When people imagine tulips, they usually think of the traditional Dutch tulips with the unique shapes and bright coloring. However, there are several other flowers that look like tulips that you can plant too. We’re going to go over 13 great flowers that look like tulips you can try, and then we’ll highlight a few popular companion plants you can use to help fill in your garden all spring long.
1. Bellflower (Campanula)
Bellflowers have a very similar shape to tulips, and they grow best when you plant them in zones three to eight. These flowers that look like tulips work well in a border planting, or you can put them in a pretty floral arrangement. The flowers have a pretty blue color with a whitish-green center. Clusters of these flowers can quickly get covered in bright green foliage to make a stunning show. In warmer climates, this flower is best planted in partial sun or partial shade. In cooler growing zones, they can tolerate being in full sun without any damage. Don’t forget to water them frequently because they like to drink a lot, especially in the sun.
2. California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
Poppies are very colorful, and these flowers that look like tulips are part of the flowering poppy family, Papaveraceae. They are native to the western portion of the United States and Mexico’s northwestern area. It is a biennial or annual herb that grows up to two feet tall at full maturity. The leaves get alternately divided into narrow lobes, and the flowers form clusters of two or three or are solitary.
Each flower will produce four petals that get crumpled in the bud and open to show off bright yellow stamens. The fruit is a capsule, and it has very small seeds inside. California poppies are very widely cultivated as a pretty ornamental plant, especially in dry Mediterranean climate in dry gardens. You can find several cultivars that come in shades of yellow, orange, or white, and it’s very popular to add to dried flower arrangements.
3. Carpathian Bellflower (Campanula carpatica ‘Deep Blue Clips’)
This flower that looks like tulips is a hybrid that originates from the Czech Republic. It falls into the Campanulaceae family, and this family also has the common bellflower in it. Campanula is native to southern and central Europe in the mountains, and you can find it growing from Slovenia and Austria to Ukraine, Romania, and the Balkans.
Typically, you’ll find this plant growing in subalpine meadows, clearings, and forest edges at an altitude between 1,000 and 2,400 meters. Generally, this flower that looks like tulips grows to just below a foot tall, and the leaves are ovate, stalked, to lanceolate, and they have very sharply toothed margins. The flowers come out of a terminal cluster, and each flower is violet or blue with a corolla with five lobes.
These flowers that look like tulips survive in the winter to come back early in the spring. It’s part of the iris family, and it’s a genus of flowering plant. This is a smaller genus that only has roughly 30 species, and they’re native to subalpine meadows, woodlands, and rocky sites throughout Europe, North America, and the Mediterranean Basin. Crocuses are some of the first flowers to start to bloom in the spring, and the bright colors are welcome after a long winter.
5. Crown Imperial (Fritillaria imperial)
This is arguably one of the most striking flowers that look like tulips. It offers a pretty bloom in a trumpet shape with a very strong fragrance. The plant will top out at roughly two feet tall, and it blooms early in the springtime. Crown imperial is a bulbous plant that originates in Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan. You can propagate this plant by seed, but it’s usually best to divide the bulbs in spring or fall. The plant prefers to be in well-drained soil in full sun, and it’s a drought-tolerant option once it’s established.
Daffodils are an extremely popular spring flower, and for very good reason. They are very bright and cheerful, and they come in a range of colors. As a bonus, this flower is related to tulips. Daffodils fall into the Narcissus genus, and this includes 50 different flower species. The most common type of daffodil is actually Narcissus pseudonarcissus, or the wild daffodil. This species is native to Europe and the United States, and this is what most people picture when they hear daffodils.
Daffodils are also closely related to tulips. Both plants fall into the Liliaceae family, and this includes a huge range of flowering plants. Daffodils and tulips share many similarities, including the big, bulbous roots and the trumpet-shaped flowers. However, there are also several key differences in these flowers. For one point, daffodils produce six petals and tulips produce four. Also, daffodils bloom in the spring while tulips wait until early summer or later spring.
Fastigiatum is a flowering plant genus that falls into the Asteraceae family, and it’s native to Asia and Europe. This genus features six species, and every one of them are annuals. The flowers this plant produces come from inflorescences that look like tulips, and this is why they get the common name of the tulip flower. The blooms are usually yellow or white, but they can come in shades or red, purple, or pink.
8. Japanese Magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana)
Japanese magnolias are flowers that look like tulips that are actually hybrids that were created by Etienne Soulange-Bodin, a French nurseryman in 1820. It’s a cross between two native Asian species, M. liliiflora and M. denudata. The flowers are pink or white, and they produce a very sweet scent. The plant will grow to be between 20 or 30 feet wide and tall, so you have to give it room when you plant it. The size makes it a great focal point in your garden or landscape, and it’s hardy in zones four to nine.
