Featured Flower: Tulips
Featured Flowers: Tulips
Although usually associated with Holland, tulips originated in Persia, and are indigenous to Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey. Tulips are believed to have come to Europe in the 16th century. In almost no time at all, tulips became a very popular flower, especially in Holland and France. Even today, we refer to varieties of tulips as being "Dutch Tulips" or "French Tulips", despite their origins.
Unlike most flowers, tulips cannot be grown in a warm tropical climate, since they require a cold period to induce plant growth. Tulips are one of the few flowers whose stems continue to grow after they bloom. It is thought that in nature, the pointed blossom helps the flower push through any remaining snow, and the stem's elongation lifts the blossom above the snow and away from the parent bulb. Warmth and light seem to trigger this behavior. In modern arrangements of cut tulips, the stem's elongation gives rise to the charachteristc graceful gooseneck bends in vased arrangements.
Dutch tulips usually have a smaller bloom and a shorter stem, while French tulips have a considerably larger blossom and longer stem. Both varieties are available in an amazing assortment of colors. Another type of tulip popular in floral shops is the parrot tulip, whose petals have feathered or fringed edges.
Tulips are available pretty much throught the year, thanks to modern coldhouses and cultivation in the southern hemisphere. For field grown tulips in the northern hemisphere, the peak season is December through April. Thanks to their colors and availability, tulips are gaining more and more popularity at Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. During "field season" in the US, most tulips are grown domestically or are imported from Holland. Tulips in the summer are usually imported from South Africa, Australia or New Zealand.
In nature, tulips prefer cool. To help your tulip arrangement last longer, keep it in a cool location, away from direct heat. Since tulips bend toward light, it's a good idea to rotate a tulip arrangement every day, or place them in a spot with even light. If you did not receive a packet of flower food with your arrangement, the water should be changed and the stems should be recut daily. Tulips are also sensitive to ethylene gas, which is given off by ripening fruit, so keep flowers and fruit away from one another.
Brand Flowers and the Sun Valley Group are two leading growers of tulips. If you're planning an event which will include tulips, their websites are a good resource. Their flowers are available through your local florist (they do not sell direct to consumers), so when you find something you like, talk to your local florist to arrange the details.
"Tempting Tulips", Floral Management v24 n11
Brand Flowers (http://www.brandflowers.com/05_guide_ft.html)
Sun Valley Group (http://www.thesunvalleygroup.com/thesunvalleygroup/FlowerTypes.cfm?type=Tulip&site=svf)