Common name/s ?

Tulip 'Olympic Flame'

Skill rating



Middle East

Type of plant ?

Bulbous perennial

Hardiness zone ?

RHS zone


EGF zone


USDA zone


Eventual size

To 52.5cm height.

Growth rate ?

Fast from bulb; will reach full height in one or two seasons.

Shape it grows into

Upright, generally single stemmed flower.

Season/s of interest

'Mid-season' tulip, blooming mid April to early May.

Where to grow it

Happiest in full sun.
Prefers well drained soil.

Best in a sheltered location where the stems and petals won’t get damaged by the wind. However, tulips can be grown in colder, damper conditions (including clay soil), but in these situations it is best to lift the bulbs (see ‘how to look after it’ information).

Tulipa 'Olympic Flame'


Tulips are grown for their characteristic flowers. The flower is golden yellow with flame-like red stripes reaching up from the base of the tepals. This is a ‘Darwin hybrid‘ tulip.

What to use it for

In beds or borders tulips can add a real splash of spring colour to both formal and informal style gardens. They can also be grown in containers and are useful for flower arranging.

How to look after it

Tulip bulbs should be planted in the autumn (October/November) 10 to 15cm deep (only 8 to 10cm deep in clay or heavy soil). If you have wet soil then you can put a few centimetres of grit or stones under each bulb to help the water drain away from it.

In cool, damp areas, clay soil or areas to be used for different summer planting, tulip bulbs should be lifted when the foliage has died down and stored, labelled, in a dry place for replanting in autumn. They should be kept in a paper bag or similar to allow the bulbs to breathe. Tulips can be lifted regardless of the soil type, and most actually prefer this.

How to prune it

Deadhead after flowering, but let the foliage die down before cutting back and/or lifting the bulbs towards the end of spring (this allows the leaves to build up a store of energy for the plant to use the following year).

How to propagate it

Tulips can be propagated by division in early summer or autumn, or seeds in autumn. However, cultivars such as ‘Olympic Flame’ may not come true from seed or grow from seed at all, so it’s best divided.

Tulips can be divided when lifted in late spring/early summer or before replanting in autumn. Tulip bulbs will grow their own ‘offset’ bulbs (either on the original bulbs or at the end of their roots), which can simply be removed from the root and re-planted at 20cm depth to encourage them to flower. To encourage the growth of offsets, shallow plant the bulbs (about 2.5cm deep) or cut small notches into the basal plate.

The papery, winged seeds should be collected and kept dry in the spring to be sown in autumn. They will require a period of frost to geminate evenly.

Tulips hybridise easily, although many cultivars are sterile and therefore will not form seed.

Common problems

May be attacked by slugs (bulbs and foliage), aphids (foliage), eelworms (stem and bulb) and squirrels, mice and other rodents (bulbs in the ground or in store).

Prone to diseases including tulip fire (Botrytis tulipae), tulip breaking virus (also known as Rembrandt virus) and grey bulb rot (Rhizoctonia tuliparum).

Other useful information

Tulips appear to have originated in Persia, where they were seen as the symbol of perfect love (especially red tulips with a black centre). They were brought to Western Europe from Turkey in 1554 where they were grown in Vienna, then Holland and on to the rest of Europe.

In the 17th century ‘tulipomania’ hit Holland, with tulip bulbs changing hands for extraordinarily high prices. In February 1637 the bubble burst, prices dropped and many investors were left bankrupt as a result.

This cultivar was introduced in 1971 and is a sport of ‘Olympic Gold’. It holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit.