Tulips are perhaps some of the most beautiful and iconic spring flowers of all. Gardeners everywhere look forward to seeing the cheerful blooms each spring, but tulips are more than just a garden statement piece. Tulips can actually be an excellent source of additional income for your farm or hobby farm. Growing tulips as cut flowers and selling to florists and at farmers markets can produce an excellent profit for a minimum amount of work. But unlike planting tulips in your garden for pure enjoyment, there are some specific considerations and growing techniques to know before you grow.
Get Quality Bulbs
Whether you’re a home gardener or growing tulips for cut flower production, starting with healthy disease-free quality bulbs is critical. The main producer of tulip bulbs is the Netherlands, but many great importers in the U.S. bring in the highest quality tulip bulbs from the Dutch tulip sheds.
Look for a good quality wholesale supplier with a reputation for healthy and disease-free bulbs.
Pre-Chill in Warmer Climates
Tulips grow best in USDA growing zones 3 to 7. Any warmer than that and the tulips may not bloom properly or may have short stems. Tulips require a period of vernalization—a period of cold or cool—to bloom properly. Tulips require eight to 10 weeks of temperatures at 45 degrees F or under to bloom properly.
This is why tulips should be planted in the fall and allowed to overwinter.With that said, many warmer climates do not have this level of cold, so tulips can be pre-chilled for an additional charge by wholesalers or a walk-in cooler or fridge for six to eight weeks to help ensure a proper chill period.
Plant Using the Trench Method
Unlike tulips grown in the garden, where you’ll plant a bulb here and a bulb there, tulips grown for cut flowers should be planted using a trenching method. Basically, you’ll dig a large trench roughly 8 inches down and plant the bulbs in the trench like placing eggs in egg cartons.
Harvest with Bulb Attached
When harvesting your tulips in spring as a cut flower, it’s certainly tempting to just cut the flower stem. But tulip production is unique.
To preserve the life of the flower, tulips are harvested with their bulb attached. By leaving the bulb attached, you leave the tulip attached to the food source, and they can be stored for weeks in cool storage. Tulip growers can then cut the bulbs off and rehydrate the tulips for sale.
Sales Channels for Tulips
Once you master the art of growing tulips for cut flower production, it becomes critical to sell your flowers. Common sales outlets for tulips with local florists can easily fetch between $1 to $3 per stem, depending on the variety of tulips. Farmers market bouquets and grocery store sales can also produce excellent profits.Many other farms have had success with planting u-pick tulip fields, profiting off the cut flower sales as well as charging for photography sessions. This has proved an incredibly successful model. Overall, the opportunity to grow a successful additional income stream from growing tulips is very easily done. Thousands of tulips can be grown in a very small amount of space, yielding thousands of dollars in profits.