Most Asked Question at Sun Valley?

What is the most asked question at Sun Valley?
“How do you have tulips in the months of September, October, November and December?”

Whether you are an experienced flower professional or flower novice, the fact that we have tulips year round never ceases to intrigue the uninitiated.

Prepare to get initiated!

sun valley soil grown tulips

Starting in late August (Yes, that is now!) we start harvesting our Rainforest Alliance Certified tulips which have been on a very special journey.  We are now beginning our Southern Hemisphere tulip program, which basically means we are picking tulip bulbs which have been living in New Zealand their whole lives. With the seasons reversed on the bottom of the globe, the tulips we are harvesting truly believe it is spring.

Yes, it is just that easy.  Well, sort off.

The tulips bloomed out during the spring and summer in New Zealand, in what would be fall and winter here in Humboldt County. They bloom outside in October and November. Then they are dug up in January, and packaged up to ride in a container ship across the Pacific Ocean to California. The bulbs arrive in May, and then our team gets busy getting all of them planted in soil filled crates by early July.

At this stage the tulips start rooting in our cooler complex, as we keep the environment similar to what it would be in New Zealand winter or early spring.

Of course, some tulip varieties are early bloomers and some bloom late, so this same progression we have in spring, happens for our fall tulip program as well.
I asked out tulip grower Hans Meester to show me around the greenhouse and answer a few questions.

Tulip Grower Hans
 Lily: Is growing these Southern Hemisphere tulips more challenging than the Northern Hemisphere tulips?
Hans: Not at all, these bulbs are amazing quality, and this time of year, the tulips almost grow themselves.

Lily: What are the first varieties we will see coming out of the greenhouse?

Hans: The first blocks will be heavy on Il de France, Strong Gold, Ad Rem, World’s Favorite and Negritta.

Lily: What is the color mix for the fall program?

Hans: I love the fall program, because we have a fewer amount of varieties, but big numbers in time tested, very solid varieties. We will have the orange, yellow, red, bi-color and purple you need for fall, with a bump in dark and light pink in October for Breast Cancer Awareness promotions.  Right after Thanksgiving, we will have all the red and white tulips you can handle.

Lily: How about Fancy tulips?
Hans: The first blocks will feature Super Parrot, but as we get into later September we will have Orange Princess, Rococco, White Liberstar, Red Princess and Fabio…maybe a couple more.
Lily: I see some covers on the crates, what’s going on here?

growing tulips

Hans:  Covering some varieties when they are just out of the cooler, will increase their length. We are basically slowing the growth down, so they will get taller before budding.

fancy tulips at Sun Valley

Lily: So the tulips can do OK without much light?

Hans: Tulips don’t ask for a lot of extra light, growing up in Holland, we would grow wonderful tulips in the darkest days of winter, without even having a greenhouse! Here in Arcata, the cloudy, low-light levels days are perfect for growing tulips.

Lily: Thanks Hans!

Sun Valley’s Southern Hemisphere tulips are now available, so stock up your cooler with the colors of fall, from one of the world most beloved flowers.
flower growing blog