Keep tulips from drooping

If you follow me on Instagram you saw that my sweet husband surprised me with a bouquet of tulips last Friday. I love, love, love tulips and probably love them even more so this year because I’m so looking forward to Spring (we have 7″ of snow and an ice storm happening as I write this!) While I appreciate the charm of a drooping, swinging tulip I know many prefer their tulips not to droop (and in many arrangements they look better standing tall) so I thought I’d share my tips to care for tulips in a vase, keep tulips from drooping and make cut tulips last!

How to Care for Tulips in a Vase

Start Fresh

First and foremost start with fresh blooms. Fresh cut tulips should have bright green stems that feel crisp to the touch. Nothing is going to help your tulips avoid dropping if you start with old flowers that have already taken a turn for the worse.

Choose the Right Vase

When displaying tulips in a vase, choosing the right vase can make a big difference in whether they will droop or not. Choose a vase that is tall enough to offer the tulips support. Avoid vases that curve outward at the top if you want your tulips to stay upright. As you can see below, if you use a wide topped vase the tulips will follow that arch. Fill your vase with clean cold water. (It’s often said that dropping a penny made prior to 1981 will help keep the stems upright due to the copper in the water…I can’t say for sure that it will work but I do it out of habit just in case!)

How to Keep Tulips from Drooping

Recut the Stems

Recut the stems at least an inch from the previous cut while holding underwater. Remove all leaves that will be under the waterline in your vase and put in the vase while still in the florist wrap, this will offer support to your tulips as they “drink” up the water the first few hours. If your blooms were loose, gently wrap them in plastic wrap to keep them upright.

Condition the Stems

Allow your tulips to remain the vase, wrapped, for 5 hours or overnight. Conditioning the stems in this way allows them to fill with water while maintaining that upright position and making it more likely they will stand upright longer.

If All Else Fails…

If all else fails you have the option of threading floral wire up through the stem to the base of the flower (carefully!!) Coil the excess at the bottom of the stem into a spiral for stability. Gently bend the flower where you want it and it should hold it’s shape.

How to Make Cut Tulips Last

Maintain the Arrangement

Keep your tulips out of direct sunlight (they will turn towards the sun!) and change the water daily. Snip the stems every 3 days to help them continue to keep fresh.

Have you gotten your first bouquet of tulips yet this year? Isn’t it amazing just how many different colors they come in? What’s your favorite?

For more tips like this, check out my secret for keeping Hydrangeas fresh…

…and how to arrange a grocery store bouquet like a pro!

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Tulips are quintessential Spring flowers and easy to find in just about every grocery store — but I have to admit, I rarely buy them. Reason being, I get them home and promptly watch them droop every which way. Recently, however, that all changed. My mom knocked on my door with tulips in tow and walked me through how to keep those tulips standing tall.

What to Do

Leave the tulips in the wrapping and trim the end of the stems significantly. Fill a tall vase with cold water and place the wrapped tulips in the vase. If you buy tulips with no wrapping, no worries! Just grab a piece of cellophane (or something similar) and wrap it around the flowers and tape. Leave the wrapping for at least a couple hours or even overnight, if you have time.

Why This Works

Tulips’ stems are actually completely hollow, so without the extra support of the wrapping, it’s no surprise that as the flowers try to suck up water, the weight of the flowers causes the stems to buckle. The extra support allows the stems to drink up all the water they need to keep those flowers perky. With my mom’s trick and refreshing the water every couple days, the tulips stood tall all week.


Be sure to use this tip with other hollow-stem flowers like amaryllis, bells-of-Ireland, dahlias, delphiniums, and hollyhocks to keep those Spring flowers around all season long. Get even more tips on keeping those flowers fresh longer.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Lauren Hendrickson

Tulips are synonymous with spring. The famed Dutch flower, and one of the easiest to care for, tulips come in pretty much every colour imaginable and they look fabulous in every space whether it’s in the garden or in a vase.

Cut flower tulips

Have you currently got some tulips in a vase? When it comes to cut flower tulips, it’s easier than you think to keep yours looking lovely and perked up. Bloom & Wild’s lead florist, Caroline, outlines exactly how you can make your tulips last longer in some simple steps below, plus provides more flower care solutions for common dilemmas.

How to avoid drooping tulips

1. Trim your tulips: Trimming tulips by 3-5cm allows water inside to hydrate them. Always cut at an angle to give as much surface area to drink from.
2. Pop them in water ASAP: Tulips, like all flowers, use water to prop-up their stems. Pop them in water as soon as you can to help them rehydrate and bloom.
3. Find their dream home: Keep your tulips away from direct sunlight and radiators (they’ll dehydrate your stems) and fruit (it releases gases that’ll make them fade).
4. Change their water: Tulips don’t like drinking dirty water, so refresh your vase every few days and re-trim your stems 1cm each time.

Isabel PaviaGetty Images

Why are my tulips are floppy?

