Plant Profile: Tulipa fosteriana ‘Zombie’

Tulipa 'Zombie' in bud

Do you remember, several months ago, when we were all potting up our spring bulbs …. each and every one of us full of excitement at the promise of the floral display that would follow? Well, here we are in springtime, confined to our homes and gardens (I refuse to mention the ‘c word’) which means that, from a positive perspective, we can fully enjoy the flurry of flowers currently nodding in the breeze and basking in the sunshine.

‘Zombie’ in full bloom

One such bloom is Tulipa fosteriana ‘Zombie’ which, in my opinion, has been given an unfortunate name. When one thinks of zombies one is reminded of the walking dead or the rather brilliant song by The Cranberries, rather than a very lovely tulip. Awful name or not, when I saw it in the catalogue I knew we had to have it.

Rhubard & Custard perfection

Tulipa ‘Zombie’ is a Fosteriana tulip, originally a wild species from the mountainous areas of Central Asia. The wild species is apparently no longer in cultivation, however ‘Zombie’ is a rather lovely cultivar with large flowers and glaucous-blue leaves.

How lovely is this tulip?

To my mind it’s a flower of two halves. On the outside of the petals there is a very striking vibrant-pink centre with a creamy-yellow stripe on either side, lending the closed flower the colour of a classic rhubarb & custard boiled sweet. The insides of the petals are the same creamy-yellow, until you reach the central bowl, which is marked by a shocking neon red ring filled with black. Maybe this central colouring is why it’s called ‘Zombie’? The inner really doesn’t match the outer at all.

Look at that colour.

Being tall with large flowers (around 25-50cms tall), ‘Zombie’ makes an excellent cut flower. Packed with bright colours it is certainly not a bloom to be considered for a traditional bridal bouquet, that’s for sure! What ‘Zombie’ lacks in understatement, it more than makes up for with its colourful presence in the garden, or in a pot on the patio. I only wish we had bought more, but perhaps that would have been gilding the lily?

This is my type of Zombie Apocalypse

As I’m sure you’re now salivating at the thought of ‘Zombie’ in your garden, why not put it on your list for next year? It’s truly a stunning flower to have in your collection and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. We got ours from J. Parker’s Wholesale. And, while you’re there, why not look up another gorgeous Fosteriana tulip called ‘Purissima Design’ that we have in the garden, with it’s large creamy white blooms and grey/green leaves edged in yellow? ….. I know, I’m a tease ….

Happy Gardening One and All.

The Beau

Tulip ‘Purissima Design’

19 thoughts on “Plant Profile: Tulipa fosteriana ‘Zombie’

  1. I just love these species tulips and I can grow them here! I have a number of them and they charm me because of the way they close when the sun sets to,show the outside of their petals and open in the morning to show their pretty insides, I have recently planted saved seeds from Tulipa clusiana ‘Lady Jane’ and am so hoping they will germinate. I don’t know if ‘Zombie’ is available here, but I’ll certainly keep a lookout for it.

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  2. Lovely to see these tulip photos! I was due to open my garden for the ngs in just less than 4 weeks’ time; in addition to a back gardenful of tulips, there are 38 big pots planted up especially for the April opening, and all coming into bud right on schedule – and nobody will see them!! I might have to wheelbarrow some of them round to the front, so that at least a few might spot them whilst out on their once-a-day exercise…….keep cheering us with your informative articles

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    1. Definitely share them with the passing locals, hopefully they will be uplifting in these strange times. We were also pondering a bulb ‘pop up’ for the NGS….oh well, fingers crossed for next year!

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  3. tulips are my favourites! all of the above mentioned grow in my little patch, too. But only zombie is out, so far. Much smaller than in previous years, too. Which surprises me after this mild winter.

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  4. Zombie does look so pretty I could take a bite of it. YUmmmm. It would be the only zombie I would want in my garden. I do like that Purissima too. I am sure the rabbits would love to gobble up those beautiful leaves as well.

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  5. The outside looks like tulip, but the inside looks like lily. It is rather garish. You sure have flashy taste. ‘Purissima Design’ sounds more appealing to my simple taste, although I suspect that if it is your garden, it is likely appropriately flashy. I think there is an even simpler (and likely unrelated) one that is now known as ‘Purissima’. (It might have been ‘White Emperor’ or something like that.) I won’t bother looking it up. That would ruin seeing it here. I bet it stays white like ‘Purissima’ but with some extra bling, or maybe the variegation of the foliage turns whiter.

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      1. I will see it when you post pictures. Cream sounds more uniform than I imagine, (rather than pure white with something extra) but like I say, I will see it when you post pictures.

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