Bulbs Buying plants Gardening

Rumors are swirling that there is a bulb shortage, is there?

Recently (July 31, 2021), I published an article encouraging readers to order their bulbs early in 2021, as it looked as if there was going to be a bulb shortage (Spring Bulbs Will Be in Short Supply This Fall: Order Early!). Well … there is. Here is how the National Gardening Bureau responded to the question in a recent press release in which they published the answers to that question as given by four major North American bulb suppliers.

Larry Hodgson

 Is there a bulb shortage?

Longfield Gardens‘ Answer: 

If you are planning to purchase tulips, daffodils, and other fall-planted bulbs, don’t wait too long or you may miss out.

Demand for bulbs, plants, and other gardening supplies has skyrocketed since the start of COVID and is not slowing down. More people planting bulbs is a good thing, but it means more competition in the marketplace.

On the supply side, growers in Holland are doing their best to cope with a number of weather-related problems. Last spring was warmer than average, and the bulbs in Holland’s production fields did not put on as much growth as they usually do. Plants with less foliage produce smaller bulbs and that means fewer of this year’s bulbs made it to market. Many of those that did are on the smaller side of the acceptable size range.

This past summer was also much wetter than normal. Holland’s bulb farmers harvest their crops during the summer months when the weather is normally dry. This year, torrential rains caused a multitude of harvest problems.

Yet another challenge is shipping. Most bulbs are shipped by boat. The worldwide container shortage and related scheduling issues are making it much more difficult for suppliers to be nimble when managing inventory.

So, shop early to avoid disappointment!

Various spring bulbs in bloom.

Breck’s Bulbs Answer:

Weather Problems in Holland

“A series of weather events has impacted this summer’s flower bulb harvest in Holland,” explains Henk Westerhof, Chairman of Anthos, the Royal Trade Association for Nursery Stock and Flower Bulbs. “Dutch growers experienced a late winter frost, an extended period of cool spring weather, a June heatwave, and then unusually heavy summer rains.”

A wide range of flower bulbs remains available, but certain varieties have yielded a lower supply than expected. Therefore, customers may find specific varieties in short supply or no longer available.

Various spring bulbs in bloom.

DutchGrown’s Answer:

Yes, it is a fact that this year there is a shortage of flower bulbs.

Here’s why:

1. Weather: Holland had a very cold spring which caused the bulbs to bloom late. In addition, there was a stretch of unusually hot weather during the period the bulbs need mild temperatures to grow to a suitable size. This resulted in a very short growing period for the bulbs and most varieties didn’t grow to the large sizes needed under those conditions.

2. Pandemic: Due to the pandemic, a lot of people started gardening so the demand for flower bulbs worldwide is much higher than normal. Tulips, in particular, are experiencing a much higher demand as more people brought flowers indoors during the pandemic. This means that many more of the available tulip bulbs were used for cut flower production.

Various spring bulbs in bloom.

Brent & Becky’s Bulbs’ Answer:

There are SO many issues; some related to COVID, some not.

During the pandemic, many manufacturers were required to either shut down or cut back on the number of shifts they could have.

Then, many of the fall-planted bulbs come from Holland where they had one of the wettest harvest seasons on record. That made the harvest much slower and it also contributed to diseases that would not normally be there because they couldn’t dry the bulbs quickly enough.

To top it off, the ports are congested and there aren’t enough truckers to deliver the goods.

It’s the trickle-down effect! So, we all need to take deep breaths, work on growing a good set of “duck feathers” so things can “roll off,” as opposed to being stressed all the time. Get outside and play in the garden!

Various spring bulbs in bloom.

Be Patient, Be Flexible, Try Something New!

In summary, National Garden Bureau advises bulb buyers and gardeners to be patient, be understanding and be willing to try something new. As gardeners, we always have to deal with all that Mother Nature throws our way and this is just another example of “Mom” showing us who is the boss!

To buy your spring bulbs from reliable, informed sources, click here to shop the members of the National Garden Association (USA only).

This post is provided as an educational/inspirational service of the National Garden Bureau and its members. 

3 comments on “Rumors are swirling that there is a bulb shortage, is there?

  1. Well, as much as I wanted to get some this year, I will not. I am overwhelmed with other (mostly summer) perennials that I needed to remove from another garden.

  2. Jessica Crawford

    Phew, I bought my bulbs early this year, thank goodness!

  3. Seems unusual weather has affected everyone. After dealing with drought, smoke and destructive and annoying wildlife this summer should not be surprised the fun isn’t over yet. Relying more on perennial types of Spring bulbs is going to become more the norm.

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