Meet Jamie Scott, the Parks and Cemetery Deputy Director for the City of Holland. With a warm smile and a tireless work ethic, Jamie is dedicated to enhancing the beauty and functionality of public spaces within the community. He is the Visitor's Bureau tulip guru. In the spirit of Tulip Time fast approaching, we asked him all things tulips! Where are the tulips from? How do you keep the deer away from the tulips? Learn from the Tulip expert!

When do the tulips bloom?

Dependent on weather, the tulips in Holland will bloom late April to early May.  We plant a lot of late blooming varieties to ensure bloom times coincide with Tulip Time festivities.

Who plants all the tulips?

The parks department plants over 500,000 tulips every year within the City right of ways and parks. Private entities, business owners, along with homeowners also plant their own tulips in areas throughout the city. 

When do you plant the tulips?

We plant the tulips in the fall after they arrive from the Netherlands.  After they get inspected by the State of Michigan, we commence planting.  Typically, a planting season for the parks department runs from early October through November.

Do tulips bloom year after year?

They can in the right environment. Many varieties of tulips can be considered perennials – meaning they come back year after year. They prefer well drained sandy soil and ample food sources or fertilization to bloom consistently through the years.

Do you plant new bulbs every year?

We do.  After the tulips bloom every year, we remove them and plant annuals in their place to bring color throughout the downtown corridor and parks.  Unfortunately, annuals require irrigation to thrive in Michigan during the summer.  The subsequent watering schedule can cause the tulip bulb to rot, causing blooms for the next year to be lackluster or devoid altogether.

Tulips Downtown

What do you do with the tulips after they bloom?

The tulips are removed and composted.  However, the annual Tulip Dig allows residents and visitors to dig up tulips in three specific locations within the City.  This year the dig will be June 1st at Centennial Park, Window on the Waterfront, and Windmill Island.

Where are the tulips from?

All of our tulips come from the Netherlands.  The origins of the tulip however come from the Himalayas and Turkey.

Do tulips have a scent?

Yes, a very faint scent. Many times they are overpowered by hyacinth flowers, which often bloom as the same time as tulips.

How many varieties of tulips do you plant?

Every year we try to plant between 75-100 varieties of Tulips, with at least 10-15 varieties being new.

WOW Tulips with lady

Can I buy tulips during the festival?

You can!  During the festival you can visit Window on the Waterfront or Windmill Island to purchase tulip bulbs.  Other retail locations around Holland sell bulbs as well. You have many options to bring a piece of Holland to your own home.  At the Artesian market, you can buy potted tulips from the Tulip Time booth.  At Windmill Island you can buy potted tulips or order bulbs. Ordered bulbs will be fulfilled in the fall and shipped.

Can I cut the tulips?

Cutting the tulips is strictly prohibited.  Please leave the tulips untouched for all to enjoy.

Are the tulips planted in one place?

No!! The parks department plants tulips in multiple locations – parks, behind curbs along tulip lanes, and the downtown corridor.  In addition to the tulips that the parks department plants, many other tulips that have been planted by private entities can be appreciated by residents and visitors.

Can I walk through the tulip fields?

Please do not walk through any tulip field or bed unless there is a dedicated pathway.  Windmill Island tulip fields are planted in such a way that allows visitors to walk between the rows of tulips.  Do not trample, step on, or alter the tulips in any way.

How long does a tulip bloom?

Under ideal conditions (cool, with soft rains) a tulip can bloom 2-3 weeks.  However, less than ideal weather conditions (very warm, heavy rains) can reduce bloom time to as little as 4-5 days.

Can I plant tulips at my house?

You can plant tulips at you house.  Pick a location that gets full sun, has soil with good drainage, and minimal spray from irrigation systems.

Will deer eat the tulips? What about rabbits? How do you keep the deer from eating the tulips?

Deer love tulip bulbs and flowers! Rabbits enjoy eating the fresh tender green shoots that emerge in the spring. In areas that are prone to deer populations, the parks department installs plastic and metal fencing to prevent the deer from accessing an all you can eat buffet of tulips.

Why are tulips different shapes?

Tulips are unique just like us!  Many varieties are unique in growing habits, height, flower size and color, and bloom times.

Onalee Hopp

What’s your favorite color tulip?

I love the deep red tulips and the bright orange varieties.

How do you get a tulip to grow tall?

Ensure your tulips are planted in full sun, and provide ample watering in the spring if Mother Nature doesn’t send spring showers.

Can I eat the bulbs?

Bulbs were eaten and rationed by the Dutch during world war II.  You can eat them, but it’s not wildly popular.  I have never eaten one, but it is said that they have a milky onion taste.  If you are brave enough to try eating a tulip, remember to remove the yellow core within the bulb – it is poisonous!

Where can I bring my dog in Tulip Time?

You can bring your dog into any of the parks and public spaces.  Please don’t allow your dogs to relieve themselves on any tulips, and please pick after your dog!  Keeping your furry friend on a leash is also a strict requirement.