10 Vibrant Tulips that will Cure Your Fear of Color

Are you chromophobic? Do you have a fear of color? While I don’t know anyone who truly suffers from chomophobia I do know people who are hesitant to incorporate color in their home or garden for fear of making the wrong choice. In fact, I used to be one of those people. I stuck to a palette of pastels and creams, but now my favorite color is orange. How did I get over my anxiety? Tulips. The varieties ‘Temple of Beauty’, ‘Perestroika’ and ‘Menton’ to be exact. Tulips offer a wide variety of bold colors without the commitment. Once you start experimenting with them you’ll be hooked.

Here are 10 tulip varieties and combinations to help cure your apprehension. These are my favorites from past springs. I encourage you to use these photos as inspiration to create your own vibrant combinations. I think you’ll find that color isn’t that scary after all.

Ease into red by selecting cool hues such as garnet or magenta. This is a mix of maroon (‘Black Parrot’), cherry red (‘King’s Blood’) and fiery red (‘Red Shine’). It’s especially marvelous when lit by the setting sun.

Tulips in shades of reds and maroon.

I’m crazy for orange, especially when paired with blues, pinks and purples. This trio of tulips matches orange with salmon and pink. Sticking to one color family creates harmony.

Pink, orange and salmon tulips.

‘Wirosa’ tulips make a blue-ribbon display with their large (up to 4-inches), peony-type blooms.

Pink and white Wirosa tulips.

Pink tulips cater to my love of cool colors while still being bright and cheerful. I love to blend pink and deep maroon. The dark ‘Queen of the Night’ gives depth to this planting of hot pink ‘Renown’ and ‘Survivor’.

Dark maroon tulips with pink tulips.

I love to use bright yellow in the spring garden when landscape it still fresh and the sunlight soft. Peony-flowering ‘Monte Carlo’ is a cheerful accent to the wine-colored ‘Negrita’ and orange ‘Princess Irene.’

Yellow peony tulips, purple and orange tulips.

Doesn’t this look like a basket full of Easter eggs? Here ‘Temple of Beauty’ is toned down by pairing it with the pastel petals of ‘Mrs. John Scheepers’, ‘Fringed Elegance’ and ‘Blushing Beauty’.

Pastel tulips.

‘World Expression’ is a good compromise for those of you who aren’t ready to jump into the color pond with both feet. The flowers open yellow with red flames. Over time the yellow fades to a beautiful ivory. Think goblets of strawberries and cream.

World Expression Tulips

‘Chato’ is a neon pink, multi-petal tulip that will electrify your garden. I planted them in a generous drift but imagine these satin blooms mixed with purple and orange tulips and a chartreuse groundcover such as creeping Jenny.

Bright pink Chato tulips.

Here’s a tip that will boost your color confidence. Select one hue to dominate and a few others in the same family or on the same side of the spectrum to expand your palette. To make it really interesting drop in a contrasting color. Here red is the lead color (‘Red Impressions’, ‘Red Shine’, ‘Apeldoorn’), which I’ve bolstered with warm orange (‘Daydream’) and yellow (‘Golden Parade’). ‘Queen of the Night’ adds an unexpected accent of cool burgundy.

Orange, yellow, red and wine colored tulips.

You’ll find lots of tulips in rich shades of orange. I think purple is a gorgeous partner for this glowing color. When pairing contrasting colors let one color rule. In this bed I planted a scattering of purple (‘Attila’) among the orange (‘Juan’).

P. Allen Smith with orange and purple tulips.
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