Tulips and Me: Shall We Dance?by Carol Caggiano on April 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm
I love tulips. There is something about them that is so endearing. The way they “dance” is so fun and flirty. Never staying still, they constantly move around searching for light. Their blooms open wide in the day and close up at night. Not even content with their cut length, they continue to stretch and grow. Elongating stems extend further and further as their days in the vase move forward. Sometimes a frustration for floral designers, these animated blooms definitely “do their own thing.”
Many are bothered by the “stretching” nature of the tulip. They grow out of their bouquets and often their vases as well. It can be frustrating to arrange your flowers and then come back the next day to tulips that grow away from the other flowers, or if alone in the vase have extended past and even drooping over the container that holds them. It’s like containing a wild animal; they just don’t listen and want to be free.
Try cutting the tulips a little shorter than you normally would, tuck them further down in the bouquet when you arrange them or if the arrangement will be all tulips, try a little taller than normal vase to allow for the “stretch.”
Tulips are very alive even after they are cut. Let them do their thing and you will enjoy them so much more than trying to keep them controlled. Irregular and unusual shaped vases are great vessels for tulips as they create a “playground” for our energetic tulips. This can add a fun and funky flair to a party. What a great conversation piece!
The tulip is native to Central Asia and was imported to Europe during the 1500s. In 1636 a phenomenon call “tulip mania” erupted when the trading of tulip bulbs reached an unheard of high. By today’s standards this might have been thought of as the first “bubble” market where buyers pay more for something than it is physically worth. The Dutch were the center of this tulip trading and the price of bulbs skyrocketed until they could no longer be sustained and the bubble burst. It is written that the price of a tulip bulb rose to the extent of being equal to a wealthy merchant’s annual salary. Who would think that a love for flowers would cause such a ruckus?
Now is the time of year when the widest varieties of tulips are available. Choose blooms that are just starting to open, the bud of the flower tight but showing color. Remove leaves that will be below the water level in the vase and cut each stem with a sharp knife allowing the flowers to take water easily. If you want your tulips to be straight, wrap tightly in paper with the paper extending just past the blooms to the water level. Place in water in a tall vase for a few hours and then unwrap and arrange. For extended vase life, recut tulips about an inch every two days. Tulips are very thirsty so check water level daily and replenish as needed. Keep away from direct sunlight and sources of heat.
From very vibrant to soft pastel, tulip colors are magical. Scarlet reds and sunshine yellows are popular yet one of my very favorite tulips is a parrot tulip called “Flame.” It’s been around a long time with ruffled edges and painted red stripes on a vibrant yellow petal. Elegant and festive at the same time, these tulips look great by themselves or as an unexpected addition to a bouquet.
Everyone has their favorites and I enjoy creating bouquets of mixed colored tulips, sometimes choosing a collection of soft pastels and other times hot fiesta mixes. Tulips are also my favorite flower to give to someone as a gift. A beautifully wrapped bunch of tulips brings a smile to anyone’s face, male or female. Give tulips to someone you care about this spring, and you’ll see a smile too.
What’s your favorite tulip?