Tiptoe Through the Tulips

The Missouri Botanical Garden staff planted more than 45,000 tulips in the fall of 2021 in preparation for their spring 2022 seasonal display, including 105 varieties.

By Catherine Martin, Missouri Botanical Garden.


One in Every Color: Tulips have a wide range of hues encompassing every color of the rainbow except a true blue. Spring colors like pink, yellow and purple tend to be the most popular, but tulips also come in shades like green and peach. “Queen of Night,” is a deep-burgundy variety that appears almost black and is striking in the Garden's bright landscapes. The Garden is experimenting with using species tulips, the wild relatives of tulips traditionally found in landscapes that have been bred for large, colorful blooms. Species tulips tend to be shorter, with more petite flowers and come in a wider range of colors.

Where to Find Them: The front entrance will be bold, eye-catching reds, yellows, oranges and whites (accented with orange Fritillaria for height). The Swift Family Garden will be all different shades of pink, early-flowering tulips ranging from pale pink to bright fuchsia, accented with white tulips. The Sensory Garden will feature double and parrot tulips for texture so they can be used in the Therapeutic Horticulture programs. The Sachs Museum will be a mix of subtle peaches, mauves, apricots and maroons in single and double flowering forms.

Unique Species: Tulipa acuminata: This historic tulip with long, slender, pointed petals and flame-like coloring dates back to at least the 19th century. They are reminiscent of the pointy-petalled tulips that were popular in the Ottoman Empire. Tulipa clusiana is one of the oldest tulip species to be recognized in the early 1600s. It has red and white petals and a slender form. Tulipa “Red Riding Hood” is named for its stunning red blooms but its purple-red streaked foliage is beautiful on its own.