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Southeast Regional Reports

Tulip or Not Tulip? Growing Tulips Successfully in the Southeast

While some species are best treated as annuals, others perennialize well in our region

‘Cynthia’ lady tulip is one of the species of tulips that will come up season after season in the Southeast. Photo: Paula Gross

It’s hard not to love tulips (Tulipa spp. and cvs., Zones 3–8). Just as the fresh greens of early spring begin to stir our senses, up shoot a mass of floral challises cheerfully toasting the glory of spring in primary colors. So goes tulip season, I hear, in the home gardens of many a Northerner. But here in the Southeast, early hot spells and short springs don’t play nicely with traditional hybrid tulips. Seasoned Southern gardeners are quick to advise, “You can’t grow tulips in the South.”

But don’t lose hope (you’re a gardener, after all). In fact, we can grow tulips here; it’s the reblooming of them that’s the problem. The reality of hybrid tulips in our climate is that they are a one-season show. Without going too deep into the science, it boils down to heat: not enough chill in the winter when cold is required…

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