Tulips are in the genus Tulipa, and they are in the liliaceae family. Tulip is the common name. Most of them are native to Asia, and were introduced to Europe in the sixteenth century from Turkey.
Out of the one hundred fifty species or so in the group, only about sixty are cultivated. In northwestern areas of the United States, tulip flower bulbs are grown commercially. Currently, there is about four thousand known varieties of tulips that bloom in a two-month time span.
Most tulip bulbs have four to six leaves. They can be long and narrow, or they can have more of an oval shape tapering at the ends. The blooms of tulip flower bulbs can be either cup shape or a saucer shape. Most will have one to four blooms on each stem that the bulb produces.
However, some garden tulips can have up to nine blooms per stem. Tulip blooms have three petals, and three sepals that look like petals. Of course, double varieties will have more. Each bloom will also have six stamens with three chambers each that produce flat, round seeds.
Tulips can reproduce by forming offsets which can be separated for propagation, or they can reproduce from seeds. Most cultivated tulips are grown from seeds. Some types of tulips can cross pollinate with each others and look totally different than the mother plant. Thus, creating new hybrids.
Sometimes cloning is used to reproduce replicas of the mother plants in order to duplicate them. All of the garden tulips today have been modified and there are none wild.
Since tulip flower bulbs need to have a dormant period, they will grow best in temperate climates. Most are planted four to eight inches deep depending on the species.
However in warmer climates, tulips are often planted up to twelve inches deep to help protect the flower bulbs from the summer heat. Also in warmer climates, the tulip bulbs will sometimes reproduce one large bulb instead of several smaller ones as an attempt to survive.
The different types of tulips are divided into classes which include the time of bloom, the flower shape, and the size of the plant. Within each class, they are further divided into colors. Some tulips can be as short as four inches tall and are great for rock gardens. Other tulips can grow as tall as twenty-seven inches and look great in flower gardens or in borders.
They also look wonderful in containers and make great looking cut flowers.