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The Red Emperor Tulip

Red Emperor Tulips are so bright and dazzling that they demand attention anywhere they’re found. Their fiery-red, huge blooms can’t be ignored and will bring a touch of pizazz to wherever they grow.

Filling your yard with these brilliant beauties is easier than you may think. Read on to learn more about the Red Emperor Tulip, including a brief history, how to enjoy them, and how you can grow your very own tulip garden to enjoy for years to come!

Looking for Red Emperor Tulip bulbs? Check availability.

red emperor tulip (Madame Lefeber) blooming on the flowerbed

Characteristics of the Red Emperor Tulip

Red Emperor Tulips are one of the most popular tulip varieties in the world and for good reason!

These cherry-red tulips bloom early every spring. Their gorgeous blooms can often grow to be five inches wide. The tips of the blooms are slightly pointed, making them look a bit like a burning flame.

Their stems are thick and supportive, making them ideal for cutting and arranging into bouquets and vases. With the proper care, which you’ll learn in just a few minutes, these flowers can grow to be 16-20” tall.

One of the very best parts of the Red Emperor Tulip is the fact they are naturalizing. That means they not only return year after year, but they multiply and form even bigger groups of flowers!

History of the Red Emperor Tulip

Orange Emperor tulips similar to red emperor tulips

This variety has another name that helps tell its story. The Red Emperor Tulip is also known as Madame Lefeber because of the man who first discovered it, D.W. Lefeber.

He was an original tulip cultivator in the Netherlands and introduced this bright beauty in 1931. Since then, it’s won many awards and become known all over the world.

Ways to Enjoy the Red Emperor Tulip

You can enjoy the Red Emperor Tulip in your garden and inside your home!

In Your Garden

While a yard full of these tulips would be breathtaking on its own, you can take it up a notch by adding other beautiful spring flowers.

When planning what flowers to add to your tulips, consider the individual flower’s needs as well as the level of temptation they bring to wild critters.

Tulips need full sun and soil that drains easily. They’re also beloved by many animals like deer, chipmunks, and squirrels. It’s best to plant them with other bulbs that aren’t as tasty to try to protect them from becoming a midday snack. It won’t always work, but it’s easy to do and worth a shot.

For a garden bed that explodes with the joy of spring, plant your Red Emperor Tulips alongside bright yellow daffodils and gorgeously purple grape hyacinth. If you add some dainty crocus bulbs along the edge, there will be even more color!

In Your Home

Red Emporer Tulips can be enjoyed in a simple glass vase all by themselves or arranged with other garden-fresh flowers.

They’re well-suited for cutting because of their sturdy stems. While most tulips are notorious for weak and droopy stems, this variety holds up well and stays straight and strong.

They really shine in arrangements of other warm-colored flowers and pops of purple.

Most freshly cut tulips, if cut at the right time, will last up to 10 days with regular water changes!

Growing Your Own Red Emperor Tulip

Fosteriana tulips (Tulipa) Red Emperor bloom in a garden in April

Adding these tulips to your yard is easy with just a little bit of forethought and effort!

When to Plant Your Red Emperor Tulip Bulbs

Tulips need at least 10-14 weeks underground before they bloom. Because these bloom in the spring, that means they need to be planted in the fall.

You may buy your bulbs in advance and keep them in a cool, dry place until it’s time to put them into the ground.

The exact time of planting depends on your climate and zone since the soil needs to be cooled off from summer heat.

Planting could be as early as September in zones 3 to 5, but may need to wait until November or December in warm zones like zones 8 and 9.

Where to Plant Your Tulips

Tulips require at least 6 hours of bright, direct sunlight. The sunnier the spot, the happier they will be.

Because of their hardiness, Red Emperor Tulips can be grown just about anywhere. They can be planted along the road, next to your driveway, in a flower bed, or even in a large container!

If you choose to plant them in a container, make sure to choose one deep enough. It should be no smaller than 12” tall to provide enough space for roots to develop.

How to Plant Tulip Bulbs

Red Emperor Tulips need to be planted between 6”-8* deep. Since tulips do best with well-draining soil, try digging a few extra inches deep to loosen up the soil and make it easier for the roots to dig deep for the nutrients they need in the early days.

These tulips need to be planted 6” apart. They will naturally replicate and thicken as they grow over the seasons, so you may still end up with a solid row of regal red tulips after a couple of years, even placing them that far apart.

Make sure you’re planting them with the pointy end facing up.

Watering Your New Tulips

Immediately after planting your bulbs, water them thoroughly.

After that, give them a good watering once a week for the first month, and then… leave them alone! Don’t water them again until leaves pop up in the spring.

Once the leaves pop up, they still don’t need much water. If it rains, let them be. Water once a week during dry spells.

To Mulch or Not To Mulch

Adding a couple of inches of some sort of mulch may help keep the bulbs moist and the soil temperate more consistent over the cold winter months.

It’s not necessary, but if you’d like, add some pine straw or oak leaves on top of the soil after the ground has frozen. It will need to be cleared away before it’s time for them to sprout in the spring.

Caring For Your New Red Emperor Tulips

If you’re planning to cut the tulips to enjoy inside your home, you’ll need to cut them when they’ve got 75-80% of their final color. If you wait longer than that, the time you can enjoy them will be considerably shorter.

If your plan is to leave them in the garden, sit back, relax, and enjoy the enchanting blooms.

Inevitably, the blooms will begin to die back, no matter how much you love them. After that happens, deadhead the flowers to stop the plant from using energy on unneeded seed pods.

Let the greenery completely die, turn brown, and dry up before you clean it up. Next year’s blooms are forming in that time and it’s using every bit of the plant’s matter for energy.

Where to Buy Bulbs

Zinnia seedlings

While you can always check your local garden supply stores and nurseries, online retailers also have Red Emperor Tulip bulbs available.

We fully trust Nature Hills for all our flower seed and bulb needs!

Wrapping up the Red Emperor Tulip

The Red Emperor Tulip is a natural stunner and would be an extraordinary addition to your garden. Between their vibrant color, ease of care, and sturdy stems for cutting, it’s no wonder they’re among the most popular tulips in the world!

For even more tulip fun, spend some time looking through our Tulip Page.