Perennial, but only in the right places
Well, as regal as tulips are, they are also a bit rebellious. Yes, they are officially perennials, but just not everywhere or for everyone. A tulip will happily come back year after year, but only if your garden happens to be in a village in the foothills of Nepal, or a town on the steppes of Armenia and Northern Iran. These places have very cold winters and hot dry summers, exactly what tulips need to perform at their perennial best.
Dutch soil and Dutch engineering
But… if these places are so great for tulips, then why do all the best tulips come from Holland? This is where ingenuity and engineering come into play. Dutch tulip growers have two things working in their favor: beautiful sandy soil, and a century old tradition of being able to control water and make it do whatever they want.
In order to entice tulip bulbs to do all of that, growers put their bulbs through a complex process of heat and humidity treatments before they plant them in fall, trying to replicate the tulip’s native habitat as perfectly as possible, even when it’s almost 5000 miles away. They make the bulbs believe they have been through a hot, dry summer and an arctic winter. All of this requires expensive climate control systems, as well as serious know-how and experience.