Made famous by the Dutch and beloved as a beautiful springtime flower, tulips (Tulipa spp.) are diverse in color and flower form. Parrot tulips are classified into Division or Class 10, the Parrot Group. Growing from bulbs, Parrot tulips need a prolonged winter chill during their dormancy in a moist, well-draining soil to flower successfully.
A parrot tulip is single in form, comprising only six petals, or six tepals in a circular row. The blossom is cup-shaped and measure approximately 4 inches (10 cm) across. The flowers appear in mid to late spring, affording them the horticultural label of "late-season flowering."
The petals, or tepals, of the Parrot tulip are finely and irregularly cut or lobed on their edges. This makes a ruffled appearance that perhaps mimics the ruffled feathers of a parrot. There also often are streaks or stripes of different colors on the petals, adding to the visual excitement. Originally Parrot tulip varieties primarily included white, violet or pink hues, but modern varieties include tones of red, yellow, orange and green.
The foliage of Parrot tulips appears only in spring, alongside and after the flowering display. The leather, fleshy green leaves are between 4 and 14 inches long, depending on variety. The foliage remains for up to eight weeks after the flowering, producing food to replenish the underground bulb, or to make new bulbs. The leaves ripen to yellow and fade away by early summer.