Tulips are so beautiful, but it’s also a flower that many people have a hard time caring for! A question we get a lot is what is the best way to care for cut tulips so that they don’t droop.
The first thing is to explain why tulips may bend more than other types of flower:
- Cut tulips are geotropic. That means they will start to bend with gravity.
- Tulips are also phototropic – they’ll grow and bend towards a light source
- Tulips continue to grow, sometimes up to an inch after they have been cut, so if not recut, they’ll start to bend over the vase as they grow.
So, don’t get frustrated…it’s not you! Tulips can seem to have a mind of their own, but our tulip care and handling tips will help you take care of them so you can enjoy them for as long as possible!
Tulips typically arrive dry packed (not in water) with closed blooms and each bunch is wrapped in paper or plastic sleeves. Don’t be alarmed if they look a little tired on arrival. They’re in a hibernation mode and just need to hydrate to perk back up!
You’ll want to quickly get them in water. To help support the stems and also to keep them straight, leave the wrap on. Just gently pull it up to expose the stem bottoms. If you accidentally unwrapped already, don’t worry, just get some paper (like craft paper) and gently wrap the stems so they are supported upright. You’ll also want to use a container or vase that is tall enough to help support the tulips.
Cut at least 1 inch off each stem at a diagonal and immediately place in clean cool water (about 3”).
Remove any leaves that fall below the water line. Also, make sure not to get any water on the leaves or blooms within the wrap. Excess moisture will cause premature molding, so if you accidentally drip some water into the bouquet or you see excessive moisture (from condensation) forming on the plastic sleeve, just gently blot with a paper towel to soak it up.
You should let the tulips hydrate for at least 2-3 hours before your arrange them and you can keep the wrap on for up to a day. After that, you’ll want to gently remove the wrap so the blooms have room to open up. At this point, if you see any droopy outer leaves, just gently pull them away and discard.
To maximize vase life, you’ll want to re-cut the stems every 2-3 days and change out the water to keep bacteria from contaminating the stems. You’ll also want to keep an eye on any leaves that fall below the water line or become yellow or brown and gently remove them. Also, keep the tulips away from heat and direct sunlight. You’ll want to try and keep them in a room with diffused light or rotate your vase regularly so the tulips don’t all grow in one direction towards light.
You might be wondering if you need to add flower food to the water. If you have bulb flower food (made specifically for flowers like tulips), then it will certainly help to use it. Regular flower food can also be used, but the sugar in it can sometimes speed up the yellowing of the leaves. Nothing can really substitute keeping the flowers and water clean, so make sure you recut stems and wash out your vase regularly for best vase life.
When properly cared for, most tulips have a vase life of 5-7 days, but some specialty varieties are a little more short-lived and may only last 3-4 days. (If you want to learn more about tulips, read our post on the different types of tulips)
How to Speed up the Blooming Process
The bloom rate of some tulips may be slower than others. So, if you’re using tulips for a wedding or event and need to get them to open up faster, there are a few tips you can do to speed up the process:
- Give the tulips a fresh cut and put them in lukewarm (not hot) water. The warmer temperature will help the tulips to hydrate faster and open up.
- Put the tulips in a bright room, but not in direct sunlight or heat. The light will encourage the tulips to “grow”.
How to Slow Down the Blooming Process
So what if you need the bloom rate to slow down? You’ll want to do the opposite:
- Keep the tulips in cold water. The cold temperature will help slow things down.
- Store the tulips in a cool room with little to no light
- If you have the space, you could also place the tulips in a refrigerator but make sure it’s not too humid or set to freezing temps and make sure the tulips stay dry.
I hope that these tips help and if you have any other questions or tips of your own to share, leave a comment or drop us a line (firstname.lastname@example.org). Stay tuned as we’ll be sharing our tips on different ways to arrange tulips!