Extend your tulip display by planting both early- and late-blooming varieties. Tulips are strictly spring bloomers. However, there are other flowers available mimicking the cup-shape of tulips.
Native throughout much of the American Pacific Northwest, pasque flowers (Anemone patens) are one of the first plants to bloom in the spring. The 1 to 4 inch wide flowers are white, pink or light purple and grow from a basal rosette of leaves. Pasque flowers are spring ephemerals, going dormant shortly after the bloom period finishes. Mark their location carefully to avoid disturbing them later in the season. Pasque flowers are the state flower of South Dakota.
The Southwest is the perfect climate for growing sego lily (Calochortus nuttallii), a desert native with goblet-shaped, white flowers with red and yellow splotches at the base like many tulips. It thrives in sandy soil and blooms in the cool weather of early spring. A related plant, the mariposa lily (C. gunnisonii var. perpulcher), has light-yellow flowers and blooms in late July or August. As with all wildflowers, don't collect from the wild. Buy seeds or plants only from reputable growers.
Autumn crocuses (Colchicum spp.) resemble big brothers to the spring bulb, but they're not really crocuses. Also called meadow saffron or naked ladies, colchicums send up large, tulip-shaped pink or white flowers in the fall, adding a bright spot to the garden when many other plants are beginning to decline. Like their spring namesake, autumn crocuses are easy to grow and multiply rapidly. Use them with care in gardens accessible to pets and children, as all parts of the bulb are toxic.
Few cut flowers last as long as lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), an annual Texas wildflower. Often included by florists in mixed bouquets, lisianthus has large, cup-shaped flowers in pink, purple and white. They're easy to grow from seed, and small plants are often available in garden centers in the spring. The plants grow 18 to 24 inches high and grow in full sun or light shade. As with any annual, deadheading encourages more bloom.
California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) grow well in parts of Texas. Include these flowers in any garden with full sun and good drainage. The tulip-shaped blooms are either brilliant orange or yellow, and are held on long stems above finely divided foliage. They'll bloom from April to August in most areas of the country. It seeds are available in the spring in most garden centers.
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