Tulips: Harbingers of Spring

Tulips are one of the world’s most easily recognized and loved spring flowers.

For lasting enjoyment, purchase tulips in a tight bud stage, where the flower is completely closed; the colour just slightly appearing.

At home, re-cut the tulips on a sharp angle using a clean knife to open the flower uptake channels. Like all bulb flowers, tulips should be arranged in cold (not lukewarm) water.

Tulips are big drinkers, so be sure to check water levels daily. For the longest vase life, change the water daily.

Tulips look best massed together in bouquets of solid colours or in monochromatic varieties. Loose stems of bear grass and broad leaf salal at the base of tulip bouquets provide for good use of accent foliages.

A personal favourite is the parrot tulip variety. Among the oldest and most eye-catching of tulips varieties, the huge flowers of the parrot varieties are very showy with delicate and feathery laciniated edges.

If you are looking to give meaning, tulips are generally associated with perfect love. Red tulips are strongly associated with true love, while white tulips are used to send a message of forgiveness. Admire one’s beautiful eyes with variegated tulips varieties.

Once arranged, you may be surprised that the straight upright tulips you arranged yesterday are now leaning and drooping today. Your flowers are neither wilting nor behaving mischievously.

“They’re just doing what tulips so – dance in the vase,” says David Caras of the Netherlands Flower Bulb Center in New York City.

Unlike other flowers, tulips never stop growing after being cut. The phenomenon of photo tropism takes place as stems continue to grow upwards toward the light source. The flowers open wide during the day and close at night.

After a few days, especially if exposed to sunlight, tulips flowers will open so wide they almost appear flat.

For lasting enjoyment of your tulip bouquet, change the style of your bouquet once the flowers start to open. Just before the tulips reach the opened stage, gather the stems together in a tight posy and place the stems in a cylindrical vessel that holds the blooms tightly together.

At this stage, you may wish to spiral the stems and tie them in place with florists string. Re-cut the flower stems, leaving the flowers to rest above the brim of the vessel. The snug blossoms will hold their shape, and last longer than in a loose arrangement.

Now is the perfect time of year to enjoy a bouquet of tulips. Arguably one of the most popular flowers found world over, tulips are a welcomed sign of spring and new things to come.

Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. She is the owner and founder of Northern Elegance.

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