Lisianthus is actually a genus that contains 35 flowering plant species, and they’re part of the Gentianaceae family. It’s native to the subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world, and the name comes from the Greek words for dissolved or melted and flower. These species are perennial or annual herbs that get just over two feet tall at full maturity, and they produce showy blooms and opposite leaves from singly, short panicles or racemes. The flowers have a tubular base with petals that spread, and they can be fringed. They usually come in pink, white, green, or yellow coloring.
These flowers that look like tulips are actually a very popular cut flower in temperate regions. It’s sometimes called eustoma, but this name actually refers to a closely-related genus called Eustoma. Several species get grown as ornamental plants in gardens, and there are several hybrids and cultivars available. It’s the national flower of Niue.
10. Little Volunteer Tulip Tree (Liriodendron ‘Little Volunteer’)
This is a deciduous tree that will top out at 15 to 20 feet tall at full maturity. The leaves are alternate and simple, and they produce a tulip-shaped leaf blade that is roughly two inches wide and four inches long. The flowers are greenish-yellow, and they have six petals that are fused at the base. The fruit forms a cone-like structure that has seeds. This tree is native to the eastern portion of the United States, from Florida to Maine. It’s a very popular option to landscape within the southern states.
The tulip tree is very tolerant of a broad range of soil conditions, and it prefers to be in full sun. It’s very tolerant of drought, and it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. It’s a stunning plant that can add interest to your garden or yard, and if you’re looking for a tree that is easy to care for and produces flowers that look like tulips, this is a great choice.
11. Mexican Prickly Poppy (Argemone mexicana)
Prickly poppies are thistles with pretty yellow flowers with cup shapes. They start to bloom in mid-spring to summer, and they can get up to 18 inches high. All parts of this plant are toxic, so you should be careful if you have small kids or pets running around, and you should wear thick garden gloves when you work with it. These flowers that look like tulips are classified as weeds in some regions, so double-check with your local authority before you add them to your yard or garden.
12. Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
The Pasque flower is part of the buttercup family, and it originates in Europe. This plant will get roughly 20 inches tall, and it produces lilac or blue-violet flowers. Each flower produces six petals that are roughly an inch wide, and the flower’s center is full of yellow stamens. They bloom very early in the spring, usually before most flowers. The name for these flowers that look like tulips comes from the latin word for Easter, pascha.
These flowers aren’t actually tulips, but they do have a very similar look. Both plants come with a yellow center and six petals, but these are the only similarities. They tend to grow in colder climates and bloom a lot earlier in the season than tulips. They are a member of the lily family, and pasque flowers are part of the buttercup family. They are a nice springtime plant to help add color to the garden, and they’re both easy to grow and low-maintenance. If you live in a colder climate, they’ll fit in well.
13. Tulip Trees (Liriodendron tulipifera)
The final flowers that look like tulips are tulip trees, and they’re native to North America in the eastern portion of the United States. This tree gets the name from the leaf shape as they look like tulips. It’s a very popular choice for landscaping because of the attractive foliage and showy flowers.
The flowers are a greenish-yellow color, and they form trumpet-shaped blooms. They come in clusters at the ends of the branches. This is a deciduous tree, so it loses leaves during the fall months. The leaves have a very distinctive shape and are large, and this tree tops out at 60 to 80 feet tall. Also, this tree can easily live upward of 100 years.
Flowers that Look Like Tulips – Companion Plants
If you’re looking for the perfect companion plants for your flowers that look like tulips, we’re going to help. There are many different plants that grow well alongside these flowers, and the most popular ones include:
1. Daylilies (Hemerocallis)
Daylilies work well to camouflage old spring flower foliage as they produce strappy, long leaves that cascade out from a centralized clump. Flowers have elongated, trumpet-shaped petals on them, and they bloom for a single day. Traditional daylilies come in yellow, but you can find newer cultivars in shades of white, red, pink, or purple.
Daylilies will start to grow while a lot of your flowers that look like tulips are showing, but they will get higher than most of them right when you need them to. Give them full sun and divide them every few years to prevent them from taking over your bulbs below the ground.
Also called pinks due to the sheared petal edges and their color palette, dianthus are repeat bloomers with blueish, soft foliage that grows like a groundcover. They work nicely with tulips since these perennials have a low profile and very similar growing requirements. Dianthus are stunningly planted in rock gardens and at the front of borders. They also survive well planted in containers, and if you want to put them in an above-ground arrangement, you can set them alongside tulips and other spring flowering bulbs.
3. Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)
Grape hyacinth produces low-growing flowers with inflorescence that look like a bunch of grapes, hence the name. They have bright green stems and foliage with light purple flowers. They’re the perfect plant to put around tulips in both looks and lack of nutrient competition. They may have a dainty size but they have huge personalities, and they produce singular stalks that look like asparagus spears in clusters of mini grapes. It blooms in the early spring and comes in shades of pink, blue, white, purple, and yellow.
You want to plant them in large quantities roughly three inches apart. They’ll quickly spread throughout your beds in subsequent years, so you should only plant them in areas where you don’t have to contain them. They do well in container gardens with crocus, tulips, daffodils, or other spring bulbs. They need 10 weeks for dormancy to flower the following year, so make sure it gets cold enough to push this dormancy period.
