What color is your tulip?
Selling consumers on bud-stage
bulb plants will increase enjoyment and future sales, says the
Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center.
by Amy Bauer
The Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center (NFBIC) wants you to make
selling green the hottest trend in spring-flowering bulb sales this
season. Green meaning merchandising your bulb plants in bud stage to
give the end consumer the longest plant life and the full show of color.
Sally Ferguson, director of the NFBIC in Danby, Vt., says merchandising
plants only in full bloom represents a missed opportunity for
wholesalers, retailers and consumers. Her organization has been
communicating to consumers directly through the media about buying in
bud but has found that often such plants are difficult to find at
Bob Yedowitz Sr., owner of Emil Yedowitz Sons Inc. Florists and Growers
in Yonkers, N.Y., says convincing consumers green is the way to go is
the major hurdle. “There’s a certain segment of the population that
understand or for personal consumption would buy it that way,” he says,
but notes that those buying bulb plants as gifts may be a hard sell. “I
don’t think most people would buy bulbs that aren’t showing color for
The answer, Ms. Ferguson says, is to serve both groups, offering bulb
plants in all stages of development. The tip to impress upon consumers,
she suggests, is: “Buy in bud for weeks of bloom, buy in bloom for
instant gratification.” Another option is to offer packaging and
accompaniments like bows and ribbons that can make a stunning gift of
budding blooms and to let gift-givers know their recipients will enjoy
their gift longer this way.
tapping into strengths
Yedowitz, who provides a weekly
gardening segment for the
metropolitan New York area via a local Cablevision news station, says
his business sells some of its bulb plants in the green stage, and he
agrees that’s the best time for consumers to buy such plants. He
suggests that florists communicate this message directly to their
consumers in selling situations. If consumers are inquiring about such
plants, steer them to the bud versions. And he says if consumers
approach the cash register with a bulb plant in bloom, the salesperson
can kindly suggest that they will get a longer showing of color if they
select a plant still in bud.
Such suggestions can seem counterintuitive for florists who need to sell
flowering plants that may have been in the shop for a while, but Mr.
Yedowitz emphasizes that greater consumer satisfaction is the goal of
such suggestions. And the eventual result should be increased loyalty
and repeat sales.
Ms. Ferguson suggests displays that are primarily masses of green plants
in tight bud stage, maybe with a little bit of color showing. Just a few
blooming versions of the same plant are arranged alongside as an example
of the color and form the plants will take upon flowering. “Those are
the sizzle,” she says.
“The goal is that the ones that bloom will sell
the ones that are green.”
consumer care tips
- Advise your customers to keep their bulb plants in a cool spot in
their home for the longest enjoyment. Warmer temperatures will speed up
flowering. Avoid furnace vents and drafts.
- Advise your customers to provide plenty of light for their bulb
plants, such as enough for a person to comfortably read a newspaper by.
- Advise your customers to keep the soil moist to the touch but to
provide good drainage and not to overwater the plants. Occasionally mist
the plant as the flowers open to prevent them from drying out.
tips for sales success
1 Buy the best. Your stock’s quality can set you apart. Consider
offering a guarantee. If you don’t have faith in your stock, why should
2 Group by color. Keep your preflowering potted bulbs gathered in
color groups, and include a few flowering examples among them. Keep
enough of these “decoys” on hand to show off the plants’ eventual look
and to satisfy those looking for blooming gifts. Placing such plants in
warmer spots a few days earlier will help bring them into bloom.
3 Display for effect. A display with a central theme or featured
flower, with several satellite displays to support it, should be placed
in your shop’s most heavily trafficked area to draw attention. Tempt
customers with some spring-flowering plants just inside the shop doors
as well, and create clusters of color with bloomers on a small garden
table, a low stool, in a cupboard or on a windowsill.
4 Make pricing clear. Con-sumers don’t want to hunt for pricing
information and are more likely to commit to a purchase if they’re armed
with all the information they need. Use overall signage or individual
plant tags to share pricing information. And if you’re running a special
on potted bulbs, make sure that’s communicated several places in your
5 Keep it cool. To keep your potted bulbs from showing off their
colors too early, keep them in a room that is as cool as possible
without freezing. If purchased at the correct stage, potted bulbs should
hold for several days in your shop without loss of bloom life for
consumers. In extreme circumstances, if bulb plants are developing too
quickly, they can be kept in your cooler, but if buds or blooms are
present, they can’t tolerate temperatures lower than 40 F for longer
than one week, or the foliage and blooms may show signs of damage.
Source: Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center
Download printable versions of our handy tulip placards for your
green tulip plants:
here and choose "Save As"
for the Tulip Sign
here and choose "Save As"
for the Tulip Plant Tag
here and choose "Save As"
for the Tulip Poster
You may contact Amy Bauer by e-mail at
or by phone at (800) 367-4708.
• To read and see more,
to purchase the current issue of Florist's Review.