Have you ever wondered why so many of the bulbs available on the market come from the Netherlands? Is it a clever marketing ploy, or are Dutch bulbs really the best? Find out about the huge bulbs industry in the Netherlands and discover why Dutch bulbs are recognised as the best bulbs you can get!
Although people in the Netherlands were already gardening with ornamental bulbs back in the 1600’s it was by no means the massive industry it is today. But then, dutch man Carolus Clusius got some exotic bulbs never before seen in Europe from a friend and began to do research to find out what they might be good for.
The bulbs were tulips, and the rest, as they say, is history! Plant breeders went to work, producing a range of wonderful colors that had never before occurred in the wild, and this ingenuity was used to improve other bulb species too. Interesting fact: absolutely none of the species of Dutch bulbs the Netherlands are famous for actually grow there in the wild.
Today, over 9 BILLION tulip bulbs are produced annually in the Netherlands, and if you planted them all up side by side 4 inches apart, they’d circle the earth seven times! That would be quite a pretty sight to see, wouldn’t it?
More than just tulips
No matter what species and varieties you prefer, chances are, you’ll find Dutch origins if you do a little digging into the history of your plants. More than 60% of the bulbs produced in the world come from the Netherlands, and 84% of the international trade in bulbs is Dutch-based.
About 1,500 growers produce all the bulbs, covering an amazing 22,000 hectares of agricultural land with a tapestry of color as the bulbs grow and develop until they reach the absolutely perfect flowering size. How long does that take? It depends on the species, but it takes around seven years to produce a perfect tulip bulb.
The best bulbs in the world
Centuries of experience are part of the reason why Dutch bulbs are the best in the world today, but nature also has a role to play. The soil in the bulb-growing regions is absolutely ideal. It drains well, and is light and rather sandy.
The climate is just right too, and when it isn’t quite right all year round, the ingenious Dutch growers use scientifically formulated temperature treatments to give the bulbs all the right developmental cues to produce wonderful flowers.
Pot plant growers all over the world know just where to get the perfect bulbs for pot plant production and ‘forcing’, a process in which bulbs are persuaded to flower out of season. They get Dutch grown bulbs, and all they need to do is provide the right conditions. So even if you buy a flowering bulb plant tagged with the brand of a local nursery, there’s a 60% or more chance that the bulbs originally came from Holland.
Something old, something new
Apart from producing the old favorites that have been popular for hundreds of years, Dutch plant breeders keep working hard to produce new flower bulb varieties with exciting characteristics. Flowers are bigger, more brightly colored and have stronger flowering stems, plants are tougher, more adaptable and less likely to succumb to disease… Dutch plant breeders use traditional techniques as well as cutting edge science to produce distinctive new varieties that everyone wants to try. Are Dutch bulbs really the best? You can’t argue with the evidence! They certainly are!