Tulip cultivars 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. These true bulbs have compressed stems with special scalelike leaves that serve as storage tissue, providing food that allows the bulbs to produce flowers and foliage.
Tulips are available in hues of red, pink, orange, yellow, purple, white and bicolors. Tulips in the Viridiflora group are bicolor species; one of the colors is always green.
Potted tulips should last from seven to 14 days. Decorative life varies greatly depending on cultivar, temperature, light levels and stage of development when purchased (see “Quality Checklist”).
More than 3,000 cultivars of tulips are available.
Tulip plants are available in the fall, winter and spring, generally from about mid-September through mid-May.
WATER Check the pots frequently, and keep the soil moist at all times.
LIGHT Keep the plants in well-lit conditions but away from direct sunlight.
TEMPERATURE Display plants at cool temperatures (as low as 45 F). Advise customers to keep their plants in similar cool environments.
STORAGE Potted tulips can be stored at 33 F to 35 F for three to five days.
HUMIDITY Medium humidity is best.
FERTILIZER None is needed. All the food tulips need is stored in the bulbs.
REBLOOMING Potted bulbs usually are too spent to save and rebloom, but it is worth a try.
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Tulips are sensitive to high levels of ethylene gas.
PESTS Aphids are the most common problem on tulips. They usually can be controlled by washing them off.
DISEASES The most common disease affecting tulips is Botrytis, which can be avoided by watering in the morning.
ELONGATION Tulip stems often elongate, making them grow out of their place in pots. Growers can apply growth regulators to reduce this elongation. If the plants become “leggy,” support the stems with plant stakes.
BUDS Choose 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 for consumers.
BLOOMS Check the blossoms for any signs of rot, bruising or wilt.
FOLIAGE Check the foliage for any signs of rot, bruising or breakage.