Why Does The Netherlands Grow Tulips?

January 29, 2021

When you think of the Netherlands, one of the first things that come to mind is perhaps the image of colorful tulips. When you stroll through the various cities and parks within the Netherlands in the springtime, you will likely come across this vibrant and beautiful flower. While the tulip season is short-lived each year because of the fragile nature of this flower, it is without a doubt one of the best times of the year. Travelers flock from all over the world to see fields of this flower in all its glory. The Netherlands is the tulip capital of the entire world, but why?

Why does the Netherlands grow tulips? The Netherlands started to grow tulips after they were introduced to the country in the 1700s. Tulips at that time were worth a lot of money, at the peak, a tulip bulb was even worth its own weight in gold. Today, the Netherlands is still one of the largest exporters of tulips in the world.

The topic regarding tulips in the Netherlands goes far beyond it just being a flower, as it is a huge part of the culture in this country and it is a widely celebrated element here, too. The Netherlands and its tulips have inspired places around the world in truly remarkable ways. In the article below, we will go in-depth about all things tulips in the Netherlands and exactly why this flower is so important to this country.

How Did The Netherlands Start Growing Tulips?

Tulips were initially introduced to Holland in the 16th century, and the lovely flower likely originated from Kazakhstan and made its way to Europe with help from Persia and China.

Tulips were an exotic sight to the citizens of western Europe, and so they were grown in a botanical garden, called Hortus Botanicus, for guests to come to stroll through and see.

People from all over were utterly mesmerized by the tulip and its beauty, which is very understandable. It was not until the year 1634, in a time referred to as “Tulip Mania” that widespread popularity and hoarding of this flower began.

During Tulip Mania, tulips were so sought-after and coveted that a single tulip bud cost as much as the price of a house at the time! People who were considered middle class saw the value of tulips and began collecting them whenever possible and selling them for a huge profit. At the peak, tulip bulbs were even worth their own weight in gold.

Tulip Mania ended in 1637 because the prices ended up plummeting due to the market. Tulips were of course still widely appreciated in Holland, and they continue to be so today.

Why does the Netherlands grow tulips - Dutch growing tulips

The Dutch Are One of The Largest Exporters of Tulips

The love for this flower remained after Tulip Mania, and people all around the Netherlands began growing and harvesting them.

The Netherlands is best at producing and exporting flowers. The country is a lead exporter of flowers, plants, decorative trees, and bulbs. Around three-quarters of the flower bulbs in the world are exported from the Netherlands.

The flowers most exported from the Netherlands are tulips. Each year more than 2 billion tulips are exported from the Netherlands to different parts of the world. Tulips are sold in Aalsmeer, Naaldwijk, and Rijnsburg in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands also has the biggest flower auction in the world. Here buyers from all over the world can bid on batches of flowers and plants, after which they are shipped to the relevant buyer.

This is why the Netherlands is also known as the "tulip capital of the world". Because of this, many of the tulips you see in other places around the world have a high chance of being from the Netherlands.

Tulips are appreciated by both those from the Netherlands and those that are not. Festivals celebrating this beautiful flower take place all over the world each year, which we will discuss more in a later section. The Netherlands is known for many things, but tulips are definitely one of the symbols of the country.

Why do Tulips Grow so Well in The Netherlands?

How come this bright-colored flower happens to grow so well in the Netherlands, out of all places? Tulips do truly thrive in the climate and environment that exists in this region of Europe. Since the weather in the Netherlands is fairly stable, with an average of 9.8 degrees Celsius, or 48 degrees Fahrenheit, the tulip flourishes and can grow excellently to bloom in the spring.

The soil is prime for this flower to grow, as it is the perfect combination of sand and clay-like mixture. The bulbs of this flower are planted in the earth during the late fall months.

The tulips can succeed in creating a root system and in sprouting once the temperature drops in the winter because the soil will be plenty dry enough. The tulip bulbs need cold nights and cold winters, making the Netherlands a perfect country for tulips. As long as the bulbs are planted at the right depth, they should not be affected by frost, either.

Where Else are Tulips Grown?

You may be wondering if the Netherlands is the primary country or place to grow tulips in such volume. While the flower does thrive in this country, it is certainly not the only climate that supports this attractive plant.

Tulips also grow in places such as Greece, Albania, Turkey, and Central Asia, because of the moderate climates. Tulips really thrive in the Mediterranean environment, because of the dry summers that allow the soil to stay at optimal moisture levels.

There are a few places in the United States that can support tulip growth, as well. Washington and Oregon are the primary places you will find fields of these flowers in the short span that they bloom. There are fields in Texas and California that can sustain blossoming tulips, too. A lot of the locations throughout the United States happen to have Dutch-inspired names for their farms, too.

Tulips in a park in Istanbul, Turkey:

Tulips in a park in Turkey

Tulip Festivals Around the Globe

Tulips are so appreciated in the Netherlands as well as other places that there are entire festivals that are held every year in the spring to celebrate the beauty of this flower.

These festivals are truly mesmerizing with the sheer abundance of blossoming tulips sweeping over stunning landscapes. There are tulip festivals found in several countries, so let’s go over some of the main ones that you should absolutely consider visiting in your lifetime.

The Canadian Tulip Festival:

There are claims that the Canadian Tulip Festival, which is held each May in Ottawa, is the largest tulip festival in the world. There is a rich history and significance that stems from this tradition, and it is connected to the Netherlands.

The Canadian Tulip Festival began back in 1945 after Dutch royalty sent Canada 100,000 tulips as a token of appreciation during the Second World War. The celebration of friendship has taken place every year since, and this is definitely one of the best locations to visit the vast gardens of stunning springtime tulips.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival:

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival takes place in the state of Washington, not too far outside of the major city of Seattle. This festival is held the entire month of April, so there is ample time to enjoy the stunning scenery of this brilliant flower backdropped by the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival throws events, games, and activities for everyone that comes to participate to enjoy. There is even a bike tour through the Skagit Valley, so you can get as close to a full Netherlands experience as possible.

Tulip Festival Amsterdam:

The Tulip Festival Amsterdam is of course one of the absolute best celebrations of this flower in the world. There are nearly 100 locations in and around the city that have dazzling tulip displays, so there is definitely plenty to see. Keukenhof Gardens is one of the best places to experience this flower in all of its splendor, from late March to early May.

Over 7 million tulip bulbs are planted in Keukenhof each year, which is a number that is hard for anyone to wrap their head around. The outstanding displays that are created with this flower are positively breathtaking, and one of the best ways to get around Keukenhof to see all that it has to offer is by a bicycle tour.

Why does the Netherlands grow tulips - Amsterdam tulip festival

International Istanbul Tulip Festival:

The International Istanbul Tulip Festival is a fantastic one, especially considering that Turkey is one of the places that the tulip originated from. This festival has a lengthy history, as it has been celebrated for 300 years now.

The official dates of the festival are from the 1st of April until the 30th, but blossoming tulips can be viewed a bit before or after this time. If you find yourself in Istanbul during this time of year, you will undoubtedly want to make your way to this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Conclusion

Hopefully, any questions you had concerning "why does the Netherlands grows tulips?" have been answered in full. The tulip is of high importance to not only the country of the Netherlands but to many places throughout the world. This flower dates back hundreds of years in the Netherlands, and there was even a time that a single bulb could have been traded for an entire home.

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Written by

Leo van den Berg
As a Dutchman I am extremely proud of the beautiful country in which I live. My goal is to convey my passion and love for the Netherlands to as many people as possible.

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