The TULIPS.GR project introduces an innovative research line for all tulips that occur in Greece (native and naturalized), since to date they are not used in a sustainable way and there are no local commercial crops developed (only imported species and hybrids of tulip). The project will be implemented in a pilot way in Greece. It is expected to represent internationally a good practice regarding the sustainable utilization of rare, threatened and/or endemic genetic resources of a well-known ornamental plant (tulip) that is associated with global economic value and high ornamental-floricultural demand.

Beginning from ex situ conservation of well-documented wild-growing plant material (authorized collections), the project academic and research partners deliver species-specific propagation protocols (with conventional and biotechnological methods), solid product identity (taxonomic and molecular identification of all species) and robust insight (foliar diagnostics and investigation of natural rhizosphere mycorrhiza). The propagation and cultivation protocols developed apply precision liquid organic fertilizers of the company Theofrastos. These fertilizers contribute to the reduction of inputs, production costs but also to the protection of the environment, aiming at: (a) improved plant nutrition only with precision organic foliar fertilization, without aggravating the soil and groundwater with conventional inorganic agrochemical fertilizers; (b) precision nitrogen fertilization, without burdening the soil with nitrate, nitrite and ammonia ions; (c) increased plant health and resistance of plant material to common enemies and diseases.

The cooperating company Nurseries Athena apply new and specialized propagation and cultivation protocols in commercial scale for the first time in Greek tulips, benefiting the launching of the newly introduced species of Greek native tulips in both the domestic and international market.

The implementation of the TULIPS.GR project is aimed to contribute to the:

• Protection of native tulip populations from uncontrolled seasonal over-collections,
• Sustainable utilization of Greek biodiversity with pilot cultivation of indigenous tulip species in the primary sector,
• Ex situ conservation of the Greek tulip species with potential to re-enforce wild populations if needed,
• Genetic identification of Greek tulip species (DNA sequences in the World Gene Bank), deciphering genetic affinities with other species and allowing molecular traceability to determine country of origin and species,
• Creation of propagation material with accredited clones of high quality, with documentation of identity and origin for all the native Greek tulips,
• Possible discovery of new species of mycorrhiza from the natural environment associated with native tulip species, with the ability to contribute to the optimization of tulip cultivation worldwide.
• Creation of 5 protocols of mass reproduction with compatible methods and 2 protocols with biotechnological (in vitro) techniques,
• Pilot commercial distribution of documented elite propagating material to nurseries and producers for their cultivation as new Greek floricultural species,
• Creation of 5 cultivation protocols of good practices with low inputs and precision fertilization customised for two cultivation systems (field, greenhouse),
• Creation of a protocol for post-harvest treatments for 5 species of Greek tulips,
• Creation of added value for 5 selected species of Greek tulips, fostering the development of Greek floriculture with cultivation by professional florists,
• Pilot production of new floricultural products with export possibility (and the possibility of reducing imported flowers with a high carbon footprint).
• New possibilities of flower arrangements and incorporation of Greek tulips in gardening and landscape architecture.

The “Greek tulips” focused in this research project is by nature an exportable commercial product that can directly contribute to the Greek economy by increasing exports and reducing imports. The results of the project will contribute significantly to the financial and commercial development of the two companies participating in the program.

The participation of the company Nurseries Athena will expand their range of products distributed on the market with new floricultural products that have identity accreditation as well multiple and solid documentation (origin, production process and genetic profile), as cut flowers and ornamental plants in gardening or landscape architecture. As these products are not currently available in the market, the company AN will have the opportunity to promote them in combination as a package (“unique Greek tulips”) both in Greece and abroad.