I have tried several times to plant tulips and have mixed results. They all do well the first year, but after that some varieties consistently die and others thrive and spread. After a little research, I found that this is common among Holland-grown tulips. Some varieties are perennial and some aren't. I have two questions. The first is, how do people in Holland maintain and multiply the non-perennial tulips? More importantly, is there a listing of tulip varieties, showing which are perennial?
Tulip growers will claim that all tulips are perennial in the right conditions. Planting them deep, up to 8" deep, seems to help as well.
I have found that Darwin Hybrids are the best for my alkaline clay based soil in USDA zone 4. These "perennial" tulips are the result of crossing the old Darwin Tulips with Fosteriana Tulips, which grow wild.
However, without a doubt the most bombproof tulips are the species tulips. What they lack in height they make up for in toughness. Yes, they don't have the eye popping splash that their larger cousins do but for someone who likes something different and tough they will do well.