How to make tulips last longer

How to make tulips last longer

It’s officially spring, which means it’s tulip time. If you’re eager to purchase a bouquet of tulips from your local florist or Trader Joe’s, or you’re ordering some for Mother’s Day, you’re probably curious about how to make these beautiful flowers last as long as possible.

Tulips are known for their phototropism, meaning they will continue to grow and bend toward the light, even after being cut, horticultural expert Tony O’Neill of Simplify Gardening tells Simplemost. For a natural look, O’Neill recommends using a tall vase to support their stems and prevent drooping, allowing them to follow their natural growth pattern.

O’Neill says tulips should last five to 12 days in a vase, if you care for them properly.

But what else can you do to help your tulips grow? Does putting a coin in the bottom of a vase really work? What about an aspirin tablet? Ahead, flower experts share their top tulip tips.


How do you choose the right tulip?

The first step to extending the life of your tulips is to find ones that have a long blooming period ahead of them.

“You’ll want to go for the variety with the firmer leaves, making sure the flowers are tight but have developed color,” advises Carmela De Castro, owner of Los Angeles-based Orchid Republic Floral Boutique.

I find that double tulips tend to last a little longer than regular tulips. Double tulips are those that have a more delicate and dense appearance.

When you’re shopping for tulips, O’Neill advises looking for those that have green, firm stems, which means they’re fresh.

What do you do with the tulips once you bring them home?

A woman fills a vase with water to cut tulips

Once you transport your cut tulips home, remove the outer leaves or any brown or floppy leaves. Cut the stems well to at least an inch or more, depending on the vase you’ll be using, De Castro explains.

Choose the appropriate vase

“I like to use a slightly taller vase with a smaller opening to provide the tulips with some support as they will continue to grow,” she says. “For this reason, I like to cut tulips on the shorter side when first placing them in a vase, allowing them to grow inside the vase.”

Cut the tulip stems diagonally

When you cut tulips, cut the stems diagonally, suggests O’Neill. This increases the surface area for water absorption, he explains. Pro Tip: Cut the stems under running water if possible, to prevent any air bubbles that could prevent water absorption.

Make sure the vase is clean

Make sure the vase you place your cut tulips in is completely clean to avoid any type of bacterial growth, which can shorten the life of your flowers, O’Neill says. Fresh, cold water works best.

Choose a good location for your tulips to bloom

Tulips thrive in indirect light and cooler locations away from direct sunlight, heaters or drafts — and consistent conditions help prolong their freshness, says Juan Palacio, founder and CEO of BloomsyBox, a floral subscription company.

Unusual Tricks That Claim to Make Tulips Last Longer (But They Don’t Work)

Colorful tulips in a vase

You may have heard that doing things like adding a little Sprite to a vase of water or putting a penny in the bottom of a vase will extend the life of your tulips. But the experts we consulted say these are mostly just old wives’ tales.

“Sprite, pennies, aspirin — I find that all of those methods don’t provide a lot of benefit,” De Castro says. “In fact, it contributes to dirty or turbid water, which in turn will contribute to stem rot or mushy stems.”

With that in mind, here are some common tricks that claim to extend the life of your tulips — and why they probably won’t work.

Put a penny in the vase: The idea here is that the copper in the coin acts as a natural fungicide, O’Neill says. “However, most pennies are no longer made from copper, and there is little scientific evidence to support this practice,” he adds.

Add an aspirin tablet to the water: O’Neill says aspirin can lower the pH level of water, which some believe can help with water absorption. “Although it may have a small effect on longevity, keeping the water clean and fresh is more effective,” he says.

Add a splash of sprite to the water: O’Neill explains that adding Sprite or other clear soda is thought to provide sugar as food for the tulip plants, while the acidity inhibits bacterial growth. “Although there is some truth to this, eating too much sugar can actually encourage bacterial growth,” he says.

If you add Sprite, mix it with water at a 1:3 ratio, and continue to change the water regularly.

Instead, the best thing you can do is provide your tulips with cool, clean water, filled in the middle of the vase, says de Castro.

“Tulips are heavy drinkers, so you’ll need to refill them with clean, cool water every couple of days. If the stems have become mushy at all, cut them back to allow the tulips to get the water they need to stay fresh longer.”

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