Tulips – not just a colorful patchwork quilt in spring
The Netherlands is worldwide renowned for its flower fields. During spring a part of Holland turns into a natural colorful patchwork quilt. This phenomenon usually takes place in April. As the flowers are a product of nature, it is difficult to predict when exactly in April.
When do the tulips blossom?
In some years the tulips blossomed at the end of March already, but it also happened – after a long cold winter period – that the tulips only started blossoming at the beginning of May. Furthermore, it also depends on which variety has been planted. Some tulips bloom early, whereas other species blossom much later.
Where are the tulips grown?
Originally the province of South-Holland has been the Dutch flower field area. This is also the reason why the Keukenhof is located in this area. However, many bulb-growers have moved to the Alkmaar area in the past decades, which is in the northwest of Holland. Noordoostpolder has become a very popular bulb growing area as well. The soil is excellent for bulb growing and there is more land available. So nowadays you will find even more and bigger flower fields in these regions.
It’s all about the bulb
The flowers are not planted in order to treat us on a beautiful view during spring time. This is just a very pleasant side effect. The growers are growing because of the bulbs. Just before the tulips fully blossom, the colorful flowers are chopped off by machine. After that, the bulb does not have to feed the flower anymore. All the plants’ energy now concentrates on the reproduction process, resulting in the development of little bulbs around the original bulb. In June, when the leaves of the tulip have died, the bulbs are pulled out of the ground.
What happens with the bulbs?
The bulb roots are removed and the bulbs are sorted by size. The smallest bulbs are planted on the fields in October. These will become new flower fields during the next spring. Another part of the bulbs is going into forcers to produce cut flowers. The rest of the bulbs are sold.
Some export figures
Flower bulbs (not only tulips) are being exported to many countries in the world. Our biggest buyer is Germany, followed by the United States of America and China. Can you imagine 62% of all flower bulbs in the world are grown in Holland!?! Not bad for such a small country. The total export amount has been EUR 1,18 bln in 2016. And export is still growing!