Tulips In A Vase: How To Make Tulips Last Longer

Written by Heather Hall
Updated: February 12, 2023
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A beautiful arrangement of tulips can bring life to any area. However, without a root system, they start to fade away and perish in a vase. Fortunately, there are ways to keep the vibrant blooms alive and fresh longer! You may have to do more than simply cut the stems and put them in a container, but it is worth it in the end. Here are a few of our favorite tricks.

tulip bouquet

Here’s how to keep tulips fresh from a bouquet to a vase.

©Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock.com

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How To Keep Cut Tulips Fresh

Clean Vase — After cleaning your vase with soap and water, rinse it thoroughly to ensure that all the soap is removed. This step is important because bacteria and other microbes can thrive if left behind in a moist environment. By rinsing the vase completely, you are preventing these organisms from growing and potentially damaging your tulips or making them wilt faster than normal. Additionally, try to use a clean cloth when handling the tulips as any dirt on them could contain bacteria which will reduce their life span.

Hydrated Flowers — When putting together a big bouquet of tulips, take some extra time to ensure your tulips have plenty of water before arranging them. Place the entire stem, nearly up to the flower head, in a bucket filled with 110°F water. You can also dissolve plant food in the water if you want. Put the bucket in a cool, dark, and humid area, such as a basement, for at least two hours or overnight. After that, you can proceed to arrange the flowers as desired.

Clean water — To make sure that cut tulips remain healthy and vibrant, make sure to replenish the vase with cold, fresh water every one or two days. To maximize the lifespan of the flowers, completely change the water every few days.

Clean Cuts — Before you place the tulips in a vase, use a sharp knife or scissors to cut each stem at an angle. Make sure you do this in the sink with the water running, so air won’t block the stem’s water-conducting tissues. Be careful not to break or crush the stem, as this will reduce water uptake and make it easier for microbes to get inside.

Angled Cut — When cutting the stems of tulips to put in a vase, make sure to cut them on a slant so they can drink up more water. If you cut them straight across, the stems sit flat on the bottom of the vase, blocking the plant from drinking.

No Foliage — When you are arranging your tulips in a vase, make sure that no leaves are submerged in the water. This will help prevent the growth of bacteria that can block the stems and prevent them from taking up water. To make it simpler, remove most of the lower leaves in the garden while you are picking the tulips.

Top up — Observe the water level in the vase initially because tulips absorb a lot of liquid, especially on day one. After two days, inspect the water to determine if it is cloudy. If so, remove the flowers and pour out the old water. Rinse the stems and cut an inch off the base of each one. Clean the vase and fill it with new cool water.

Cool Room — Keeping cut tulips in a cool spot will make them last much longer. Professional flower shops store cut flowers in special refrigerators that are 34-36°F and stay at 90-95% humidity. It may be difficult to replicate these ideal conditions in your home, but you can extend the life of your bouquets by displaying them away from heat and sunlight.

Fridge — Before you go to sleep each night, store your bouquet of tulips in the refrigerator. This is the most effective method for maintaining the freshness of the flowers because cooler temperatures slow down their aging process. If you follow this technique, your tulips can remain fresh and vibrant for up to ten days!

Recut — To keep cut tulips fresh, trim the stems every few days. This helps to remove any bacteria and prevent wilting of the flowers. It also allows for a better flow of water and nutrients to reach the flower head, which will help it stay fresher for longer.

Remove and Replace — Different kinds of flowers last varied lengths of time. To keep your bouquet looking nice, pluck off any dying flowers or wilting foliage. As the arrangement becomes smaller, move it to a container that is more appropriate for its size.

Where To Display Them

Do not place tulips in direct sunlight as this will lead to premature wilting. Instead, display them in a cool, sheltered place. Did you know that tulips can continue to grow for a couple of days after being cut? This can cause them to lean toward the light. You can avoid this by rotating your vase a quarter turn every day.

When deciding where to place your tulips, try to avoid areas such as open windows, ducts, and fans, as these can cause the flowers to dry up quickly. Similarly, don’t set your bouquet near ripening fruit, as the ethylene gas released by the fruit can shorten the lifespan of your arrangement.

tall tulip arrangement

Place tulips in a vase away from direct sunlight to avoid premature wilting.

©Mariia Boiko/Shutterstock.com

Should I Put Anything In The Water?

You don’t have to put anything in the water with your cut flowers. But there are a few tricks you can employ to make your flowers last longer. Here are a few common methods.

Sugar — In order to make tulips last longer in a vase, pour two tablespoons of sugar into the water. The sugar works as an energy source for the flowers and helps them stay alive for a longer period of time. Additionally, the sugar encourages flower blooms to open up more, making them look fuller and brighter in your vase.

Vinegar — In order to prolong the life of tulips in a vase, combine two tablespoons of white vinegar into the water and stir. The vinegar will help to prevent bacteria from developing and will keep the blossoms fresh for a longer period of time.

Flower Food — If using commercial packets of flower food, be sure it is mixed according to the directions on the label. It is equally important to make sure that the water is not too diluted or too concentrated.

Lemon-lime Soda — Adding a quarter cup of soda to a vase full of fresh flowers can help them stay vibrant for an extended period of time. Research has indicated that tulips that have been treated with sugar-containing soda remain as healthy looking on day ten as they did on day one. This is one old wives’ tale confirmed to be true!

Vodka — Put a few drops of vodka (or any clear alcohol) in the water of your flower vase. Vodka has a special effect on blooms, as it helps to stop the production of ethylene gas. It doesn’t appear to be as effective as lemon-lime soda, but it does extend the life of cut flowers.

Do Pennies Keep Tulips Straight?

It may sound like an old wives’ tale, but this simple trick can help make your drooping tulips stand straight up in the vase. It’s best to use a penny that was minted prior to 1982 since they were made of 95% copper.

Take the tulips out of their vase and put a penny in the water, and set it aside. Prep the flowers by removing the bottom one or two leaves and then cut all of the stems at a 45-degree angle and place them back in the vase. After about an hour, your tulips will be standing straight up!


The photo featured at the top of this post is © tomertu/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

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