Tulipa humilis 'Lilliput'

Tulipa humilis ‘Lilliput’: A Jewel of the Spring Garden

Tulipa humilis ‘Lilliput’ is a charming, diminutive member of the Liliaceae family, a diverse group that includes lilies and other bulbous plants. Native to regions of the Middle East and Central Asia, Tulipa humilis species are known for their hardiness and ability to thrive in rocky, mountainous areas. ‘Lilliput’, a cultivar registered in 1987, is prized for its petite size and vibrant blooms, making it an excellent choice for rock gardens and naturalizing in the landscape.


Tulipa humilis ‘Lilliput’ is one of the smallest tulips available, reaching a height of only 10-15 cm (4-6 inches). Each bulb can produce multiple star-shaped flowers, usually two to five per stem, which are cardinal-red with striking violet-purple bases and black anthers. These eye-catching flowers bloom in early to mid-spring, typically around April, creating a vivid display in garden beds and borders.

The foliage consists of linear leaves, up to 15 cm (6 inches) long, which form a lush green backdrop to the brilliant flowers. The compact size and vibrant color of ‘Lilliput’ make it a standout choice for gardeners looking to add a splash of color to small spaces.

Care of Tulipa humilis ‘Lilliput’

Sunlight: Tulipa humilis ‘Lilliput’ thrives in full sun, requiring at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to perform its best.

Soil: This tulip requires well-drained soil to prevent bulb rot and other moisture-related issues. A sandy or loamy soil with good drainage is ideal. If your garden soil is heavy clay, consider amending it with sand or organic matter to improve drainage.

Planting: Plant ‘Lilliput’ bulbs in the fall, between September and November, to ensure they establish roots before the winter cold. Plant the bulbs at a depth of 10 cm (4 inches) and space them about 10 cm (4 inches) apart. This depth and spacing help protect the bulbs from frost and provide enough room for the plants to grow.

Watering: After planting, water the bulbs well to help them settle into the soil. During the growing season, keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Reduce watering after the flowers have faded and the foliage begins to die back.

Fertilization: Apply a balanced fertilizer at the time of planting and again in early spring as growth begins. This helps support the development of strong roots and vibrant blooms.

Maintenance: Remove faded flowers after blooming to prevent the plant from putting energy into seed production. Allow the foliage to die back naturally after blooming, which typically takes about 6 weeks. The leaves are essential for photosynthesis, which helps replenish the bulb for the next year’s growth. Do not cut back unfaded foliage.

Pest and Disease Management:

  • Pests: Tulipa humilis ‘Lilliput’ can be susceptible to slugs, snails, and aphids. Regular monitoring and the use of appropriate pest control methods, such as organic slug pellets, barriers, and insecticidal soap, can help keep these pests in check.
  • Diseases: This tulip may suffer from bulb rot, root rot, gray mold, and nematodes. To prevent these issues, ensure proper planting depth and spacing, avoid overwatering, and remove any diseased plants promptly.

Propagation by Division: Tulipa humilis ‘Lilliput’ can be propagated by dividing the bulbs. This is best done in the fall when the bulbs are dormant. When clumps become overcrowded, gently dig up the bulbs and separate the offsets from the main bulb. Replant the divided bulbs immediately at the same depth as the original planting.

  1. Digging Up: Carefully dig up the bulbs in the fall, avoiding damage to the bulbs.
  2. Separating: Separate the smaller offset bulbs from the main bulb. Discard any bulbs that show signs of disease or rot.
  3. Replanting: Replant the bulbs 10 cm (4 inches) deep and 10 cm (4 inches) apart in well-drained soil. Water well after planting to help the bulbs settle.

Landscape Uses

Tulipa humilis ‘Lilliput’ is an excellent choice for rock gardens, where its small size and vibrant flowers can be showcased among rocks and other low-growing plants. It also works well in borders, containers, and naturalized areas, providing a bright splash of color in early spring. The compact growth habit and striking blooms make ‘Lilliput’ a versatile and attractive addition to any garden.

In conclusion, Tulipa humilis ‘Lilliput’ is a delightful, easy-to-grow tulip that brings vibrant color and charm to the garden. Its small size and beautiful flowers make it an ideal choice for gardeners looking to add a touch of spring brilliance to their outdoor spaces. With proper care and attention, ‘Lilliput’ will reward you with a stunning display year after year.

Tulipa humilis 'Lilliput'
Tulipa humilis ‘Lilliput’

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