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Forcing Tulips in the New Jersey Winter

It’s mid-February here in Central NJ. Snow is on the ground and we’ve had several months of freezing temps. But each week, we’ve been showing up at our farmers market with a big vanful of tulips. “Did you really grow these?” is the number one question we are asked. 

And the answer is a resounding “Yes - we grew all of these flowers!”

Winter forced tulips in a New Jersey Greenhouse
Verona Sunrise tulips blooming in Janaury

How do we force tulips to grow in the winter? We trick them!

As you might know, tulip bulbs are usually planted in the fall, sit dormant all winter, and bloom in the spring - usually in April here in New Jersey. They need the cold winter to chill the bulbs in order to bloom. We mimic this process by planting tulips in crates and then putting them into the cooler, where they think it’s winter. After many weeks, we then pull the tulips into a warm greenhouse, where they think it’s spring and bloom!

We have forced tulips for several years here at Moonshot Farm. In 2022, we decided to scale our winter tulip production way up. We invested in an awesome course called The Tulip Workshop which helps growers learn how to force tulips successfully. The course gave us the confidence to force 40,000 tulips in 2023 and then triple that in 2024 - this year we are growing over 125,000 on our small farm!

It’s a lot of lifting heavy crates and a lot of anxiety about greenhouse conditions, but it’s all worth it to bring our community pesticide-free flowers in the middle of winter!

Growing tulips in crates for winter forcing
Each week we move thousands of tulip crates from the cooler to the greenhouse

The best part? This year we are growing the majority of our winter tulips in our geothermal greenhouse. This means they have a smaller carbon footprint than ever before and are some of the most sustainable flowers in the entire United States! 

Geothermal greenhouse in NJ with tulips growing
Tulips growing in our geothermal greenhouse

We’ll have tulips this year from January through late April and maybe even into May. Grab a bunch at Union Square Greenmarket (NYC) on Fridays, Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket (NYC) on Saturdays, West Windsor Farmers Market (NJ) on Saturdays, or at our on-farm stand, which is every Sunday from 10am-dusk.

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