Since hostas need dappled or low light and don’t do well in direct, hot sun, it may seem odd that you’ll plant them around your tulips. However, they tend to work well together under tree canopies that are late to form leaves. Hosta varieties will range in size from tiny to huge, and they can create a strong background presence in your landscape to rise up and grow. They are easy to grow, and they’ll come back year after year.
Consider adding hostas when you’re planting early spring tulips that require full sun early in the spring but will need more shade as they finish blooming. Your browning tulip leaves will get enough sunlight to store up energy before the hosta leaves grow large enough to cover them.
5. Marigold (Tagetes spp)
Marigolds are season-long bloomers that produce vivid hues or yellow and orange, and they’re pest and disease-resistant. They produce fern-like foliage and love being under hot sunny conditions, so they pair nicely with tulips. They’re very tolerant of imperfect soil conditions and easy to grow, and they won’t compete for root space with your other plants.
Self-started seeds or nursery-bought sprouts can easily go between your tulip stems after they finish blooming, and the marigolds will grow quickly and fill in any empty spaces. Pick varieties from the African marigold family since they’re taller and you can pinch them off to get a bushier growth habit. Deadhead them diligently and you’ll get pretty flowers well into the fall until the first frost.
6. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
This plant grows very quickly from seed, and you can sow it directly into your tulip beds later in the spring months after the frost danger has passed. It produces mounds of peltate, dark green leaves that will reach up to four inches wide, and nasturtium’s foliage features a mound-like growth habit that will cover any faded foliage very well.
This genus has roughly 80 species, and they range from smaller specimens that top out at a foot tall to 10 foot vines that ramble. Flowers are usually orange, yellow, or red, and they’ll stick around until the first frost. As a bonus, this plant can repel aphids, and this can help protect your tulips. These flowers are also edible, and they feature a peppery taste.
7. Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana)
Pansies are bright purplish-yellow flowers that work well with any flower in your garden, even tulips. They’re very tolerant to the cold, and they grow nicely with spring bulbs. They come in a complementary yellow and purple coloring, and they have a very low profile in flower beds or flower boxes. They work well as a groundcover.
Also, pansies are hardy and they can survive a late-spring snow or frost in colder planting zones and bloom steadily until your temperatures start to rise. If you do live in a climate with intense heat, they may do well all year-round. In warmer climates, if you give them a little shade, they’ll throw seeds in the fall and act as perennials.
8. Sedum (Hylotelephium)
Sedum and tulips work like seasonal bookends. Tulips may kick spring off with a colorful show, and sedum closes out the season quietly. Sedum is very easy to identify, and it produces succulent-like foliage with rose-colored flowers. It blooms late in the summer and survives well into fall. Sedum is resistant to insects and diseases, and it’s extremely low-maintenance. The foliage will hide fading spring flower leaves as it fills in. The flowers may even last through winter, depending on your climate, to give food for foragers and birds.
9. Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum)
Daisies tend to bloom later than tulips, and this allows them to showcase their flowers against a green foliage. Since you can’t cut tulip leaves until they die back to the ground, it’s common for seasoned gardeners to use plants to hide them, and the shasta daisy does this wonderfully. The dark green, leathery foliage will naturally fill in around your spent tulip foliage and they’ll eventually produce a host of white, cheerful flowers with bright yellow centers. Since your daisies also take full sun and like soil that drains well, they work well as tulip companion plants.
10. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
These flowers are large, fragrant, and irregular with two-lipped growth habits that get collected in spike-shaped inflorescence that are bright red. They produce throated, small blooms in yellow, white, red, pink, purple, orange, and violet. They love cooler spring temperatures, just like tulips do. Snapdragons can work well in the tulip patch as seedlings or nursery transplants, and they’ll add structure and form to your design. In warmer areas, perennial snapdragons will pop from the ground around your tulip stems and bloom shorter after the tulips do.
11. Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)
The final companion plants for your flowers that look like tulips are zinnias. They pack a very tropical punch with the vivid, large flowers in yellow, red, pink, orange, and white hues. You can plant them between tulips when they start to fade, and the sprouts will grow very quickly and fill in around the tulip foliage. The flowers are around and multi-layered, and some come in a pom-pom shape while others are flat.
The flowers on this plant bloom in very bright colors, and the central disks will attract a range of pollinators. They require a heavy dose of sunshine each day to thrive, and they like soil that drains well. Zinnias can be low-growing plants to form a carpet-like layer or are leggy and tall. The root systems aren’t very extensive, and they won’t interfere with your tulip bulbs.
There are many pretty flowers that look like tulips you can plant and have thrive in your garden or yard. You should double-check and see how the sun conditions may change as the season progresses, and pick out flowers that can handle the difference. If you do, you’ll get full and vivid garden beds from very early spring until later in the fall months that you can’t wait to show off.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.