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How to Care for Fresh Cut Tulips

Two Parts:Preparing Tulips for DisplayDisplaying the Tulips

Nothing says "spring" like an arrangement of bright, gorgeous tulips fresh from the garden or flower shop. Tulips are sturdy flowers that can last up to 10 days after cutting if you know how to care for them correctly. Choose fresh blooms to begin with is key, and you can prolong their beauty by displaying them in the right place and giving them plenty of water. See Step 1 for tricks you can use to create a long-lasting tulip arrangement.

Part 1
Preparing Tulips for Display

  1. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 1
    Choose young tulips. When you're at the flower shop, you might be tempted to buy the tulips with fully-opened, vibrantly colored petals. This would be a fine choice if your tulips were meant to "wow" for a one-night occasion, but if you want them to last a long time, choose tulips that are still tightly closed, with some green buds that aren't fully colored yet. The flowers will open over the course of a few days, giving you more time to enjoy them.
    • If you're cutting your own tulips and you want them to last as long as possible in a vase, cut them before they're fully opened. Cut as close as possible to the ground.
  2. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 2
    Wrap the stems in wet cloth or paper towels. When you bring the tulips home from the shop, keep them wrapped in paper towels or a washcloth soaked in fresh water. This will ensure that the tulips don't start prematurely drying out on the way home. Do this even if the distance from the flower shop to your house isn't very far. Any time out of water will cause the tulips to age faster.
  3. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 3
    Cut 14 inch (0.6 cm) from the base of the stems.[1] Use a small pair of clippers and cut the stems at an angle. This will help them readily soak up water from the vase.
  4. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 4
    Remove extra leaves from the base of the stems. If the stems have any leaves that would be submerged in water when you put them in the vase, remove them. The leaves could start rotting and cause the flowers to go limp before their time.

Part 2
Displaying the Tulips

  1. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 5
    Choose a suitable vase. Pick a vase that will rise up to cover at least half the height of the tulips you've brought home. They'll be able to lean against the vase without bending over. If you use a shorter vase, the flowers will eventually bend forward. This is an effect some people like, but it may cause the flowers to die more quickly.
  2. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 6
    Wash the vase. Make sure it doesn't have sediment leftover from your last bouquet. Use soap and warm water to wash it thoroughly, then dry it completely with a towel. This way your fresh tulips won't pick up bacteria that could case them to start rotting more quickly.
  3. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 7
    Fill the vase with cold water. Cold water will keep the stems fresh and crisp, while warm or hot water would cause them to become weak and soggy.
  4. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 8
    Position the stems around the vase. Arrange the tulips so that they each have a little space in the vase, rather than leaning them all on top of one another. Giving them each a little room will prevent them from crushing one another, which will lead to premature petal drop-page and shorten the lifespan of your flowers.
  5. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 9
    Keep the vase filled with fresh water. Tulips drink up a lot of water. Make sure it never completely runs out, or they'll begin to wilt very quickly.
  6. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 10
    Add some flower food. The addition of flower food, or flower preservative, which is available at flower shops, will greatly lengthen your flowers' lifespan. Read the directions and sprinkle in some food when you add water. It'll keep your tulips standing tall and looking perky for as long as possible.
    • You can try putting lemon juice, pennies, and other such materials in the vase with the flowers. Some say these tricks work, but research shows that flower food is much more effective.[2]
  7. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 11
    Keep the vase out of the sun. Place it in an area that doesn't get too hot and sunny. Otherwise, the tulips will wilt in the heat.
  8. Image titled Care for Fresh Cut Tulips Step 12
    Don't style tulips with flowers in the Narcissus family. Daffodils and other flowers in this family exude a substance that causes flowers to fade faster. Tulips work best in a vase all by themselves.[3]


  • When buying tulips from a store, purchase tulips with the flower head closed.
  • Pierce the stem with a medium needle just below the flower. It never fails to keep the flowers attractive for a week. Dutch tip.
  • Leaving tulips in the vase with a wrap around them for a couple of hours will increase the chances of keeping the stems straight.
  • Because tulips continue to grow even after being cut, they often bend to conform to their container. If desired, straighten the tulips by securing them in damp newspaper and placing them in lukewarm water for a few hours.
  • Tulips are “photogenic”, bending towards the light, so rotate containers daily to keep stems more upright.
  • Tulips can be safely placed in the same bouquet with most other flowers.
  • Place the tulips in an irregular shaped vase for twisted, conformed stems.


  • Do not place tulips in the same vase with daffodils or in the water in which daffodils have set.
  • Adding aspirin, lemon juice, pennies, soda and other mixtures to the water is only a myth for extending the life of cut tulips.
  • After cutting the tulip stem under water, do not allow the stem to dry off before replacing it into the vase or decorative container.

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Categories: Gardening