Tulips are such a durable and versatile flower. In your garden you’ll notice that they are a very long-lasting flower. They can also be found in every grocery store and floral shop in the spring, and thanks to their incredibly long growing season, they’re often available as early as late-January all the way through May. You can even find some of the more common varieties way out of season since it’s such a popular flower for wholesaler greenhouses. All of those reasons and more is why I chose tulips for our Spring 2020 box.
We've gone crazy for tulips this season, and we want to share all of the fun, extra info you need to enjoy them as well.
Cutting from Your Garden
Your yard is finally awash in springtime color, and you want to bring some of it inside. Before you start snipping, you need to keep a few things in mind.
Start with a bucket of cold water. Tulips are spring flowers, and they love that cold, winter runoff. Keep the bucket close by at all times. As you cut each tulip, it should be placed in the water immediately. Even ten minutes between cut and water can have dramatic effects on the longevity of your arrangement. Avoid piling at all costs. If disaster strikes and your tulips somehow don’t make it into water right away, snip a little off the end of the stem and put in water as soon as possible.
A tulip bulb only produces one stem per grow season. Once you cut, it’s not coming back. Be strategic about where you pull flowers from, using a sporadic pattern. You don’t want to give your flower bed a bad haircut by leaving a bald spot of only stems and leaves. Thin, rather than crop.
Choosing at the Store
If buying from a store, you want to find the youngest tulips. This is generally good advice for all flowers. But unlike young roses, which are easy to spot due to more closed petals, old and young tulips look very similar at first glance. The trick is to look at the stems.
Many flowers continue to develop after being cut, but tulips are one of the only flowers that will continue to grow after being put in a vase. Inches of added height is possible in a few days’ time. Thus, in the grocery store, you want to choose shorter stems. The taller stems have most likely been sitting at the store for longer, growing all the while.
Growing Like a Weed
Once you’ve cut or purchased the freshest tulips possible, you can arrange them into something beautiful. A young bunch of tulips should be able to last a week or longer, as long as you keep your vase water clean. But as mentioned, those tulips might grow three inches in that week. You may not mind, but if you do, you probably don’t want to spend time digging them out of the vase, snipping them, and then rearranging.
To stunt the growth of tulips before you arrange them, you want to prick the stem with a knife. Make the cut not too deep and not too long, since you don’t want the tulip to lose stability. This will release just a bit of pressure, so that when it’s drinking water, it’s not inclined to grow taller. To see this done, you can watch my demo video at the top of the page!
Tulips are not poisonous, so a kitchen paring knife will work for this—but keep in mind that many plants can be toxic if consumed, like daffodils or narcissus, so always play it safe and use a floral knife or a kitchen knife dedicated only to flowers if you are unsure. Also, be aware that the pesticides used on flowers are graded non-edible, so any knife you use on them should be washed very thoroughly.
For this season’s demo video, I chose plain, standard tulips, because those are easy to find almost anywhere and come in a wide variety of colors: pinks, purples, yellows, oranges, reds, whites. You can create so many fun color combinations with just those. Depending on where you shop, you may be able to find some other varieties to spice up your arrangements. Here’s the rundown of some of my favorites.
Fringe tulips are exactly what they say they are. They have a very fancy looking textural element that reminds me of eyelash lace, something I love so much I chose to have it on my wedding dress. These tulips are just as delicately gorgeous.
Parrot tulips are the party animal in this lineup. They often open very wide, looking not at all like the standard egg-shape you usually think of when discussing tulips. When I’ve used them in arrangements, some people have mistaken them for poppies. They are often ruffled and multi-toned, with a long list of available colors.
Double tulips feature many more petals than standard tulips, some looking almost like a rose or peony. This adds texture and weight to an arrangement, giving it a completely different look than would be achieved with more common tulips.