Do flower bulbs in the greenhouse benefit from extra light?

Published on
June 18, 2021

Growing flower bulbs in a greenhouse can save time and the environment. And a greenhouse also offers the option of using LED lights during propagation. That is why the Business Unit Greenhouse Horticulture and Flower Bulbs of Wageningen University & Research is investigating which light regime can enhance the growth of tulips, daffodils and calla. This research also provides fundamental knowledge about the cultivation of bulbs.

With most bulbs it takes an average of three to four years to grow starting material into deliverable bulbs. They must be harvested, stored and replanted every year. This is an almost closed process: possible diseases and pests therefore remain a recurring problem.

Keeping flower bulbs disease-free is easier in the greenhouse

To break this cycle, it is necessary to start with clean, disease-free material (e.g. virus-free with in-vitro material), keep them clean during cultivation and reduce the number of growth cycles. The result: less crop protection is needed and cultivation is faster. Such a new cultivation system is possible if the first phase (propagation) takes place in a greenhouse.

WUR is investigating how such a new cultivation system should look like. At the same time, the research provides a lot of fundamental knowledge about bulbs and their growth, because to date, there is still relatively limited knowledge. Hence the name of the PPP study: Fundamental System Leap. The study will last four years and will start in 2020.

Fundamental system leap in flower bulb cultivation

One of the aspects WUR is researching is the physiological effect of LED light on tulips, daffodils and calla lilies (Zantedeschia). For this purpose, various LED spectra on crop and bulb growth are examined. The research is currently taking place in WUR's greenhouses in Bleiswijk. In addition, a Zantedeschia LED trial will start in 2021 at a propagation company.

The Fundamental System Leap project is a Public-Private Partnership with funding from the T&U Top Sector. The implementation is the responsibility of a consortium of thirteen partners. These are: KAVB, Anthos, Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Hobaho, Kapiteyn, Prins, Iribov, Dunamo foundation, Agrifirm-GMN, BQ Support, Greenport Duin & Bollenstreek, Bollenacademie and Rabobank Nederland.