Tulips for Texas: Tulipa clusiana

Many of Austin’s garden bloggers posted pictures this week of their species tulips, a dainty variety that looks more like a rain lily but will actually naturalize in central Texas without having to be dug up and chilled.

So when I spotted Tulipa clusiana ‘Cynthia’ at Barton Springs Nursery this week, I couldn’t resist buying a couple of 4-inch pots of the colorful flowers for my own garden. Isn’t it darling?

The flowers start out pale yellow with an orangey red feather of color on the back of each petal. But when fully open, they look like pale-yellow rain lilies.

If I’ve left you wanting more, visit Playin’ Outside, Soul of the Garden (scroll down to the “March 16-evening” post), and Rock Rose for more pics.

All material © 2006-2009 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

19 Responses

  1. Lythrum says:

    Those are really beautiful. :)

    I bet they’d do well in Alabama too, Lythrum. —Pam

  2. I have some clusiana tulips here and just love them! Mine are called either ‘Lady Jane’ or ‘Ice Stick’. I planted both and have moved them and since they look so much alike, I put them all together, so it’s actually a mix of the two. Do you know which one yours is? It looks very much like mine, except where yours is yellow, mine is white. You’re right, they do look a bit similar to rain lilies. In any case, yours is really pretty and I’d love to have some of those here, if I can find them!

    I didn’t see a label on these, Kylee, which is unusual for Barton Springs Nursery. I might call back to ask them. UPDATE: They’re ‘Cynthia,’ Kylee. —Pam

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    These certainly are beauties. I can see why they had to come home with you.

    They were irresistible, Lisa. —Pam

  4. Frances says:

    Hi Pam, those are wonderful. I have Lady Jane, which is white where that one is yellow. I need more of this type that come back to bloom for years as opposed the the standard hybrids. There is a very good species called Tulipa vvedenskyi Tangerine Beauty that is a larger flower on a shorter stem that might work there also.

    Thanks for the info, Frances. I hope the local nurseries will start selling other varieties of naturalizing tulips as well. —Pam

  5. Jenny B says:

    How beautiful! Another beauty to add to my plant list…

    Those wish lists can be quite extensive, can’t they, Jenny? :-) —Pam

  6. Do you have a list of any other tulips that have been known to naturalize in your area?

    Not really. But I have been wanting the red Texas tulip, sold by Southern Bulb Co. —Pam

  7. Jenny says:

    Did the tag say if they were “Lady Jane” They look like that variety. I am in love with them too having bought 10 bulbs at the bulb sale in January. I couldn’t believe that they would grow and flower in 2 months. I am sad that they have now finished flowering and hope that next year they will have increased their numbers. I did buy some others and they have been a disaster with only one about to flower. Glad you are taking some time out from ‘digging’ to shop!

    They weren’t labeled, Jenny, at least not that I saw. Usually BSN labels everything meticulously, so I should just call back to ask. UPDATE: They’re ‘Cynthia,’ Jenny. —Pam

  8. Very, very pretty Pam. My traditional tulips didn’t fare very well this year. Very short stems. I think it was due to our extremely mild winter. I may go to species tulips next spring. Happy spring BTW.~~Dee

    Same to you, Dee! We don’t have a hope of traditional tulips here in Austin, unless replanted as annuals every year, and I just can’t get excited about that. So I’m happy to give these species tulips a try. —Pam

  9. Sweet Bay says:

    I love Lady Jane tulips, but have so far admired them in other people’s gardens, as the voles love them too!

    Sorry about the voles, Sweet Bay. For me it’s deer, but that’s only in the front yard. You’re gardening in a rural area, so maybe you have to deal with deer too? —Pam

  10. Town Mouse says:

    I love species tulips. Never could understand the freezer full of tulips thin some gardeners indulge in. ;->

    I’m so happy to finally have some species tulips. I never could bother with the other kind either. —Pam

  11. rosemarie says:

    I really like these tulips and I’m so new to gardening that I am constantly amazed at the different weather patterns, so when you said “dug up and chilled” I was reminded how tulips need that cold snap that TX doesn’t have. Nature is amazing.

    Oh yes, that’s what the magazines recommend Southerners do to make sure their tulips bloom each year. That or just treat them like annuals and replace every year. I’m just not that into tulips to be bothered. —Pam

  12. Brenda Kula says:

    Oh my! That tulip looks like it has orange feathers painted on it!

    It sure does, and it adds to the cuteness, doesn’t it? —Pam

  13. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Pam, I bought 3 types of small tulips this fall: Lady Jane, Tinka and Lilac Wonder. Only the Tinkas have bloomed thus far but I like them. We’ll see whether they all naturalize as I’m told they will.

    I’ll be waiting to see if mine do as well. —Pam

  14. Pam, now I’m getting really curious. My Tinkas look just like the Lady Janes and your new Cynthia. I have both Tinka and Lady Jane, and as far as I can tell, they look the same, though Lady Jane is supposed to be more white. Needs more of an expert than I am on these species tulips, but I do love them (whatever their name) and glad you nabbed some!

    I did a Google image search yesterday and agree that many of the varieties look an awful lot alike. —Pam

  15. Jenn says:

    Wonder if this one would survive the desert here in Phoenix? Sure is pretty!

    Good question, Jenn. It might be worth a shot, eh? —Pam

  16. kerri says:

    The Cynthias are beautiful, Pam! They make your garden look very ‘springy’ :)
    Happy Vernal Equinox! Happy Spring!!

    Same to you, Kerri! Yes, these little tulips do sing of spring. I’m really loving them. —Pam

  17. Sweet Bay says:

    Pam, we do have to deal with deer, but so far we haven’t had nearly as bad of a time as some people. Most of our farm lies in a creek bottom, so we’re surrounded by acres of undeveloped land (and hunters, I might add). The deer are mostly a problem in late winter. It’s odd, this year they’re leaving the roses alone and taking bites out of the iris foliage. ? Once everything greens up the deer leave the garden alone.

    When I was a kid seeing a deer was a big deal; now everyone sees them everywhere, and I know they can cause a lot of distress to gardeners.

    Weird that your deer are eating iris foliage but not roses! —Pam

  18. Oh, don’t forget Scott Ogden’s Garden Bulbs for the South, another great resource for all things bulbs. Linda

    Thanks for reminding me, Linda. I need to check that one out sometime. —Pam

  19. eliz says:

    Great flowers, and, like many of the species, they will perennialize. I love my clusianas: I have Cynthia and Lady Jane.

    You’re the tulip gal! Can’t wait to see your bounty this spring. —Pam