Don’t worry, they aren’t dead. Tulips use water to prop up their stems so they’re just thirsty after their journey to you. Help yours perk up by trimming them, popping them in water and then leaving them overnight. By morning they won’t look droopy.

Why are my tulips so much shorter than my other stems?

They’re naturally much shorter than other stems but they’ll keep growing in your vase. Data Scientist Dave carried out a tulip experiment to prove it. He measured some tulips on the day they arrived and they were 31cm on average. Then he popped them in fresh water with flower food and waited a few days. On day five, he took them out of the water and measured them all, one by one. On average they’d grown by a huge 17cm!

Why do tulips keep growing in water?

Tulips are really responsive to sunlight and that’s why they move. They’re turning themselves towards the light sources around them, hoping to be seen by pollinators. You might also spot them opening up on sunny days and closing up at night time.

ArtfoliophotoGetty Images

Why don’t my tulips stay straight?

Because they keep growing in their vase, you’ll find they playfully move around in the water. It’s part of their charm and nothing to worry about!

But I want my tulip to be straight – what can I do?

If you want your tulips to stand-up straight for a dinner party or special occasion, we recommend taking them out their vase, tightly wrapping them with newspaper into a cone shape, popping back in water, and keeping them in a dark room overnight. When you unwrap them in the morning, they’ll be perfect! Then remember to rotate your vase throughout to prevent them growing one way towards the light.

Looking for tulip bulbs? These are some of the most gorgeous varieties to plant in your garden

Tulipa ‘Rococo’ parrot tulip bulbs

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Tulip Bulbs – Honeymoon

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Tulipa ‘Cafe Noir’

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Olivia Heath Digital Editor, House Beautiful UK Olivia Heath is the Digital Editor at House Beautiful UK, uncovering tomorrow’s biggest home trends, delivering stylish room decor inspiration and rounding up the hottest properties on the market.

About author

Tulips are one of the most popular types of flowers in the world. Much like roses, chrysanthemums and carnations, florists tend to keep tulips in stock as much as possible. That said, unlike other popular flowers, tulips tend to be a bit more delicate. This delicate nature of these flowers should not, however, detour anyone from buying them. Instead, it means that you need to take a bit more special care of these cut flowers to make them last longer.

The first thing that you need to understand is what makes tulips droop and why they begin to droop faster than other types of flowers. Knowing why this happens will help you solve the problem and extend the life of your cut tulips. Consider the structure of the tulip. The flower is rather large and heavy while the stems is not as strong as that of a rose or other flowers. As the tulip grows and blooms, it’s only normal for the soft stem to bend with such a weight pulling it down. Now, after cutting a flower from the parent plant, it might not get its nutrients via the root system but it still absorbs water and nutrients through its stem. Stems are able to absorb a fair amount but they aren’t quite as effective as the plant’s roots. This means that flowers tend to grow faster while still attached to the plant as opposed to after they have been cut.

Many people have come up with several ways of preventing tulips from dropping but they don’t all work. For instance, some people add copper pennies to the water in the hopes that the copper will be released into the vase water and help strengthen the cut flowers and their stems. There is no evidence that this works. Some even like to add chlorine to their vase water. This can help slow down the drooping but it can also bleach the stem and cause the petals to fade. Experts like professional florists advise against piercing the stem just below the flower since they find it does more harm than good. Of course, you can try each of these methods yourself if you are curious.

Now, before you give up, there are some easy tricks that do work. Firstly, when choosing your flowers, make sure that they are still in bud form but have started to open. Tight buds may never open and fully opened flowers will perish in a short period. You will also need to trim the stems. Make sure that you use a very sharp pair of scissors or knife. You don’t want to damage or crush the stems since this will make it difficult for them to absorb water. If you are cutting the flowers from the actual plant, do so just above the node. This will encourage further plant growth and more flowers. Care for your cut tulips just as you would any other fresh flower. Tulips do, however, enjoy fresh cold water rather than warm or room temperature water. Change the vase water regularly, add a flower preservative and keep your tulips out of the wind, sun and away from air conditioners, heaters and fire places.

3 Ways to Keep Tulips from Drooping

You want to enjoy your cut flowers for as long as possible—and when it’s tulips, you especially want that little vase of spring to last as the snow melts. You’ve probably heard the old wive’s tale of dropping a penny into the water, but it’s not necessarily effective. We talked to the manager of the Better Homes & Gardens Test Garden to get proven tips and tricks to keep your tulips from drooping.

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1. Use Floral Preservatives

Many pre-cut bouquets come with a small packet of flower food to mix into the water. If you’re cutting tulips from your own garden or buying a bunch from a farmer’s market, you can find larger containers or packs of flower food packets online or at garden centers. Follow the instructions on the packet and your blooms should thrive.

Buy it: Floralife Crystal Clear Flower Food, $18

2. Be Mindful of Plant Pairings

A spring bulb combination that seems like a no-brainer is a bouquet of daffodils and tulips. While they may look pretty together in a vase, you’ll notice that the tulips droop and dry out much faster than the daffodils. This is because the daffodils release a sap into the water, making it difficult for the tulip stems to take water. If you want to keep your cut tulips happy as can be, avoid pairing them with daffodils in a vase.

