Tulips tips from the experts

    by Tianna G. Hansen

    Tulips are a well-known harbinger of spring and warmer weather, with their vibrant colors and early blooms.

    The April meeting of Martha Washington Garden Club featured experts from Holland Ridge Farms in Cream Ridge, NJ, giving the low-down on all things tulip.

    The Jansen family, who run the farm, holds an annual Tulip Festival where they feature tulips in every variety for the public to enjoy.

    Marco Jurjevich and his son, Chase Jansen, shared some of their knowledge with the garden club.

    The garden club’s program also featured a special guest Sam Langelaan from Holland, Netherlands, who also shared tulip knowledge.

    “Tulips grow in different areas,” says Sam. “Their growth is dependent on soil nutrients – some soils have diseases so you have to move the tulips and bulbs to keep the nutrients rich.”

    Once you plant a seed, you can expect to see a vibrant flower almost six years later.

    It’s a long but worthwhile process.

    While Marco and Chase are tulip farmers as well, their focus is on producing the beautiful flowers we know and love.

    The farm that Sam works on is more concerned with the bulbs, and has a yearlong process of harvesting and cultivating the very best, most productive bulbs.

    Sam is a third generation bulb producer and sells tulip bulbs to farms like Holland Ridge.

    Their focus is on the health and longevity of the bulbs so their process of tulip farming is very different to what Marco and Chase deal with at Holland Ridge.

    “The entire process is ongoing,” Sam said. “We start planting in September or October and will see leaves coming out of the ground in May.”

    Between the seasons, the farmers walk through the fields and clear out all the bad bulbs, and once the flowers begin to bloom, machines chop off the head of the flower in order to keep the energy for the bulb.

    The bulbs will be ready for harvest in June.

    “The entire field takes about 20 years to produce fully,” Sam said.

    Once you plant seeds, you will get a flower within six years.

    The plant will begin by producing one bulb, then three bulbs, then nine bulbs and so on.

    There is what seems to be an endless variety of tulips and bulbs, over 2,000 named bulb types that are cultivated and harvested by tulip bulb farmers such as Marco, Chase and Sam.

    At the end of the program, each garden club member was given a beautiful bouquet of tulips from Holland Ridge Farm.

    “For best results with cut tulips for bouquets, pick flowers with closed petals for the longest lasting bloom,” says Marco.

    Place in cool water after cutting the ends with scissors and watch them open in vibrant colors.