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Coming Soon: Fancy Tulips

Spring is finally here, yet I am sitting here enjoying my cappuccino while looking out at another wave of winter weather. I'm not worried at this time, though, because snow is an insulator. I'd be more concerned if we experienced cold temps without snow. While the daffodils are just beginning their season and forced out-of-season tulips are wrapping up theirs, field tulips won't be here for another month or so.

Locally grown specialty tulips are more than worthy of your attention. Farmers typically grow them as an annual to maximize stem length. They are more labor intensive than most other bulb crops because of this, but their diversity is something to behold. They arrive before local peonies, making them a welcome focal flower. They bloom along with some of the best flowering branches of the year, too, as well as the early verdant foliage of mid spring. Some of them are fragrant. My favorite bouquets and arrangements show up in May.

Color & Form

Tulips have a remarkable range of colors, from the purest whites to the most saturated rainbow colors to the most elegant pastels. Some of my favorite tulips (Viridiflora) even have green petals. In fact, the only color that is not possible in tulip genetics is blue!

Tulips also have diversity of form. Some of the most popular locally-grown tulips are fully double and look almost like peonies. Nowadays I grow a large number of singles, which are the ones you are probably used to encountering in spring. They have just one layer of petals, but when they are fully blown open they look almost like a lily. Others are fringed at the edges, and others are ruffled like feathers.


Tulips are one of the most popular choices for winter cut flower production. Because they require chill hours, they either need to receive that naturally outdoors or be purchased having already been chilled. In a typical unheated basement it will take about three months to force pre-chilled bulbs. While I don't force tulips, other growers in CNY do, and offer them for Valentine's Day and Easter. You can find some right now from the Flower Collective of Central New York.

Field grown tulips on my farm are available from the first week of May through the end of the month. When stored dry in the cooler with the bulb still attached, it's possible to keep tulips for an additional month. I have also tried wet storage without the bulb attached to save space, and in this case I have successfully stored them for up to14 days.

Compatible Ingredients

Tulips bloom during a time of abundance on the farm. We grow a variety of local foliage like pea vine, currant, and viburnum that add a vibrant, warm green base. Flowering fruit branches like apple and cherry, lilac, and Viburnum opulus bloom at the same time. One of my favorite bulbs, Leucojum aestivum, blooms during tulip season and breaks up the greenery with its dangling white bells. Late flowering daffodils are still available during the first half of May as well.

Color palette is very grounding during the crop planning process. The presence of purple, lavender, periwinkle, green, white, apricot, and yellow in my perennials and woodies brings focus to my tulip shopping because I want ingredients to mix and match cohesively. I tend to stay away from saturated reds.

Varieties We Have in 2024

Candy Prince: a pale lavender single that blooms early and perfectly matches our common and President Grevy Lilacs

Apricot Beauty: a rosy apricot single that is said to smell like sugar cookies, it will blend well with our buttercream, coral, and pale yellow daffodils and our Charles Joly lilacs

Princess Irene: a fragrant orange and purple single bicolor tulip that I chose to mix with double burgundy tulips and Charles Joly burgundy lilacs

Amazing Parrot: a juicy rose-pink and orange tulip with large, ruffled petals

Spring Green: a viridiflora that starts green and fades to cream as it ages

China Town: a viridiflora with streaks of green, pale pink, and creamy white, plus variegated leaves

Alison Bradley: a dark burgundy-purple double that looks like a peony

Foxy Foxtrot: a fragrant pale yellow and apricot double that looks like a peony and smells like lemon loaf

Columbus: a vibrant hot pink double with petals that are edged in white

Where to Buy

As with all of our wholesale products, if you are interested in purchasing tulips, you must join and shop through The Flower Collective of Central New York.

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