Whether you are planting or cutting tulips, these tips gathered from gardeners and designers featured in Flower will help you get the best results.

cutting tulips

Photo: Sheila Sund via Flickr

Tips for Growing Tulips

  1. Plant tulips when temperatures average 60 degrees or lower. (This could be September in the North and December in the South.)
  2. Check with your local cooperative extension service to see if you need to pre-chill your bulbs prior to planting. If you pre-chill bulbs in the refrigerator, keep them away from vegetables, because they release a gas that can keep bulbs from flowering.
  3. Bulbs like soil with a pH of 6 to 6.5. Have a soil test performed prior to planting in case you need to add lime or aluminum sulfate.
  4. Be sure to plant in a sunny area with well-drained soil. Tulip bulbs rot in standing water.
  5. Plant large bulbs a little deeper than recommended to ensure strong stalks.
  6. Fertilize in fall and early spring with a bulb fertilizer to ensure stronger bulbs and a slightly longer bloom time.
  7. Water your bulbs after planting. You should not have to water them again unless you live in a naturally dry area.
cutting tulips

Remove unwanted tulip leaves by gently pulling them back and peeling them away from the stem.

Tips for Cutting and Arranging Tulips

  1. Cut the flowers to bring in your home just before the bud fully blooms.
  2. When cutting or purchasing cut tulips, wrap the stems in wet paper towels to keep them from drying before you get them home.
  3. Cut each tulip stem at an angle with a sharp knife or floral snips. This will make the tulips last longer and make them easier to insert into the arrangement.
  4. Remove unwanted leaves by gently pulling them back and peeling them away from the stem.
  5. In case you have a droopy tulip, you can wire it around the stem from top to bottom to hold it upright.
  6. To keep tulip petals from opening up any further, take a straight pin and prick each tulip through the stem just beneath its bloom.
  7. For more open tulips, try this: “An insider trick I picked up is to manually open up tulips,” says New York event designer Mimi Brown. “Gently flip back the outer petals; this can be just a smidge, or it can be pulled way back. (If a petal splits, don’t worry.) Doing this can dramatically change the look of the flower.”
  8. Experiment with letting tulips open fully for a dramatic look. California-based floral designer Lauryl Lane says, “I love letting them pop like that. Of course they don’t last very long after they’ve fully opened, but if you time it just right, they are stunning in event arrangements.”
Mimi Brown gently opens a tulip manually

Mimi Brown gently opens a reflex tulip (see tip 7). Photo by Becky Luigart-Stayner

Purple flower arrangement

Fully open tulips make a statement (see tip 8). Arrangement and photo by Lauryl Lane

More Tulips and Spring Arrangements

  • Learn all about tulips and how to make beautiful tulip arrangements from tastemakers in the floral, event, garden and interiors world.
  • Tulipomania and how history’s wildly coveted tulip found its way to today’s gardens.
  • Our Favorite Tulip Arrangements – This collection inspires with cheerful bunches of single-color tulips, glorious combinations of tulips and other spring blossoms and fantastic centerpieces.
  • For the Love of Narcissus – These blooms are a favorite harbinger of spring and, with their cheerful faces, become total show-offs.