Perhaps the most famous of the peony-flowering tulips, Angelique was developed by the famed tulip developer, D. W. Lefeber and introduced in 1959. She is a flawless, fragrant beauty with graceful, double petals of pale rose which are accented with darker pink blushes and pale creamy pink edges.
For many of us, tulips are far from mind in Fall when the leaves are changing and the burnt orange and crimson leaves are falling all around, but here at Birdsong Blooms, summer begins our tulip season!
There are so many spectacular varieties to choose from, but as a local cut flower farmer there are a few variables we consider as a priority. Stem length above 18 inches at a minimum. Form and silhouette that is both unique and graceful. Does it have sturdy stems for arranging? Is this a single, double, fringe, parrot, lily flowering, multi, triumph or giant Darwin? Is it early, mid, or late blooming in the Spring season? How do the primary colors change as the bloom ages?
Right now, millions of tulip bulbs harvested in the Netherlands, are traveling across American soil, arriving at doorsteps in nondescript USPS boxes. The most popular specialty cut varieties are a HOT commodity! We vie eagerly against platform crashes and fellow wholesale buyers to secure thousands of our customers favorites, and to showcase new treasures that we have discovered and wish to reintroduce to the market. A general rule of thumb is when your tulip bulbs arrive, place next year's order! Why do we do this you ask? Especially if tulips are perennial? Because we pull the bulb when we harvest the tulip.
This is a topic of immense discussion when we welcome new growers into the cut flower industry and I'm happy to share a bit here for the home gardener and flower enthusiast. It takes approximately five years for a parent tulip to reach flowering maturity from seed. Stalks are removed annually to ensure that the plant is sending all of it's resources into growing the parent bulb for sale to you and I. This is a huge task and a long term farming resource investment. Once the parent bulb reaches our family farm, our goal is for it to produce the most robust tulip possible for our customers. At Birdsong Blooms, we harvest tulips once the blooms have colored up and are just cracking open to ensure the longest vase life. The stems are pulled, bulb and all from our tulip beds, processed (soil and lower leaves removed) and stored dry (out of water) in our tulip cooler. By pulling the bulb, we are provided the still very much alive stem with the nutrients it needs in storage and it gives additional length to the cut stem which is desirable in our trade. Once an order is placed, the stems are removed from the cooler 24 hours in advance of delivery, bulbs removed and the bunch is placed into clean water to re-hydrate. There have been many stems that I would have never guessed could be revived from their advanced limp state and I am always surprised by the incredible revival!
Now, what about these bulbs? Can't we just replant them? Well, no. They are unable to produce a dependable designer quality cut flower the next year. Bulbs require their foliage to absorb the nutrients necessary to recharge for growth next year. We have removed all of these food sources from them. It takes on average, three years for an offset of a parent bulb to reach the flowering size necessary for professional floral work. When we are in need of the best outputs annually and reliably, we choose to pull the stem and bulb at harvest to maximize the longevity and vitality of that year's harvest.
You can experiment with varieties that have very long stems, where you may be able to leave 1/3 of the foliage for bulb regeneration, but as a professional cut flower farmer, you are taking the risk that next year won't live up to the expectations you have set with your current crop.
We love tulip season and look forward to providing expressive, original and timeless tulips for your customers. If you are not yet a floral customer of Birdsong Blooms, and would like to set up a wholesale account, please contact us at email@example.com.
Best of the Season,