Cut Flower Bulbs

Course CodeBHT317
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Are you Passionate about Growing Cut Flowers from Bulbs?

This course will do more than just expand your knowledge of growing bulbs. We have planned and will deliver a learning experience that provides knowledge and understanding first, then reinforces that learning - developing your capacity to apply your learning in a whole range of real world situations small scale through to large scale.

If you have always wanted to learn more about flowering bulbs and how to grow them commercially or at home, this is the place to start!

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Cut Flower Bulb Production
  2. Cultural Practices that effect the production of flowering bulbs, such as soils, nutrition, etc.
  3. Flower Initiation & Development. Consideration for the affects different cultural practices can have on flower production.
  4. Pest & Disease Control. various pest and disease problems are over-viewed.
  5. Managing Yield, Greenhouse Culture. We look at the specific aspects of growing greenhouse crops.
  6. Management, Harvest & Post Harvest
  7. Gladiolus and Liliums
  8. Narcissus
  9. Iris
  10. Other Bulbs

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Describe cultural practices for production of different cut flower bulbs and the basis of good horticultural practice: soils and soil types, plant nutrition, pest and disease management and weed control.
  • Understand the initiation and development of flowers in plants with bulbs, rhizomes, tubers, corms or other specialized parts. A look at the factors affecting the flowering stages.
  • Learn how to manage any pests and diseases for a crop of cut flower bulbs or in the home garden.
  • Manage the quantity and quality of a crop of cut flower bulbs, both grown in the open and in a greenhouse. In this lesson we also have a good look at the various systems of growing cut flower bulbs in greenhouses and look at ways to manage the environmental conditions in them.
  • Learn about the management and the harvest/post harvest of cut flower bulbs.
  • Explain the production of Lilium and Gladioli cut flower crops.
  • Explain the production of Narcissus cut flower crops.
  • Explain the production of Iris and Gladioli cut flower crops.
  • In this lesson we look at the a comparison of a variety of different cut flower bulb crops.

The Business of Flower Growing

Floriculture enriches the lives of millions of people every year and is an industry attractive to both scientist and artist. The term 'floriculture' is derived from Latin, and means 'to cultivate flowers'. Flowers are in demand all year round with peak requirements at special times of the year, such as for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and so on. Particular festivals often influence the type of flowers required e.g. red roses for Valentine’s Day.

Floriculture businesses produce fresh and dried flowers and foliage for a mixture of markets such as wholesale flower markets, florists and retail outlets, and in some cases for export. The wide range of different flowers and foliage grown can include roses, carnations, orchids, native flowers, bulb and annual flowers, and tropical flowers. Some flower farms also grow flowers in open fields for their essential oils.
Floriculture includes propagating, growing and marketing of all cut flowers, flower seeds and seedlings, bulb growing, nursery operation, chemical protection of plants, post-harvest storage and handling and use of preservatives.
A proportion of flower production takes place in greenhouses. In addition to the greenhouse production, floriculture encompasses outdoor production of herbaceous plants and flowers, and field production of cut flowers.

The International Flower Market
Cut flower production is an expanding industry worldwide. It has a great deal of export potential, and although most flower producing countries meet the domestic requirements of their cut flower markets, the home market potential in many countries could be further developed. Spending on cut flowers is stronger in some countries than others, the average Australian for example spends far less on cut flowers than say, the average German or Frenchman). 

Germany imports most of their cut flower requirements (up to 70%) with The Netherlands being the largest exporter to Germany. Japan and the United States have the largest cut flower market almost doubling that of Germany. During the later part of the 20th century, cut flower production developed rapidly. Colombia, Israel and to a lesser degree, Australia, developed export cut flower industries rapidly during this period with China and India having the largest areas under cultivation (but low yields per hectare). The Netherlands has been, and continues to be a major export market that also has a large domestic demand, the local demand almost equaling exports. Countries such as India and China although having large production areas are still in the developing stage mainly due to the low quality of exports and the financial constraints limiting imports. Colombia and Kenya export most of the cut flowers produced with only a small local market.

Being in the southern hemisphere means that some countries (e.g. Australia, South Africa, New Zealand) are able to produce out of season flowers for the northern hemisphere where most of the world's population resides.


Suggested Reading

Growing and Knowing Bulbs
is an ebook written by our principal and staff
It is available to purchase as a download from our online bookstore

Extract from this book:


Family:  Hyacinthaceae (or Liliaceae)

Common Name:  Hyacinth

Origin: There are several species and many cultivars mostly of the Common Hyacinth which originate from Africa and the Mediterranean region.

Appearance: They have strap-like deep green leaves and produce upright spikes of tightly placed small bell-shaped flowers in late winter or early spring. Plants with large, scented flower spikes are available in shades of blue, purple, pink, cerise and white. They can be brought indoors at flowering time, and are best replaced each season.

Culture: Once bulbs have flowered they may be planted in garden beds in spring and will continue to flower year after year. Remove foliage after it has died back. They require good drainage and a cool situation at first till roots develop. If there are insufficient roots, the flower will abort. They prefer a pH of 6.5‑7.5. Too much nutrient will burn plants. Plant at 10-15cm apart with tips 7.5‑10cm below the soil.  Lift after flowering, dust with fungicide and store dry. In warmer climates the bulbs will deteriorate over a few seasons and for this reason they are best grown in cooler areas.

Propagation: They are usually raised from seeds. Seedlings should be left undisturbed for the first year before planting out. They flower after 2-3 years. Larger ones take longer to flower. Named varieties must be raised from bulbils.

Health: They are prone to a number of diseases including grey bulb rot where a fungal growth destroys the bulbs and spreads through the soil to infect other bulbs, soft rot caused by bacteria which makes the bulbs and leaves slimy, and storage rot. A virus disease may cause chlorosis of the leaves and distorted growth. Physiological disorders may be caused by poor cultural practices and result in poor or disfigured growth. Pests include eel worms and narcissus fly maggots which can tunnel into the bulbs.  

Uses: Cut Flower, alpine gardens, container plants, border plants, rockeries.


H. orientalis (Common Hyacinth, Dutch Hyacinth) - there are many cultivars of this species. It has flower spikes to around 35cm long in a variety of colours.




  • Cut flower bulb production farmers
  • Greenhouse managers: management of cut flower bulb production
  • Those managing the production of cut flower bulbs for the commercial market
  • Those responsible for the maintenance of flowering bulbs in garden displays
  • Those running or wanting to set up their own business growing cut flower bulbs

We encourage and support our students to connect with industry and start to develop networking. In doing these things, what you learn becomes embedded in your long term memory and your ability to detect and adapt to opportunities that emerge in the future will grow not only through the course, but well beyond your studies as well.



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