Monday, April 23, 2007
Tulips - how to stop them going bendy
One of the questions I get asked again and again is how to stop tulips going bendy in the vase. So here we go!
The bendiness is caused by 2 different things. A bendy stem is usually caused by an airlock in the stem, preventing the water from going right the way up. A bending over head is usually due to the tulip continuing to grow after it has been cut which along with the increasing weight of the head, leads it to bend over.
To cure the air lock - take your tulips, make sure the stems are bendy and lay them side by side, all heads level, on a piece of brown paper - them roll it into a tight straight parcel and bind it well with string - see photo.
Put the kettle on and pour an inch of boiling water into a mug, cut 1/2 and inch off the bottom of the stems and put them at a slight angle into the mug. You should see an air bubble come out of the bottom of the stem. Put them immediately into a vase of tepid water and wait 2 hours before unwrapping - they should be set in a straight position. This can be done both with tulips just bought and ones that have done that croquet hoop thing in the vase.
If you want to cure the twisting stem of the growing tulip (and I must say I like the elegant writhing of the parrot tulips) you can destroy the growing plate of the flower by repeatedly inserting a needle in and out of the stem, just below the flower. Seemingly people used to be employed just to do this in stately homes. The tendency of tulips to continue growing means that they didn't work well in the very ordered symmetrical arrangements of the C19th as within a couple of days they would be poking out an inch above the rest of the flowers.