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Double-flowered tulips: The wanna be peonies

Peony tulips, also known as double-flowered tulips or peony-flowered tulips, are a special category of tulips that resemble peonies in their appearance. Peony tulips have their own unique beauty and characteristics, and they don’t necessarily strive to be peonies!

These tulips are highly sought after for their unique and striking blooms, which feature multiple layers of petals and a resemblance to the lush, full flowers of peonies.

You said petals or tepals?

Tepals are a botanical term used to describe the parts of a flower that are not clearly differentiated into separate petals and sepals. This is commonly seen in certain flower families, including the Liliaceae family, to which tulips (Tulipa) belong. Tulips usually have six tepals, which means they cannot be easily distinguished as petals or sepals.

More is better

Double-flowered tulips have a unique tepal structure that differs from that of single-flowered tulips. Instead of having six separate tepals, double-flowered tulips have multiple layers of petals that have a similar appearance to tepals.

Some varieties can have up to 100 petals per flower, resulting in a luxuriant and voluminous appearance.

Peony tulips often showcase a bowl-shaped or globular form, resembling the rounded silhouette of peonies. The petals may be tightly packed or loosely arranged, giving each flower a unique texture and personality.

Peony tulips come in a wide array of colors, ranging from vibrant hues to delicate pastels. You can find them in shades of red, pink, purple, yellow, orange, white, and bi-color combinations. The captivating colors of peony tulips make them a popular choice for adding dramatic impact to gardens and floral arrangements.

In this arrangement, ‘Dreamline’ tulips.

Cultivating peony tulips

The cultivation requirements for peony tulips are similar to those of other tulip varieties. They prefer well-drained soil and full sunlight. Plant the bulbs in the fall, at a depth of about 6-8 inches, with the pointed end facing upwards. Adequate watering during the growing season and a dormant period during winter are essential for their optimal growth. I have had more success this year after using granular chicken manure, which acts as both a fertilizer and a critter deterrent.

Be sure to provide support or stake the stems if needed, as the heavy flowers can sometimes weigh them down. If you cut the flowers, leave at least one to two leaves on the stem.

While fragrance in tulips is not as common as in other flowers like roses or lilies, there can be variations among different cultivars. Among the peony tulips, there are a few, notably the ‘Gudoshnik Double’ variety, that possess a subtle fragrance.

My varieties of peony tulips

Here are a few examples of the double-flowered tulips currently in bloom in my garden this spring of 2023:

  1. ‘Angelique’: This variety features soft pink, fragrant flowers with multiple layers of petals that create a voluminous and romantic look.
  2. ‘Cranberry Kiss’: Large double cranberry red blooms.
  3. ‘Danceline’: Big, puffy, peony-like flowers that opens ivory with a yellow glow, developing raspberry vertical lines and exterior green feathering.
  4. ‘Double Dolce’: Ivory with subtle magenta streaks.
  5. ‘Double Shirley’:  This voluptuous tulip features fully double blooms of creamy white with deep violet-purple edging. As the flowers age, the purple hue flows freely into the white petals, becoming the dominant hue when the bloom is fully mature. 
  6. ‘Drumline’: Beautiful candy apple-red blooms with ivory white tips produce large flowers.
  7. ‘Finola’: Dreamy ivory to pale rose double blooms.
  8. ‘Freeman’: Enormous peony-sized double gold to orange blooms with serrated edged petals that are simply spectacular! 
  9. ‘Gudoshnik Double’: These peony-like blossoms are a bouquet of silky petals and they bloom in colors that range from buttery yellow and gold to salmon, coral and vermillion. Red and orange feathering adds to their beauty. Mine were mostly red this year to my complete enchantment.
  10. ‘Showcase’: Rich magenta flowers with rosy-plum tones. Packed with petals, this double early tulip opens to reveal flowers that truly resemble peonies.

The fringed varieties

Fringed varieties of double-flowered tulips are a fascinating category of tulips characterized by their distinctive fringed or serrated edges on the petals. This fringed appearance gives them a unique and ornamental quality, setting them apart from other tulip varieties.

The fringed effect is created by small, delicate projections or fringe-like extensions along the edges of the petals. These fringes can vary in length and thickness, ranging from subtle and fine to more prominent and pronounced, depending on the specific cultivar.

The fringed petals add an extra layer of texture and intricacy to the already abundant petals of double-flowered tulips. This feature enhances the visual appeal of the flowers, creating a captivating and eye-catching display. The fringes can accentuate the colors and patterns of the petals, adding depth and complexity to the overall appearance of the flower.

Fringed double-flowered tulips come in a wide range of colors, including shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, white, and bicolor combinations. The fringed edges can have the same color as the rest of the petal or provide a contrasting color, further highlighting the intricate nature of the fringes.

These tulips can vary in size, from compact and petite to larger, more robust blooms. They typically have a long stem, making them suitable for cut flower arrangements. Fringed double-flowered tulips are highly valued for their decorative qualities and are often used to create stunning floral displays in gardens, landscapes, and floral designs. The overall appearance creates a stunning visual impact in borders, cutting gardens, and large plantings. Furthermore, most of these exhibit remarkable longevity, ensuring their lasting beauty in the garden.

Some of my fringed double-flowered tulip cultivars include:

‘Barbados’: The strikingly beautiful, intense red flower of the Barbados tulip is a real eye-catcher. The fringes are not only on the edge of the petals but also on the  petals themselves, giving the tulip an artistic look.

‘Brest’: It is a truly decorative variety with a lush, double form that adds a touch of luxury to any landscape. Its deep pinkish red petals provide a striking backdrop for a delicate white edge, resembling fine fringe.

‘Cranberry Thistle’: A Double Crispa variety with petals that are a sumptuous shade of bordeaux red with wildly elaborate fringed edges, giving it an elevated, frosty ice crystal look. 

These are just a few examples, and there are many other exquisite fringed varieties available, each with its own unique combination of colors, fringed patterns, and flower forms.

Peony tulips offer a captivating blend of tulip elegance and peony opulence. Their abundant petals and intricate flower forms make them a unique and highly sought-after variety among tulip enthusiasts and flower lovers. With their rich colors and extravagant blooms, peony tulips bring a touch of luxury and romance to gardens, bouquets, and floral displays. Embrace their exquisite beauty and enjoy the enchantment they bring to your floral world.

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