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.


BeachysCapeCodCupboard said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing that info! I don't think I've ever had a tulip in my home that hadn't gone "bendy"! I always felt as though I had done something wrong to it, or it had been damaged on its way to my home.

Liz said...

Shall be trying that next time, but why do the supermarkets sell such uninspiring specimens, when there are such beauties around? And not just tulips, eveything...especially those artificially dyed ones?i

weirdbunny said...

I'm thrilled that you've been selling so well. However bad news about the deer ! It finally started raining yesterday, and it's still raining today. My garden is now so much happier, and it's a rest from the watering for me - love Julia x

Jane said...

Beachy -I think that many people feel that it is their fault when lilies don't open, roses droop or tulips go bendy. A bit of simple advice from a florist could prevent or solve all these problems.

Liz - I think that the supermarkets are very hidebound by having to get a standard product at a very cheap price onto their shelves - as they have to have long shelf life as their top quality they tend to be the type of flowers that don't develop in the vase and don't have much of a scent.

I don't know whether Dutch supermarkets manage to stock more inspiring flowers.

Julia - thanks. We have had rain here as well - I don't water anything other than newly planted things so this is the first water that most ground has had in a few weeks. The chickweed has taken advantage and germinated all over the beds!

Hopefully there will also be some self sown poppies and love in a mist in the mixture.


Marie said...

Well this is a coincidence! I have often wondered what to do about tulips bending and have even been put off buying them because I know that they will droop. Thanks Jane.

Marie x

Alison said...

Thanks for more bendy stems for me.
Alison x

Gigibird said...

How interesting;)
My tulips seem to suffer with the 'bends' so I shall now be able to rectify - thank you;-)

Victoria May Plum said...

Thanks Jane, You are an angel. I always have this problem, and it has put me off buying them before.
Victoria x

a pink-bee said...

Thank-you, so much for this info it is very helpful:)YEAh -no more bendy tulips!!!