The tulip: In the March Flower Agenda

We are celebrating the month in which spring begins with the tulip. The flower from the Tulipa genus exudes freshness, sturdiness and colour, and helps to bring spring a step closer. Growers therefore do their best to supply the flower as early as possible by forcing the tulip to bloom. You can download inspirational images of the tulip at the bottom of this article and use them free of charge if you credit Happy March!

Clogs, windmills and tulips: the Dutch trinity. Aren't they? Well not quite. The flower originates from Turkey, where Ottoman sultans wore a tulip on their turban. The first shipment of tulip bulbs arrived in Antwerp in 1562, marking the start of Dutch bulb growing. New shapes and colours quickly developed and filled the fields of Holland.

Range & assortment
Nowadays over 3000 cultivars of tulip bulbs are grown on 10,000 hectares in the Netherlands. Of those cultivars, some 600 are available in the cut flower trade. Breeding has now created fifteen groups of tulips, classified by leaf and flower shape, natural flowering period and/or height. Tulips come in almost all the colours of the spectrum, including flowers edged with fringes, green splashes in the flower and double flowers that could almost pass for peonies.

What to look for when buying tulips 

  • The weight determines the tulip’s appearance. Large bulbs produce the heaviest tulips with the biggest flowers.
  • The height and stage of ripeness must correspond. This stage of ripeness is expressed in numbers from 1 (unripe) to 5 (ripe).
  • The flowers must be healthy when buying tulips. Tulips sometime suffer from botrytis or have yellow leaf tips. Weak, shiny spots on the stem indicate ‘tippers’ or ‘water stems’, which will not be sturdy in the vase.
  • Some growers pre-treat tulips in order to reduce the growth of the stems and counteract leaf yellowing.

Care tips for professionals 

  • Tulips can easily grow another 5 to 15 cm in the bucket. You can prevent them from growing too much by keeping them for a short period and in cool conditions. Place them on a shallow layer of water.
  • Tightly wrap tulips in paper to make them nice and firm and prevent them from growing crooked.
  • Work in clean and dry conditions: botrytis can easily affect these fresh, leafy flowers.
  • If you are using tulips in a bouquet or arrangement, allow for the growth spurt.
  • Add bulb flower food to a mixed bouquet of tulips and narcissi. Narcissi exude slime after being cut - the food prevents this from damaging the tulips.

Display tips for professionals
The peak tulip season runs from January to mid-April. You therefore have the pick of all the types and colours in March. A sizable bouquet with tulips in different colours is simple but irresistible. Fancy some thing more traditional? The elegant shape of parrot tulips fits perfectly in beautiful 17th century style still-lives, combined with ranunculus, carnations, hydrangea and eucalyptus, for example.

Care tips for customers 

  • When choosing a vase allow for the fact that the tulips will grow by a couple of centimeters.
  • Ensure that the vase is clean and fill it with cold tap water and the supplied cut flower food.
  • Make sure  that there are no leaves hanging in the water. Remove the bottom leaves if necessary.
  • Cut 3 to 5 cm off the stem.
  • Place the vase in a draught-free spot, as cool as possible. Do not place the tulips near fruit, since this will accelerate the ageing of the flowers.
  • Tulips are thirsty. Regularly check the water level in the vase and top up with cold tap water when necessary.
  • Trim drooping tulips again, wrap them in strong paper and leave them to drink their fill in the water for an hour. They will then be beautifully upright again.

You can download the below poster to print and use:
A3 UK Poster Tulip March

Inspiration & information
Inspiring images of every flower on the Flower Agenda have been produced in line with the Horticulture Sector Trends 2020 (Groenbranche Trends 2020). These trends are a translation of the latest consumer trends aimed at the horticulture sector.

The tulip is on the Flower Agenda in March
You can download and use these inspiration images free of charge if you credit
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2020 Tulp 1
Tulip - March Flower Agenda
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