Dwarf Botanical Tulip
"The tulip's petals shine like dew,
All beautiful, but none alike."
-On Planting a Tulip
by James Montgomery
Tulipa urumiensis is a long-flowering miniature botanical tulip which holds both its leaves & flowers close to the ground. April blooms are followed by ornamentally appealing seedheads. It is justly a recipient of the Award of Garden Merit.
The petals are bright yellow inside, bronzed on the outer side with reddish brown ribs, & white points or edging. This flower nestles low upon the leaves.
The flowers require a very sunny location to fully display their golden interiors, & will remain partially closed on overcast days.
First described by Austrian botanist Otto Stapf (1857-1922), T. urumiensis was introduced to gardening in 1928 by John Hoog of the van Tubergen nursery.
It is native to the northern shore of Lake Urumiya in Azarbaijan, & is named for that lake. It also grows along Lake Rezaiyeh in northwestern Iran.
It likes best prairie conditions of damp springs & dry summers. Some have said it is a little less vigorous than the majority of botanicals, but others have reported the bulbs, which are larger than most botanicals despite the tiny size of the plant, reproduce themselves very readily.
It certainly can naturalize if given an ideal location in full sun & not too damp during dormancy. If conditions don't quite permit it to naturalize, it will at least perennialize, returning each spring for many years.
It needs a spot that will not be overshadowed by taller perennials, sun being so essential to its success. We planted ten bulbs each at the top & at the bottom of a "step-down" at a rockery ledge in full sun, the short tulips surrounding & impinging upon two garden-access steppingstones.
For all its shortness, the flower display is extravagant, with one, two, three or even four blooms per bulb, shining at the center of a flattened rosette of pointy leaves. Its two to four inch height makes it a good companion for planting amidst crocuses or dwarf reticulated irises, as when those are done blooming, T. urumiensis will restore flowers to the locations for later in spring.
If reticulated iris is its companion, the post-bloom grass may somewhat obscure the tiny tulip, but the slenderness of the reticulated iris grass will not shade the sun-craving tulip. But other dwarf irises with fat leaves & rhizomitous roots would not be such good companions because the rhizome displaces the tiny tulip & the fat leaves cast more shade. An extremely tiny sedum such as Goldmoss Wall Pepper would not conflict if planted in the same vicinity.
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