How to Arrange Tulips

A few drooping stems give a tulip bouquet character.
A few drooping stems give a tulip bouquet character. (Image: debreny/iStock/Getty Images)

Available in almost every color, tulips (Tulipa spp.) include single and double-flowered varieties, ones with ruffled edges and wild varieties generally featuring short stems -- all types that work well for indoor flower arrangements. Tulips grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 10 but appear in florist shops in early spring from commercial fields in Holland, Mich., or Washington state.

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Design Choices

Tulip arrangements include single flowers placed in a line of vases running the length of a table, multiple stems placed in one vase, or arrangements of tulips with other flowers whose shapes or colors complement the tulips. Tulip bouquets in a single color offer a stylish and sophisticated feel, while those in multiple colors have more vibrancy and a more casual feel.

Vase Colors and Shapes

Round, square or rectangular vases all work for tulip arrangements as long as the vase comes up about two-thirds of the length of the stems and flowers so the slender stems have support. Choose clear glass or single-colored vases that complement or contrast with the tulips. For example, a sky-blue vase provides contrast with bight tulips but doesn't draw attention away from the flowers. A white vase sets off single-colored or multicolored tulips.

Flowers that Complement Tulips

Flowers with different colors and shapes from tulips add liveliness to an arrangement. Choose other spring flowers such as hyacinths (Hyacinthus orientalis), which grow outdoors in USDA zones 3 through 9, or lilacs (Syringa vulgaris), grown in USDA zones 4 through 7. A few stems of bearded iris (Iris germanica), grown in USDA zones 4 through 10, add interesting shapes to the mix. For green contrast, add a few asparagus fern fronds (Protasparagus densiflorus), grown in USDA zones 9 through 12.

Preparing Flowers and Vases

Begin arranging with a vase half-filled with water so you can place the tulips in water immediately after cutting them, and cut the stems to the same length with an angle at the bottom for greater water absorption. Leave some leaves on the tulips to add visual interest. Typically tulip arrangements don't need flower frogs or pebbles to support the stems, but if you have too few flowers to fill a vase, the fillers help the flowers stay vertical. Place the arrangement out of direct sunlight or drafty areas. Adding flower preservative can help tulips last slightly longer, as can changing water. Other common additives, such as aspirin, don't help cut tulips last.

Arranging Tulips

Place tulips singly in the vase for a loose, casual effect or gather them in a bunch and twist them slightly as you set them into a clear glass vase to give a spiral effect. As the tulips open, the flowers become fuller, so expect heads to droop over the stems to some extent. If the flowers droop from the outset, gather about one-third of them loosely with a rubber band and place those in the center of the vase with single stems around the edges.


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