Tulip trickery: Tourists duped

Tulip trickery: Tourists duped

An investigation into the floating flower market on the Singel canal has uncovered a “long-running scam.” A study commissioned by the Amsterdam council has shown that just one percent of the bulbs on sale flowered and none of them matched the picture on the packet.

Investigation reveals tulip scam

An investigation commissioned by the Amsterdam council, along with the town of Lisse, where the Keukenhof is situated, and the KAVB Dutch bulb growers’ association has revealed that only one percent of the bulbs bought at the Bloemenmarkt actually flowered. The Amsterdam council instigated the investigation amid growing concerns surrounding badly handled and defective bulbs.

The investigation involved a study of 102 packets of bulbs from 15 vendors at the market. 1.364 bulbs were planted by the specialist grower, BQ Support, who managed to only get 14 plants to produce flowers, none of which matched the picture on its respective packet. 92 percent of the bulbs planted failed to grow or produce any kind of flower.

The study also found that many of the bulbs’ roots had dried out, causing the roots not to grow properly when planted, thus restricting the plant's future growth. Additionally, the plants are often sold in the wrong season and buyers are given incorrect advice on how to handle and when to plant the bulbs.

A similar investigation was undertaken in Lisse, a major flower-growing town, and its famous Bloembollen boulevard. There, only two percent of the bulbs flowered and only one matched its picture.

Restoring a national symbol

The tulip is the national flower and symbol of the Netherlands and René le Clercq, chairman of the KAVB, fears that the scam has damaged the industry’s image. “The tulip is our national symbol, bulb trade is important for the Dutch economy and we are horrified that organised scammers are misleading consumers and damaging the sector’s image,” he said in a statement.

Ilse Griek, responsible for the city-centre economy on the Amsterdam council, echoed this sentiment: “We are looking as a city into how to make this into an attractive flower market again”. She also said that tourists are being warned, “but it’s up to the regulator to address this pattern where consumers are being misled." Both the city of Amsterdam and the KAVB have reported the flower sellers to the Dutch consumer authority, ACM, urging them to investigate.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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