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Off with their heads: why our growers top tulips

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It’s not a common practice among most gardeners: growing big, beautiful tulips only to lop off their blooms. But for Dutch tulip growers, topping tulips makes sense – by removing the “flowers” from┬áthe plants, more energy is directed into the bulb. That means healthier bulbs for transporting and selling around the world.

Near the end of April, many of Breck’s tulip growers top their tulip fields with machines that look like raised lawn mowers. This equipment tops the tulips, but plants’ leaves remain to absorb sunlight and convert that power into energy, stored in the tulips’ bulbs. With that extra energy and size, the bulbs sprout bigger, heartier tulips after they’ve been harvested and shipped.

Workers top tulips in a grower's field in Hillegom, Holland.

Workers top tulips in a grower’s field in Hillegom, Holland.

You can engage in the same practice after your tulips are past their prime! When the petals begin to wilt, cut off the faded blooms, and allow the leaves and stem to die back naturally.

Tulip Topper

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April 28, 2016