These bulb-flower faves
often challenge designers and intrigue customers with their “do what
they want” personality.
Tulips, botanically known as Tulipa (TOO-li-pa), are members of the
Liliaceae (lily) family. Close flower relatives include lilies,
lilies-of-the-valley, Gloriosas, hyacinths, grape hyacinths and
Tulips are classified into 15 divisions; among the most commonly
cultivated as cut flowers are single, double (peony flowered),
parrot (ruffled and multicolored), lily flowered (pointed petals)
and fringed (serrated petal edges).
not just spring
Although cut tulips are most abundant from about December through
May, they can be found year-round today, due, in part, to “ice
tulip” technology (bulbs are held in sustained cold to delay forcing
and extend their availability).
buy the way.
For maximum vase life, purchase most cut tulips when they are in
tight bud form and flower color is just visible; however, some
varieties, including ‘Monte Carlo’, ‘Kees Nelis’ and ‘Cassini’,
should be harvested and purchased at a more mature stage. Look for
firm, straight stems and firm, green foliage, with no
Unpack tulips immediately upon their arrival in your shop, and check
the flower quality. Remove any bindings from the stems, but leave
the flowers in their sleeves. Then remove lower leaves, and rinse
stems to wash away dirt and debris.
ready to drink.
Recut the stems with a sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of
stem, to eliminate desiccated (dried-out) ends as well as any dirt,
debris and microbes that might have accumulated there. Be sure to
cut off the entire white portion of the stem ends.
the scoop on flower
Immediately after cutting the stems, place them into containers with
4 to 6 inches of bulb-flower-food solution prepared with cold,
nonfluoridated water. Cold water will reduce the chance that flowers
will “blow open.”
Bulb-flower foods contain—in addition to the
ingredients in standard flower foods—“replacement” hormones to help
correct imbalances that occur when the flowers are cut from their
bulbs. They also have a lower concentration of sugar, which can
aggravate leaf yellowing.
Some varieties of tulips do not benefit from the
nutrients in flower food, but it should always be used to limit the
growth of stem-plugging microbes (bacteria) in the water.
Once tulips are processed, place them immediately into a floral
cooler at 33 F to 35 F and 85 percent to 90 percent relative
humidity, and allow them to hydrate for at least two hours before
selling or arranging them.
Tulips are geotropic (affected by gravity) and phototropic (curve
toward the light), so store them upright in their containers and in
a dark area of the cooler where they’re shielded from the light
(unless the light source is directly above the flowers). Some flower
care experts recommend leaving tulips in their sleeves during
storage to help prevent the stems from curving.
Avoid placing tulips into storage containers with any species of
Narcissi (daffodils, jonquils, paper-whites, etc.) because, when
cut, Narcissi exude a mucilage that adversely affects the vase life
of tulips. These flowers can be mixed in arrangements only after
both have been conditioned separately.
facts of life.
Depending on variety, care and stage of maturity at harvest, cut
tulips should last from three to six days at the consumer level.
Sell these flowers within two days.
no issue with gas.
Most varieties of tulips are not sensitive to ethylene gas although
some, like ‘Apeldoorn’, are. Regardless, research shows that
anti-ethylene products will not increase the vase life of tulips.
Tulips can be a challenge to arrange not only because of their
geotropic and phototropic natures but also because their stems (scapes)
often elongate an inch or more after they’re arranged. This
phenomenon can be reduced by using a flower food that contains
elongation inhibitors. Wiring the flowers will not help and is not
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