Along with the rose, lily and orchid, the tulip can be considered a truly iconic flower. Its long, colourful history, combined with its perennial popularity lift the tulip into a class almost on their own. With the advent of ‘Ice Tulips’, where the bulbs are forced into flower and grown out of season in cooled glasshouses, tulips have become the second most popular flower on the Dutch Auction System, with 680 million stems sold in 2004.
There are about 100 tulip species, but the ones we see used as cut flowers today have all been bred specifically for this purpose and are generally more spectacular than the wild forms. Tulips can be found in every colour except blue or black, although some of the dark purple cultivars like ‘Negrita’ or ‘Queen of Night’ can look very close to black sometimes. Apart from the classic turban-shaped flowers, there are the frilled parrot tulips, and some varieties are striped or variegated. This striping can also be caused by a virus, but it has been almost completely eradicated in commercial stock.
In summer and autumn, tulip bulbs are forced into flower and grown in cooled glasshouses. Most supplies come from the hills east of Melbourne, and Tasmania. In winter and spring tulips are also grown in the field, again in the cooler regions of Victoria and Tasmania.
Types: Typical tulip (Darwin hybrid), Parrot
Language: (General) – Perfect lover, Fame, Flower emblem of Holland, (Red) – Believe me, Declaration of love, (Variegated) – Beautiful eyes
Birth Flower: July
What to look for
- Flowers are not fully open, and buds show colour;
- White and pale yellow varieties can be bought when buds are green;
- Strong stems that easily hold flower heads;
- Glossy green leaves with no blotches;
- Avoid bunches with drooping flowers or yellow leaves.
- Keep cool whenever possible.
- Split bunches and strip leaves from the lower half of each stem.
- Wash mud and dirt from each stem end.
- Recut at least 2 cm off each stem with sharp secateurs and place in cold water immediately.
- Never bash or split stems.
- NO Preservative – it is better just to add a teaspoon of bleach per half-filled bucket.
- Replace water every day.
- Tulip stems continue to grow towards the light in the vase, which can result in twisted stems. To straighten stems, wrap bunches tightly in clean paper (not newspaper) and place in deep cold water for a few hours.
- Never mix tulips with fresh Narcissus.
Interesting Facts about this Flower
The name comes from the Turkish word ‘dulband’ meaning ‘turban’.
In the 17th century ‘Tulipmania’ saw the price of tulip bulbs skyrocket in The Netherlands.
The tulip is the national flower of Iran and Turkey, and tulip motifs feature prominently in Persian and Turkish folk arts. It is also considered the unofficial emblem of The Netherlands.
In the language of flowers a tulip of any colour means ‘perfect lover’, while red tulips mean ‘a declaration of love’. A striped or variegated tulip means ‘beautiful eyes’.
Botanical Name: Tulipa hybrids
Common Names: Tulip
Stem Length: 30 to 80 cm
Country of Origin: Middle East
Available Colours: Cream, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow