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Tulips in the Vase


If you’ve noticed that your cut tulips look like they’re in a different position, or even taller, than they were the day before, you’re not having visions. It’s true: tulips writhe and wriggle and, I swear, even grow in the vase.If this bothers you, you can rearrange them periodically (you may need to cut off some stems). Or, you can make the original arrangement loose enough to accommodate tulip wanderings. Or you can just learn to enjoy the new shapes the tulips make in your (or their) bouquet. It’s one of nature’s little ways of reminding us that we’re not in control. You could even choose tulips to celebrate wrigglability: “Fantasy”, an heirloom parrot tulip, twists itself into arabesques in the garden and is especially active in the vase. “Queen of the Night” also has a pretty high wriggle factor.

Tulips in the vase open wide during the day and close up at night, just as they do in the garden. (Some of you may be thinking, “Duh.” But I’ve had several people remark on my wide-open daytime tulips. So I know not everybody knows this.) It’s kind of like getting two or three bouquets for the price of one, if you allow a little space in the arrangement for this. Always allow space for maximum beauty.

Tulips, like most bulbs, like cold water in their vases (most other flowers like their water a little warmed up). The best way to keep your tulips (and other flowers) going is to put them in a cool place in your house. Unfortunately, the coolest places are usually the ones with no light; this may be one of the few instances where you can consider yourself lucky if you have a leaky window letting in cold air and letting out precious costly heat.

Another thing to consider about tulips (and the narcissi, hyacinths, or other flowers you put in with them) is whether they are fragrant. (Yes, some varieties of tulips are fragrant-I’ll get into that in another post.) This determines where you place them, because sweet, heady smells, while lovely in a bedroom, entryway, or living room, are a little weird on the table. Sweet perfume and food just don’t go together.

Speaking of tulips with other flowers: right now I have a vase of Lady Jane and Silverado tulips with white Thalia narcissus. Usually, though, I tend to stick to a single variety of tulip in a vase-this allows me to get a closeup look at all the beautiful variations in one type of tulip, and to see their lives from beginning to end.

Because I like to keep my tulips in the vase to the very end, when they shatter. I enjoy seeing them twist, sprawl, and turn into crepe paper; there’s a sort of beauty in their death throes. And as I get older, too, it’s good to remember there’s beauty to every stage in life: it just changes form.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Barbee' May 28, 2008, 8:26 am

    Lovely writing!

  • John Dkar February 2, 2016, 9:21 pm

    great info..yeah I was worried about my vision…I thought it was playing tricks in my mind…I noticed that “wiggle wiggle ” with my tulip plants…they bend ,,left…right..n I guess like they rotate…open and close their petals…”freaked me out” …but now I know..(I live in Chengdu China and the days in winter are dark,grey,cloudy…rarely sunny)…I have also read that “Tulip flowers open and close in response to heat and light. When tulip petals fold in at night, or on a rainy day, the pollen stays dry and reproductive parts are protected. When they open the next morning, the pollen is ready to attach to the bodies of hungry insects.”(learner org )…thanks for your info…it is highly valuable…I usually grow flowers ;0)..luv them

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