The short answer to this question should be "YES!"... but of course, like most things, it's more complicated than that.
Technically all tulips should be perennial. However, there are at least two factors that play a big role in whether or not they will be reliable in their subsequent growing years.
Here on Vancouver Island, our gardens rarely offer the conditions that tulips prefer. Tulips' native climate is in the mountains where it is often dry and there are hot summers and cold winters. Without these conditions, tulips have a hard time forming a flower bud. While there are some things that can help, like planting your tulips in mounds so that they drain well, planting tulips to the right depth (3x deeper than the bulb is tall), letting the tulip leaves die back naturally (the leaves are how the plant stores energy to form the flower bulb) and fertilizing your tulip bulbs annually with a phosphorus-rich fertilizer, it's not a guaranteed win.
Most of the beautiful unique blooms that we love are the result of years and years of hybridizing. These have been bred with the focus on producing beautiful unique blooms on a strong stem for flower production and not with a focus on repeat blooming in subsequent years. These varieties are generally intended to be treated as annuals... grown once, dug up when they have finished blooming, and new bulbs planted again for the next year's display.
Having said all this, Darwin and Triumph tulips are some of the strongest tulips in the industry and will generally come back for some years. Every year, however, the energy of the bulb diminishes so the flowers will become smaller and smaller.
If you are looking for bulbs that are easy to naturalize then we recommend daffodils, allium, snowdrops or crocus.
So to sum it all up, while tulips are technically a perennial, they often fade after the first year, so they're best treated as annuals and planted every year. Those that do rebloom the next year will be a much-appreciated bonus!
Our wholesale-direct group ordering deadline is this Sunday - April 10, 2022. Make sure you join our wholesale-direct group ordering program to submit your order before the deadline so that you can fill your garden with some of these beauties at a wholesale discount!