The Secrets to Enjoying Tulips as Cut Flowers

Tulips are a welcome addition to any home in the dreary months of February and March. In Ontario, these tulips have been ‘forced’ in a greenhouse. Usually the bulbs are potted up in soil and put through a cold treatment for 10-12 weeks. After that time period, they are moved into a warm greenhouse environment where they bloom earlier than field grown tulips.

Once they are cut, greenhouse grown and field grown tulips are treated the same way.

  1. Picking the best – When buying tulips, make sure the buds are tight and the colour of the tulips is showing. These will be the longest lasting.
  2. Choosing a Vase – Once you get your tulips home, pick a vase that is super clean. Any dirt will only cause bacteria to grow around your tulip stems and shorten their lives. Tulips work well in tall, straight, glass vases. Keep in mind that they will continue to grow once they are in water, some times as much as 6 inches. Tulips are also ‘phototropic’. They will bend towards the light, so rotate containers daily to keep stems more upright. Once you have picked a vase, fill it approximately 1/3 full of room temperature water. Tulips last longer in shallow water but they also like to drink….a lot. You will need to keep your eye on the water level and increase as needed. This is where the glass vase comes in handy.
  3. To feed or not to feed – There are lots of home remedies that suggest they help keep tulips fresh. Adding a splash of lemon-lime soda, a teaspoon of sugar or a penny in the water have not been proven to extend their lives but I also don’t think it hurts. I am not convinced that a commercial floral preservative makes a big difference in the life of your cut tulips. If you got a packet, it doesn’t hurt to add it to the water but if you didn’t, making sure your water is clean and plentiful usually works just as well.
  4. Clip & Snip – Before you put the stems in the vase, make sure to remove any foliage that will be below the water line. Foliage tends to decompose quickly and will contaminate the water. Always make a fresh 45 degree cut on the stems before they go into the vase.
  5. Repeat – Tulips kept in a cool location, out of direct sunlight will last much longer. Remember to top up  the water and completely change it every couple of days. This will help to keep harmful bacteria at bay.              Tulips are one of the first harbingers of Spring. They are food for your winter weary soul. They are definitely worth having around as the snow melts and the temperature starts to rise. They are sure to bring a smile to your face.  At Perennial Petals, we are patiently waiting for our filed tulips to start poking their leaves through the ground and hoping we will have a fabulous selection for you at the Newmarket Farmers’ Market for Mother’s Day.