Extend the blooming of a tulip bouquet: right vase, light, and water care

Tulip cut flower bouquet keeping for longer

In spring, tulips burst forth from deep under our flower beds, illuminating our gardens with luminous blooms. Not only that, florists showcase them for weeks on end! Indeed, the tulip is the ideal cut flower. Stems are cut when the flower is still but a bud, and are quickly set in a vase in a bright spot but without direct sun. Here is how to care for tulip bouquets and make them last longer.

Best cut flower tulip varieties

Tulips come in an amazing diversity of species, each more beautiful than the next. However, for cut flower bouquets, the lily-flowered tulips are definitely what we recommend for you. From April to mid-May, these varieties bloom with a unique slender, elegant inflorescence, each pointed petal curving back like those of lily flowers. Flowers appear at the tip of long stems that are one and a half to two feet tall (50 to 60 cm). Two tulip bouquets in terra cotta vasesFrom among the most suited cut flower varieties, you’ll find:

  • the ‘Ballad’ tulip which has fresh, simple magenta red white-rimmed flowers;
  • the ‘Ballerina’, a stunning bright orange variety; its rigid stems and light fragrance make it unique;
  • and the ‘White Triumphator’ tulip, a splendid ancient variety with long, immaculate white flowers.

How to cut tulip flowers?

For your tulip flower bouquet to keep for more than 10 days, it’s best to pick your tulips while the flower is still a closed bud. A good way to know if it’s ready for picking is to wait until you can correctly detect the color of its first petals.

  • Early morning, pick the tulip flowers, selecting those with the longest stems.
  • A sharp knife, secateur or clean pair of scissors will do the trick. Cut the stem slantwise about half an inch from the base of the stem.

Keeping tulips in a bouquet

Whether you’ve picked your tulips yourself or bought them at a florists, always cut the tip off from the bottom of the stems at least half an inch to one inch (1 to 2 cm) before settling them in their vase. Use very sharp scissors and cut the stems slanted. The simple fact of cutting at a slant really helps the tulip absorb water easier. Also, remove the basal leaves, if any, that would otherwise be submerged in water. Clear tulip flower vase with waterBest find for it a transparent vase. Having a clear vase won’t make your flowers last any longer, but it does have one advantage: monitoring the water at a glance will help change it in a timely fashion.

  • The water level should cover the stem by about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm).
  • Best is to use rainwater to fill the vase.
  • Luckily, tap water is also well suited to tulips when in a vase.
  • In any case, it’s important to use water that’s already at room temperature: it helps avoid thermal shock.

You can stir in the contents of a small pouch of cut flower nutrients, if you were given one. This will definitely extend the lifespan of your tulip bouquet. Nonetheless, mixing in such an additive shouldn’t stop you from replacing the water inside the vase on a regular basis. Change the water every day, even if you don’t have additional nutrients anymore: fresh water is more important. Also, slice a quarter-inch off the stem every day (a few millimeters).

  • Great tip: to keep the tulips upright in their vase, tie them in a loose bundle with raffia or coarse string.

Where to place a bouquet of tulips

As is the case for most cut flowers, take great care to keep your tulip vase away from direct sun. Getting the exposure right is the key to helping tulips lastTypically, you shouldn’t place such a flower bouquet on a windowsill under a window facing south (or north, if you’re in the southern hemisphere). Ideally, find a spot that has lots of light but no direct sunlight. Also crucial is to keep your cut flowers far from sources of heat: heater, stove, fireplace… Last of all, pay attention to wind and drafts: drafty spots will dry the bouquet out.

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Image credits (edits: Gaspard Lorthiois): Pixabay: Kavowo, Stefan Schweihofer (here, too) and Petra Fischer