These are the most treasured, most perennial tulips of all. Plant them once, and you'll have them for years. They are also tall, tough, and have some of the biggest, most luscious flowers of all tulips.
Now, make no mistake: no tulip is as dependably perennial as a daffodil. But the Darwin Hybrids are the ones most bulb growers call "perennial." This means they'll return for several years, especially if you remove the fading flowers each spring. While naturalized daffodils are "forever", many homeowners report their Darwin Hybrid tulips are still faithfully returning after 6 to 10 seasons. For their inexpensive price, we think that's a beautiful bargain. Here's the story:
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. The famous Apeldoorn group was introduced in 1951 by D. W. Lefeber and Company. 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.