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Blooming Plants
  Blooming Plant of the Month

Scientific Name
Tulipa (TU-li-pa)
Common Names

Tulips are true bulbs—they have compressed stems with special scalelike leaves that serve as storage tissue, providing food that allows the bulbs to produce flowers and foliage. The many cultivars of tulips are divided into 15 groups based on flower form, including single early and late, double early and late, lily-flowered (pointed petals), parrot, Triumph and fringed. Some cultivars have fragrant flowers.
There are more than 3,000 cultivars of tulips available in red, yellow, orange, pink, purple, white and bicolors.
Decorative Life
This varies greatly depending on cultivar, temperature, light levels and stage of development when purchased (see “Quality Checklist”). Generally, potted tulips should last from a week to 14 days.
The top 20 cultivars represent the majority of tulips that are sold, and most come from Holland.
Tulip plants are available in the fall, winter and spring, generally from about mid-September through mid-May.

1 Upon arrival, remove the plants from the shipping boxes by grasping their protective sleeves and lifting the plants out.
2 Carefully remove each sleeve by tearing upward along the seam upward from the bottom.
3 Inspect plant variety, size, color, and quality.
4 Remove any damaged stems, leaves, and blooms.
5 Inspect each plant for disease or damage. Isolate diseased or damaged plants, and report them to the grower or buying office immediately.
6 Determine water needs by pressing a finger into the soil or testing with a moisture meter.
7 Water each plant, as necessary, with room-temperature water, and allow excess water to drain from each pot.
8 Dress plants with decorative pot covers, foil/cellophane treatments, ribbon, and/or picks; price them; and place them into your displays.

In-store care
Keep in well-lit conditions but away from direct sunlight.
Display plants at cool temperatures (as low as 45 F) away from heating ducts.
Potted tulips may be stored at 33 F to 35 F for three to five days.

Tulips are sensitive to only high levels of ethylene.
Aphids are the most common problem on tulips. They usually can be controlled by washing them off.
The most common disease affecting tulips is Botrytis, which can be avoided by watering in the morning.
Tulip stems often elongate, making them grow out of their place in pots. Growers can apply growth regulators to reduce this elongation.

Quality Checklist
Choose and sell tulips when the buds are still green or just beginning to show a tinge of color. The tighter the flower buds, the longer the plants will last.
Check the blossoms for any signs of rot, bruising or wilt.
Check the foliage for any signs of rot, bruising or breakage. If the plants become “leggy,” use plant stakes to give the stems support.

Fun Facts

The name “tulip” is the Latin version of the Arabic word “dulband” (turban). The name was applied because Turkish men tucked tulips into the folds of their turbans.
Tulips are members of the Liliaceae (lily) family. Common relatives include lily, hyacinth, Ornithogalum, Asparagus, Hosta and Aloe.
These plants originate from the Mediterranean to China. For the past 400 years, they have been extensively hybridized. All of the tulips sold as potted plants are hybrid cultivars. Holland, which dominates world production with 80 percent of the world market, produces 3 billion bulbs a year on 21,078 acres. In the United States, there is limited production on the West Coast and in Michigan.
During the 17th century in Holland, the popularity of tulips resulted in “Tulipomania,” and bulbs were incredibly expensive and the subject of financial speculation that resulted in both extreme wealth and finally poverty when the market crashed. The most prized tulips were the “broken,” or striped, flower forms. This condition
is now known to be the result of a virus infection in the bulbs.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology lists this species as an allergy-safe pollen-producing plant.

Consumer Care Tips
Check the pots frequently, and water to keep the soil moist at all times.
Tulips prefer bright light, or the stems will become weak and elongated. Keep interior light levels at 50 to 100 foot-candles or higher. They can be kept in or near windows where the light is indirect. Keep the pots away from heat sources, such as televisions and heat ducts.
Potted tulip plants are responsive to interior temperatures. They prefer cool rooms. It is beneficial to store the plants in garages or similar cool environments at night.
Medium humidity is best.
None is needed. All the food tulips need is stored in the bulbs.
Potted bulbs usually are too spent to save and rebloom, but it is worth a try.

Images courtesy of Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center

Some information provided by:
The Department of Horticulture at Clemson University,
The San Francisco Wholesale Flower Mart, San Francisco, Calif.,
Chain of Life NetworkÆ,
SAF’s Flower & Plant Care manual
Reach Blooming Plant of the Month writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at or(415) 239-3140.

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Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2005
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.