Arranging Tulips


I’m in the process of getting my house ready for a spring home tour on Friday. Fresh flowers are something I always like to have in my home, but they’re especially nice when snapping pictures for a tour.

A couple weeks ago I was at my mom’s home for dinner and noticed she had some tulips in a vase. While the tulips were lovely, unfortunately the way they were displayed didn’t enhance their beauty. I gently mentioned this to my mom, and she agreed, saying, “Your flowers always look so nice; you’ll have to show me what to do.” A lightbulb went off in my head.

After I quit my hotel job in Philadelphia, it was five months before I moved back home to buy the B&B. During that gap, I worked at a flower shop to keep my bills paid. While I wasn’t responsible for creating arrangements, I did pick up a few helpful tips for working with flowers.

Sometimes when you know something, you presume everyone else knows it too. However, in that lightbulb moment at Mom’s, I realized my assumption might not be accurate. Maybe it would be helpful to share how I go about arranging flowers.

A few disclaimers before we get going: I have no formal training in floral arrangement, and I don’t pretend to be an expert. What I’m going to show you may be painfully basic for some of you, and some of you may not like my process. However, I figured I’d share how I display my store-bought flowers in case some folks might find it useful. Today, I’ll focus on tulips; I’ll share ideas for a few other flowers in the coming days / weeks.

Now we’re ready to start First things first, pick up some tulips. As you know, I don’t have a lot of retail options around here, so I found these at Walmart. They were $5 for 7 stems. I look for tulips that have flower heads that are closed and still pretty tight. It’s tempting to go for the ones that are open and beautiful, but they won’t last as long.

Arranging Tulips | Inspired by Charm

Once I get the tulips home, I work pretty quickly to ensure they aren’t out of water for very long. The first thing I do is remove almost all of the leaves. I usually keep one leaf on or maybe two. The leaves are very easily removed. Just pull them down the stem with your hand.

Arranging Tulips | Inspired by Charm

Removing most of the leaves gives the tulips some breathing room in the vase and keeps things from looking cluttered. Also, with most flowers, you don’t want leaves in the water. They tend to rot pretty quickly, making the water look gross and decreasing the life of your flowers.

Arranging Tulips | Inspired by Charm

Next, I add some water to a vase. Lately, I’ve been using vintage mason jars for vases. The half pint mason jars are the perfect size for seven tulips. However, feel free to use what you have and like. By the way, when working with flowers, stick with an odd number when you have fewer than twelve stems. With more than twelve stems, it really doesn’t matter if you use an odd or even number.

Arranging Tulips | Inspired by Charm

With your vase ready, cut the stems. I like to keep the stem length about 1.75 times the height of the vase. This means that the stem and flower sticking out of the vase should be about 3/4 as tall as the vase.

I also like to cut the stem on the diagonal. I’m not sure if this makes a huge difference. I just think it looks nice so that’s what I do.

I cut each stem individually and vary the length of each stem slightly. Remember, always go a little longer if you’re not sure. You can always cut off more later if necessary.

I ended up pulling off a few more leaves as I put the stems in the vase because it was feeling a bit crowded. Move the flowers around and trim off a little more of the stem until your arrangement is looking the way you want.

Arranging Tulips | Inspired by Charm

That’s it!

I like to change the water every 3 or 4 days to help the flowers last as long as possible.

Arranging Tulips | Inspired by Charm

Again, I know this is basic information, but I hope it helped. Of course, you can create more complex arrangements with different flowers, but sometimes a simple arrangement makes a dramatic statement.

If you liked this quick tutorial, stay tuned for more.

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links as part of the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that receives a small commission by linking to and other sites at no cost to the readers.

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  • Beverly at

    Great tips! I’m looking forward to more of your posts on floral ideas!

  • Elizabeth Reed at

    Great tips thank you so much.

  • Jean at

    Another good tip….If your tulips start to droop, put a penny or two in the vase. The copper in the penny will return the tulips to an upright position (in a few hours).

  • Whitney at

    Thanks for this post! I am a floral designer and happy you shared these great tips. Others beat me to it on why to cut on a diagonally. Another fun fact about tulips–they keep growing in the vase! If you look at your arrangement in a few days and it looks like the flowers have sprawled out, that is why. It is particularly true for long stemmed tulips that are sometimes arranged in large urns. (We sometimes make arrangements like that with big arching stems at large events.) I’m looking forward to more posts about plants!

  • Crystle at

    Thank you for the beautiful blog entry! Hey so you said in your blog that you like to cut the flowers on an angle and your not sure if it makes a difference. Well just to let you know the answer is yes it does. Flowers are meant to be cut on an angle because something about the way they absorb their water & plant food. Cutting them straight across makes it difficult for them to take in their water and nutrients. When they are cut on angle it allows them to absorb it better πŸ™‚ just wanted to share and help…hope you have a good day!
    Thank you!

  • Sarah O. at

    I was going to comment on the purpose of the angled stems, but it looks like someone beat me to it! I just bought a couple bouquets of tulips at Walmart, so your post was perfect timing. Thanks for the tips! πŸ™‚

  • DBLori at

    I don’t know much about flower arranging, but there is a reason for the angled cut (of the stem). Cutting the stems at this angle, rather than straight across, allows for greater surface area and a corresponding increased water uptake. Without adequate water uptake through the stems, the cut flowers in the arrangement can lose their rigidity and droop or drop their petals prematurely. πŸ˜‰

    • Michael Wurm, Jr. at

      Well there you go! πŸ™‚ Haha! Thanks so much for filling me in. You learn something new every day.

      xo Michael

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