Gardeners have been planting tulips since the 1500s. Those early tulips were essentially wildflowers, imported from Turkey. Though beautiful, their blossoms were no bigger than your thumb. Thanks to plant breeders in Holland and elsewhere, today’s tulips have larger flowers, taller, stronger stems, and are available in hundreds of different colors.
To produce a bigger and better tulip, plant breeders hybridize two genetically different plants. The new generation of plants displays characteristics from each parent, and over time, the breeder selects offspring that display the most desirable traits.