.
Right photo: Triumph tulip ‘Friendship’.

Two varieties that really stood out in the Dallas Arboretum Plant Trials this year were ‘Spar’ and ‘Friendship’. Their names accurately describe what they are, which can be unique in the plant world. ‘Spar’ is a true red that holds true to its name. When I saw this name, I thought of Roman gladiators, and that is what I saw every time I looked at this variety. It is that kind of red, a true blood red. This tulip is a Triumph type and will bloom mid-March for around 20 days and will stand around 17 inches tall. ‘Friendship’ is the best true yellow that I have seen in several years. I think ‘Friendship’ is a perfect name for this bright and light flower. It stands at 17 inches tall and blooms for 20-plus days and is also a Triumph type.

Don’t be afraid to plant bulbs in fall to bring a different texture and element to your spring landscape. Remember to plant at the correct time, select the right tulip type, choose bulbs that have been chilled, and you will have the Yard of the Month. Have fun, and garden strong! 

About the author: Jenny Wegley is the senior manager of trials and greenhouse at the Dallas Arboretum. Visit for more information on the Arboretum’s trials.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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