3. Give Them a Twist

Tulips grow and bend toward light, so you may notice cut tulips start to droop if they’re on a side away from the window. Rotate your vase each day to help the stems stay straight and to give each bloom balanced light.

Whether it’s about adding a pop of color to your counter or creating a centerpiece for your annual family dinner, tulips are a popular choice for floral decor. However, tulips can be a bit tricky and it’s a downer when, just two days after picking them up from the shops, your beautiful tulips have started to drop over the edge of the vase. What do you do? Well, we’ve got the answer. Here are a few tips to keep your precious blossoms beautiful and healthy.

When trying to perk up droopy, dehydrated tulips, there are 4 things you should try:

  • Cut the stems! Try cutting them at an angle whilst they’re still underwater. This will prevent gas bubbles from entering the stem.
  • Pin ‘em! Stick a pin through the stem of your tulip just below the bloom, this will have a similar impact on the flower as trimming the stems will.
  • Need a quick fix for a one-night centerpiece? Cut your stems and put your tulips into cold water. This will perk them up for a short time but be sure to keep in mind that this isn’t a sustainable way to keep your tulips healthy. Tulips should regularly be put into room temperature water or the flower may go into shock. So this trick will perk them up fast, but it will cut their lifespan.
  • Add plant food to your vase! Add a simple tablespoon of sugar, ¼ of a tablespoon of any household bleach, and two tablespoons of lemon or lime juice. Mix all of this into a cup and a half to 2 cups of warm water.

Sound complicated? Don’t worry! It’s actually easier than it sounds, just keep reading.

How to Perk Up Drooping Tulips

There’s nothing more somber than seeing beautifully vibrant tulips start to fall over the edge of your hand-picked vase. Why do they droop? It’s likely because their stems aren’t transporting water efficiently. So how do you stop this from happening? Well, keep reading because I’ve compiled a few tips that will help your tulips last longer.

Choose Your Blooms Carefully

The journey in maintaining your flower’s longevity starts as early as the garden or flower shop. There are two tips to keep in mind when picking out your flowers: the age of the flowers and the length of their stems. Now, if you want a long-lasting flower arrangement, you want the blooms with closed buds. Because they are the youngest, they will live the longest. As for the stems, you’ll want the shortest stems possible while also ensuring that they fit your vase properly. The shorter the stems, the shorter the journey water has to take to your blooms. It will become much harder to prevent drooping the longer your stem gets.

If you’re looking for a one-day, quick-cut arrangement, open blooms are fine. In addition, using cold water in the vase with your flowers will help perk them up quickly. This is only for short-term presentation, however, and is not a sustainable way to keep your flowers from drooping as your flowers will go into shock and last a shorter time. But if you’re in need of a quick fix for a dinner party, this is one way to go.

Pinning Tulips

A popular way to keep flowers from drooping is something called pinning. Just like when you cut the stems to your flowers to keep air bubbles from interrupting the water flow up to the bloom, pinning is another way to keep a steady flow of water through the blossom.

Just take a pin and put it horizontally through the stem of the flower just below the bloom. Make sure it goes completely through the center of the stem and out the other side. This will allow for extra gas to escape the stem and provide better passage for water and, if provided, nutrients from plant food.

How Long do Tulips Last in a Vase?

Cared for properly, tulips can last anywhere from 7 to 10 days in a vase! However, in addition to the things mentioned earlier, there are some things you may not have considered previously that seriously impact the longevity of your blooms.

Clean Your Vase

First, before you even put water into the vase, make sure to clean your vase well with antibacterial soap. It may be easy to pass up, but a dirty vase can significantly decrease the longevity of your flowers and, of course, won’t display their beauty as well as a clean vase will.

Add Plant Food

Some people may be intimidated by the idea of plant food, but it’s actually a simple concept. Have you ever put sugar into the water at the base of a tree? That’s feeding the tree! For your tulips, something similar is needed. One of the best plant foods you can make at home is a simple mix of sugar, lemon or lime juice, and a little household bleach. adding bleach to your tulips to keep them healthy may sound weird, but it can actually be very beneficial.

Start with warm water, a cup and a half to two cups. Then, add one to two tablespoons of lemon or lime juice, ¼ of a tablespoon of household bleach, and a dash (Or about a tablespoon) of granulated white sugar. This is inexpensive and easy and will help keep your beautiful blossoms healthy for longer.

Need an alternative? Try some fizzy lemon-lime soda out for size. That’ll be one part of fizzy pop to three parts warm water and, again, ¼ tablespoons of household bleach.

Now watch your flowers come back to life!

More about tulips

If you love tulips as much as we do, we think you’ll enjoy these articles too –

Where Can I Plant Tulips in My Garden?

When Do Tulips Bloom?

And for some tulip-y eye candy (as well as care tips!) you should check out our post about variegated/striped tulips and the one about black tulips.