Tulips are among the most beloved spring flowers, with their elegant, long stems and familiar, cup-shaped blossoms. The 2- to- 3-inch flowers are known for their wide array of eye-catching colors; they are not, however, known for their fragrance. While they are not as commonplace as unscented varieties, tulips that produce a sweet, light scent can be obtained through catalogs and nurseries. Their fragrance may not be powerful enough to perfume the entire garden, but they do add a lovely aroma to floral arrangements and can be quite pleasant when experienced en masse.
Early tulips herald the arrival of spring by blooming from April to early May. Plant the Tulipa cultivars Apricot Beauty or General De Wet for fragrant, single blossoms in the first weeks of spring, as they readily fill the garden with cheerful, warmly colored flowers that give off a sweet, fruity fragrance. Choose the Tulipa cultivars Monte Carlo or Schoonoord for double blooms than emit a crisp, clean scent.
Mid-season tulips bloom several weeks later than early varieties producing bouquets of colorful flowers from late April to mid May. Mid-season tulips, such as the Tulipa cultivars Prinses Irene, Salmon Pearl and Daydream, turn out graceful, fragrant flowers that range in color from vivid orange and purple to soft pink and apricot. The pointed petals open into wide stars on sunny days and close each evening to form the characteristic egg-shaped, tulip flower.
Gardeners who plant late bulbs have to be patient, as their tulips will not bloom until the middle of May; however, many find it is worth the wait. Not only do late-season tulips bear blossoms that are unique in both form and color, they produce some of the most fragrant flowers in the tulip family. The Tulipa cultivars Angelique and Ballerina are lovely to behold. Both of these late-bloomers produce delicately scented, lightly tinted flowers and dense, deep green, strap-shaped foliage. Not only do they enhance the appearance of the garden, they make excellent cut flowers as they hold up well in bouquets, adding an elegant touch to any decor while filling the room with a subtle, fresh fragrance.
Plant group of tulips in the center of flower beds, or surround them with other plants, such as lush, green hostas and ferns, or late-blooming perennials and annuals. This way when the flowers fade in early summer, other plants will hide the unsightly, dying foliage. Alternatively, plant tulips beneath deciduous trees or shrubs. The spring-blooming bulbs will flower and fade before the leaves emerge to cast shade on the ground below.