The flower fans shouldn't be tempted to buy bulbs at the famous Flower Market in Amsterdam or near the Keukenhof in Lisse, as reported in this article in the Guardian. The innocent buyer will think it's his or her own fault the bulbs don't bloom, but they might have been sold rubbish.
Thanks for the warning.
It would be nice to have a follow up as to how to review the bulbs prior to sale to identify 'bad' bulbs from viable bulbs.
I know I didn't trust the time lines of how long they had been packaged, if I could hold onto them for a further 10 months before being able to plant them. The fact they need a certain amount of chill to get them to bloom (when I lived in mild temperate zones, all new bulbs were kept in the fridge for 6 weeks to mimic 'winter'), so part of the reason they don't bloom may not all be down to the bulb sellers. I suspect a good number of bulbs are sold to people without a lot of gardening experience. I can't recall what the explanation of planting is on the package, but in a place as diverse as North America, I assume them to be too simplified to be successful.
Thanks for this information. I’m wondering if vendors are knowingly selling bulbs that cannot bloom and if certain bulb sellers (and growers) will be shut down. This is a big deal to give bulb flowers a bad reputation.
Let me say it this way: a trustworthy merchant knows what he is selling.
I would buy where the locals buy. Maybe in a garden centre or even in a supermarket (I have seen them there also). Or maybe buy cheese instead?
And don't buy that cheese in one of those tourist-orientated cheese shops. Go to a market, such as the one near the Noorderkerk.
Interesting. Have things changed? In 2009, our first trip abroad, we bought 5 packets of 10 bulbs each, with the approved for US Customs seal. We are not good in the garden. These were the first things we ever planted that came up for us completely, and 10 years later most are still up every spring.
In a newspaper archive I found a similar report from 2006: 80.000 bulbs at the Flower Market confiscated for being mouldy or too old. You had an honest dealer.
Last year our guide recommended purchasing flower bulbs inside Keukenhof by Queen Flower Bulbs.
They bloomed beautifully and have just replanted for this spring. The bulbs divided and look a little dry from being refrigerated but appeared to be healthy.
You can purchase their products online and they will ship as appropriate.
The last time we saw the Amsterdam Flower Market, the stock was so conventional and unimpressive, we didn't come close to buying anything. Although I didn't buy anything the last time we were at Keukenhof garden, I would point out to casual readers that the "Guardian" story does NOT implicate sellers INSIDE KEUKENHOF, who AFAIR, sell for shipment only, to those from the U.S. That is primarily for agricultural regulatory reasons.
Tim is right to point out that only the Flower market in Amsterdam appeared to have this problem. I've never bought bulbs there as the merchandise seems to mostly exist of souvenir stuff like shirts , shopping bags and the like. I order my bulbs on line from Bakker and was never disappointed . They mail the bulbs at the right time for your US climate zone .
The Floating Flower Market has been a con for years. Bulbs really need to be fresh, from that year preferably. Here's an intersting article with a couple of pictures of what a bulb should be like inside. If you buy a bag of bulbs, ask the seller to cut one in half for you to see if it is alive or dead inside! https://thatdamguide.com/blog/tulips-from-bulb-to-bloom/
After leaving the Keukenhof in Lisse : Do NOT buy bulbs on the Lisse Boulevard, just as bad as on the Flowermarket in Amsterdam.