Greigi Tulip

"The tulip of this meadowland
Is yet all flecked with hue;
Cast not the shield out of thy hand,
For battle flares anew."

-Allama Iqbal,


Tulipa greigii 'Pinocchio,' introduced in 1980, is named for the titular character in the children's classic novel by Carlo Collodi (pseudonym for Carlo Lorenzini, 1826-1890).

Pinocchio'Pinocchio' grows eight to fourteen inches high, usually keeping itself to the shorter end, with enormous blooms relative to its height. It likes plenty of sun but can stand a bit of shade. On overcast days or in partial shade they do not open "flat" in a completely unfolded position, but they are beautiful even folded, having peppermint candy stripes on the outsides of the petals.

It is suitable for indoor forcing, & does well in containers or the open garden. We planted ten 'Pinocchio' bulbs at the side of the sump pump lid, next to a little drift of 'Milan' daffodils. Along the front edge of the lid we planted 'Red Riding Hood' Greigi tulips & 'Early Harvest' water-lily tulips. All three tulips are about the same short height with huge blooms; only the 'Milan' daffodils are taller. These three tulips bloom in succession, first 'Early Harvest,' followed by 'Pinocchio,' concluding with 'Red Riding Hood.'

As closed pyramidal blossoms, 'Pinocchio' shows itself off as candy-cane flowers, the outside of each petal having a wide red line flanked by ivory. As these long-lasting flowers age, the white stripes darken stage by stage until the the petals' verticle red stripe is flanked by lighter red stripes. The interior is white aging to red, with a yellow center. Attractive foliage has purple markings.

Though traditionally listed with botanicals, this is not a species tulip but a hybrid greigii. It is thus unable to naturalize, but the bulbs are long-lived & will produce flowers for many years.

We've tried greigii tulips in hot dry gardens, & in protected moist well-drained gardens, & discovered they are not nearly as tolerant of drier locations as are many other tulips. Even here in the rainy Northwest, they tend to weaken year by year when placed beyond the reach of average irrigation, for despite our region's soggy reputation, in reality our summers are very dry.


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