This is the winner of the tulip contest in the US. The Netherlands Flower Bulb Centre keeps careful records, and they tell us that Americans buy more red Darwin Hybrids than any other tulips. And no wonder. Theyre the tall, large-flowered 'perennial tulips', and, well, red is red. Can't have too many of this classic.
About Darwin Hybrid Tulips: Early in the 20th Century, a talented Dutch hybridizer named Lefeber worked long and hard with a wild tulip called 'Tulipa fosteriana' from Central Asia. It is red, and from it, he hybridized the group that became known as the Emperor Tulips. The world-famous Red Emperor was introduced in 1931, and is what we now call a member of the 'Fosteriana Tulip' group. In fact, Red Emperor's official variety name is 'Madame Lefeber' in honor of the original hybridizer's wife.
Even though the Red Emperor and other fosterianas were instant sensations, the hybridizers were not satisfied. They were fascinated by what were then called simply 'Darwin Tulips'. These were large-flowered tulips in clear colors on tall stems, but without any perennial qualities. The Emperors, being close to a wild species, were quite perennial, so they crossed the two groups. And voila! Darwin Hybrid Tulips were born, with the best qualities of both groups.
Ever since, the Darwin Hybrids have set the standards worldwide for tall graceful, large flowered perennial tulips. Red Darwin Hybrids are now No. 1 in the US. There are not many Darwin Hybrids, even today. But they are every good gardener's favorites and always highly valued by florists.
In America's Top Ten list for popularity in the US, compiled by the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Centre, they list no less than three Darwin Hybrids, more than from any other group.'