How to Arrange and Care for Tulips in a Vase

Published March 24, 2022
Smiling young woman standing and looking down at tulip bouquet

Spring is tulip time, and whether you grow them in your garden or happen across a bouquet of them in your local nursery, florist, or even grocery store, you might be tempted to put some together in a floral arrangement. Tulips can seem a little intimidating, with a reputation for getting droopy and fading quickly. But a few tried and true tips can keep your tulip arrangements looking their best.

How to Arrange Tulips in a Vase

The first step to arrange tulips in a vase for the longest-lasting and most attractive arrangement possible is to prepare the flowers and the vase properly.

  1. Fill the vase about one-third of the way full with cold, clean water.
  2. Trim the bottom of each tulip stem at a 45-degree angle, removing any whitish, dried bits of stem, since these can impede water absorption.
  3. Pull off any lower leaves that will fall below the water line, since these can rot and introduce bacteria, which will shorten the life of your tulip arrangement.
  4. Place the tulips in the vase, trimming and arranging as needed. Taller, narrower vases will hold the blooms upright, while wider vases will allow the flowers to bend and cascade a bit more.

What to Add to the Vase With the Tulips

Tulips are completely gorgeous all on their own, but if you'd like to mix it up a little, there are a few things that go really wonderfully with tulips in a vase. Consider any or all of these combinations, depending on which flowers you like the most.

Tulips and Irises

Bouquet of tulips and irises in the hands

There's something just so spring-like and lively about a bouquet of tulips and irises, especially if you can find them in contrasting colors such as purple and yellow. The more open, frilly form of the iris flowers complements cup-shaped tulip blossoms wonderfully.

Tulips and Statice

Bouquet of spring tulips flowers wrapped in gift paper

This is one of those arrangements in which a monochromatic color scheme (such as all purple or all white) would work beautifully, since the textures of these two flowers contrast so nicely. Plus, statice lasts a long time in a vase, so even once the tulip blossoms fade, you can still have a lovely, simple bouquet of just the statice flowers.

Tulips and Daffodils

Tulips and daffodils on a wooden table

These two popular spring flowers just seem to belong together. You can go with a very simple monochromatic arrangement, or go for a full riot of spring color, depending on your mood and taste.

Tulips and Hyacinths

Bunch of blue hyacinths and yellow tulips on white table

Hyacinths are another popular spring flower, and they smell amazing. The smaller flowers contrast nicely with the larger, simple form of tulip flowers, and hyacinths tend to be a bit shorter, allowing you to have varying heights in your arrangement.

Tulips and Roses

Girl in the coat holding a wicker basket of tender creamy color roses and violet tulips

For a truly romantic look, tulips and roses are the perfect combination. Consider soft pastels for a dreamy, relaxed look, or vibrant, bold colors for something even more eye-catching.

How to Care for a Vase of Tulips

Tulips usually last for a few days in a vase, but there are a few tricks to getting the most out of your tulip arrangement. It all starts with buying the freshest flowers possible, ideally still mostly closed (or cutting them from your own garden at this mostly-closed stage). Once you have your tulips, you'll want to do the following to keep them lasting as long as possible.

  • Keep tulips in a vase in a cool room. Heat makes the flowers fade more quickly, so if you have a fairly cool spot in your home, that's a great spot to keep your arrangement.
  • Change the water often. Tulips will fade even faster in dirty water. Change it every day or two, replacing the old water with fresh, cold water.
  • Trim the stems as needed. Tulips continue growing in the vase, which is part of why they get droopy (more on that later). To keep them looking their best and help them continue to take up plenty of water, trim about a quarter of an inch off of the base of the stems every couple of days.
  • Keep them out of bright sunlight. Tulips will try to grow toward the light, even if they're cut flowers in a vase. The heat of bright sunlight can also cause them to fade more quickly.

How Long Do Tulips Last in a Vase?

Tulips usually last for about five days in a vase. The amount of time they'll stay looking good depends on several factors, including how fresh the flowers are, how warm and dry your home is, and how often you're able to change the water in the vase. In general, expect about a week before your tulips completely fade. It's also worth noting that, if you're growing your own tulips, certain types of tulips are better for use in arrangements than others. For example, parrot tulips are stunning, and do very well in a vase.

Bunch of tulips in a vase on kitchen counter

How to Stop Tulips From Drooping

One of the most common complaints or frustrations about tulip arrangements is that the tulips tend to droop. The reason for this is actually interesting. Unlike most flowers, tulips actually continue growing, even after you've cut the stems from the plant. So they start drooping because the stems are actually getting longer, and the thinner, longer stems can't hold up the weight of the blossom.

There are a couple ways to make them look less droopy if it bothers you (though some people like the casual look of tulips in their natural, slightly droopy form!)

  • Trim the bases of the stems every day or two. This will keep them shorter, even as they keep growing.
  • Arrange your tulips in a tall, narrow container. Wider vessels provide more room for the tulips to droop, but if you have a more narrow vase, they'll stay more uniformly upright.
  • Keep the water fresh and cold. This helps the stems take up more water, which keeps them stronger and more able to support the flower.
  • Some people swear by adding sugar, pennies, bleach, or other items to the water, but this hasn't been proven to help in the least. Fresh, cold water is all you need.

A Touch of Spring in a Vase

Tulips are fleeting symbols of spring, but that shouldn't discourage you from adding a tulip arrangement or two to your home. If anything, the short period of time in which tulips are widely available should be celebrated. Bring a bit of spring into your home and enjoy the beauty of tulips both indoors and by planting tulips in your garden.

How to Arrange and Care for Tulips in a Vase