Snow Princess

Pallid Dwarf Tulip
'Alba Coerulea Oculata' aka,
'Snow Princess'

He mocks at the winds that caper along
From the far-off clamorous deep, -
But we - we love their lullaby song
Of "Sleep, little tulip, sleep!"

-Eugene Field,


Tulipa humilus 'Alba Coerulea Oculata' is one of the finest botanical tulips, a dwarf of only four or five inches height, producing a large close-to-the-ground starry flower that is snowy white with a steel blue heart.

It has been sold over the years under a variety of names, including T. violacea pallida, T. pulchella coerulea-oculata, T. pulchella albocoerulea oculata, T. pulchella pallida, plus other variations. It is currently correct to assign it to the species T. humilis. The cultivar name is given variously, including as 'Alba' & 'Snow Princess,' but we bought it from John Scheepers as 'Alba Coerulea Oculata' & Scheepers usually knows their stuff.

It needs fullest light & may get taller but tippy if placed in shade. It flowers in our sunny alley-side garden starting about mid-March lasting into April. It's quite cold-hardy but not awfully heat-hardy, & can be grown in USDA zones 3-8. It needs protection at the lower range of its cold tolerances.

In past years I've tried to find layerable dwarf & tall tulips, or dwarf tulips & tall narcissus, that would bloom serially. I learned the hard way that the dwarf tulips are completely swallowed up if planted with anything the least bit bigger than they are. So for 'Coerulea Oculata' I turned & enriched an area where nothing else had yet been planted, & turned this area over to drifts of this tulip plus two other closely related dwarfs, T. hageri 'Little Beauty' & T. hageri x aucherina 'Little Princess,' keeping this area of the garden strictly a festival of miniatures. Among these 'Snow Princess ' blooms first.


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