Class 9: Rembrandt Tulips

These tulips are named for the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt (1606 - 1669), who lived and worked in Holland at about the same time that tulips first became enormously popular. Actually Rembrandt himself is not known for painting flowers (!), but many other Dutch Masters of the time did include tulips in their paintings.

During this time, tulips became all the rage in Holland, particularly the ones with streaks and stripes of colour. These types of tulips were bought for huge sums during the so-called Tulipmania that occurred between 1593 and 1637.

We now know that these unusual markings were actually caused by a virus, which eventually caused damage to the tulip bulbs. Because of this, the original Rembrandt Tulips are no longer sold commercially. However, there are quite a few modern, virus-free, Rembrandt "look-alike" tulips available, some of which I list below.

These modern Rembrandts are mutants of existing tulips, which additionally exhibit the stripes or streaks that are characteristic of Rembrandt Tulips. A few varieties have a fragrance; I have indicated which ones by putting an asterisk (*) after the name of the variety.

Flowering time:variable; depends on which tulip they mutated from
Plant height:variable; depends on which tulip they mutated from
Minimum planting depth:6" (15 cm)
Hardiness zones: suitable for zones 3 - 7
Colours:stripes or flames of red, yellow, purple, pink, bronze, brown, or black on a white, yellow, orange, or red background
Shape/form:variable; depends on which Tulip they mutated from.
Alternate names:Broken Tulips
Notes:good as cut flowers, and for beds and borders
Example varieties:All of the following varieties have Rembrandt colouring, although (in terms of size, form, flowering time, etc. ) they also belong to other classes:

1. Single Early: Keizerskroon* (red and yellow), Prince Carnival (yellow with red flames), Princess Irene* (orange with purple streaks)
3. Triumph Tulips: Ice Follies (white with dark red flames)
4. Darwin Hybrids: Burning Heart (white with red flames), Olympic Flame (yellow with red flames), Orange Bowl (red with yellow flames)
5. Single Late: Cordell Hull (white with red flames), La Courtine (yellow with red flames), Sorbet (white with raspberry flames), Union Jack (white with cherry red flames)
6. Lily-flowered: Mona Lisa (yellow with red streaks)

Olympic Flame Orange Bowl Keizerskroon

Union Jack Sorbet Ice Follies

Mona Lisa Princess Irene La Courtine

I did come across one variety which its sellers claimed was an original Rembrandt tulip, complete with virus. This was the variety "Zommerschoon", sold on the internet by Old House Gardens. Although the vendors claimed that this was an actual virus-carrying Rembrandt Tulip, I have no way of verifying this.


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Last modified: October 15, 2008