We’re into tulip times here at Tiny Footprint Tulips, so I’m making a list of favorite varieties. I grew tulips for many years as a gardener, but after we started a cut flower business in 2020, I developed a different mindset about choosing flowers, and tulips have to be evaluated by cost and performance as a cut flower. Since the bulbs are expensive, tulips have to perform well! They bloom early in the year, so that makes them valuable, assuming they can last in the vase. Here’s my list after our fourth tulip season, with a Yes, No or Maybe for whether we should grow them again next year.
Parrot King – Yes, parrot tulips are so dramatic!
Orca – Yes, although the orange color is not always easy to blend into early spring bouquets.
Blue Diamond – Yes, small but mighty! Double purple, blends with early sweet peas.
White Marvel – Yes, simple but beautiful.
Exotic Emperor – Yes, a double white that’s especially unique, opening to show gold at the center.
Columbus – Yes, beautiful rose color edged in white, good vase life.
Big Eartha – No, it’s big all right, but the vase life is short.
Akebono – No, beautiful, but vase life is too short for our standards.
We also grew two tulips blends from Colorblends; we don’t know which varieties are included but I can evaluate them anyway.
Smooch – Maybe, stems are short and flowers on the small side
Gentle Giants – Yes, tall with large flowers, blooms very early, making it valuable.
One thing we learned this year is that it’s good to grow tulips in crates. I think next year we’ll switch to crates for any and all tulips we grow. In past years we found that some sites are better than others for tulips, probably due to light or soil. Crates can be moved, we can control the soil, so they seem to work better.
Row 1: Columbus; Blue Diamond combined with early sweet peas
Row 2: White Marvel (harvested before they're fully open); Akebono
Row 3: Mixed bouquet with orange Orca tulip and heirloom narcissus; Mixed tulip bunch
Row 4: Parrot King; Exotic Emperor