Natalie Thodoropoulos poses Wednesday, March 1 with tulips she’s growing in the basement of her Paducah home.

PADUCAH — For Natalie Thodoropoulos, tulips are a lot of things.

A nostalgic memory of her grandfather’s farm in Equality, Illinois. An inspiration during a trip to The Netherlands a few years ago. A developing startup she hopes to turn into more of a full-time business.

“I have a strong emotional attachment to them,” Thodoropoulos said in an interview Wednesday, March 1.

Over the fall planting season, Thodoropoulos, founder of Tulip Lane Flower Farm, put nearly 40,000 bulbs in the dirt.

About 30,000 of those will be available at a new u-pick location in Metropolis Thodoropoulos plans to open for business in a few weeks.

“That is really what I wanted to do from the beginning, but I just didn’t have the space,” she said.

Until this season, Thodoropoulos only grew a few thousand flowers outdoors at her Fountain Avenue home in Paducah.

But during the fall, she started a new method, known as forcing, which allows her to grow the bulbs in staggered segments of close to 1,000, lengthening the blooming period to about 12 months.

Eventually, thousands more of the flowers will make their way into then out of her basement and into the hands of florists at Midtown Market.

The basement atmosphere allows Thodoropoulos to keep the plants cool — a setting they much prefer to the unseasonably warm winter that’s already caused some blooms to open too early.

“This is not really great for them,” she said of the weather that has reached into the 70s in multiple recent days.

“This is why I like forcing. It takes a little bit of the anxiety and unknown of weather out of it.”

While Thodoropoulos has always been attached to tulips, it was a recent trip to The Netherlands, particularly Keukenhof’s world-renowned tulip farm — that cemented her desire to start her own business.

“It was amazing,” she said

“Like millions and millions and millions of flowers.”

Compared to the more than seven million blooms at Keukenhof, Thodoropouls said her 40,000 seem like “not that many.”

“It was great beginning research when I went,” she said, adding she sources all of her own tulips from The Netherlands.

Thodoropoulos presents at local gardening clubs, and often includes some of the history of the cut flower trade, particularly developments in the 1960s through the 1990s that brought inexpensive and exotic blooms to America, and hurt the domestic flower trade.

Now, she said, local growers try to specialize in varieties of flowers more interesting or fragrant than what’s normally found in grocery stores.

“There are ways to compete and stay relevant,” she said.

Thodoropoulos said she hopes to “scale up a little bit” and expand her business to working with more florists and individuals.

And while she said the business of growing can create stress and anxiety more than personal gardening, she loves sharing her favorite blooms with the community.

“They’re such a happy flower,” she said.

Updates on the u-pick location opening and more of Thodoropoulos’s flowers will be available on her website, tuliplaneflowerfarm.com and “Tulip Lane” social media channels.