© RHS / Tim Sandall


Specialist tulips

Botanical name: Tulipa species and cultivars

Common name: Tulip

These tulips are generally smaller in scale and more delicate in appearance than border tulips. They benefit from tailoring growing conditions to suit their needs. If happy, they will often multiply in number.  


These little gems of the garden are delicate in comparison to larger bolder border tulips. Single-flowered, they are wild species, or closely related to them. Because of this, they tend to have an informal naturalistic appearance.    


Most need free-draining soil in spring, with a dry summers rest. Grow them as greenhouse specimen plants in pots of gritty compost, or outdoors in gravel, rock gardens and alpine troughs. They prefer a sunny position, although a few tolerate shade.


The bulbs may rot in heavy or badly drained soil that stays wet in summer. In shade the flowers will not open fully.

Did you know?

Wild species, Tulipa sylvestris grows in shady damp places, spreading by stolons (underground stems) rather than forming bulbs around the parent plant.       

Growing guide

Specialist tulips we recommend

Buy tulips from RHSplants.co.uk

Every purchase supports the work of the RHS

Useful advice

Gravel gardens

Gravel gardens

Rock gardening

Rock gardening

Sink and trough gardening

Sink and trough gardening

Stem and bulb nematode

Stem and bulb nematode

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.