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My Love Affair With Tulips: Plus Tips And Tricks

April 04, 2017

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Tulips are my all time favorite flower.

Here are my best tips and tricks, from how to choose them, keep them looking their best and displaying them in your own home.

Tulip Tricks And Tips

So what's my favorite flower? Do you know?

Do you care?

Well, if you've been a fan of Exquisitely Unremarkable for any time at all, you know that I love tulips.

Simple, cheap, common - tulips.

My first post was inspired by a grocery store bouquet of red tulips, that same bunch eventually became my logo.

Red Tulips

My second piece was also about tulips.

It was the first bit of thrifty home decor I shared.

Orange Tulips

As a matter of fact, over the past four years, I have featured tulips too many times count.

I have crafted with them.

Tulip Rain Boot Front Door Decor

Front Door Spring Tulip Rain Boot DIY

How cute do they look in my old baby boot?

Galvanized Tub Flower Bucket

How To Label A Galvanized Tub Flower Bucket DIY

I've decorated with them.

Placing them in the breakfast nook...

Tulips On My Kitchen Table

Simplify Your Spring And Summer Decor

In the living room...

Tulips In My Living Room At Easter
Decorating with Tulips

And the bathroom...

Tulips In The Bathroom

Elegant Wooden Frame Wall Decor DIY

And always, alway in the kitchen. 

Tulips On The Kitchen Counter

Red And White Country Kitchen Decor

Tulips On My Desk

Cottage Style Kitchen Desk Decor Ideas

They've represented my mood.

The morning when I found out my website had been hacked 

Wilted Red Tulips On Table

 Such empathic buds!

Later that afternoon when there was hope it'd be fixed...I kid you not.

Red Tulips

I've even I received them as gifts.

An amazingly sweet gift from my amazingly sweet friend, Rue

Rainbow Tulips In White Pitcher

 Special delivery!

They're best anniversary present ever from a guy who knows how to do it right.

How Do You Measure Love Story

Why I Love Tulips

And while I believe that I've shared bits and pieces of my tulip past, I don't think I have ever told the full story of how and why I fell in love with them.

You see, it was not a love at first sight kind of tale.

As a matter of fact, when I was younger, roses were my blooms of choice.

Disney princesses had roses. Movie stars had them in their dressing rooms.

My dad gave them to my mom on special occasions.

Roses were it.

I used to make perfume from them as a kid and I literally swooned whenever I received one...a dance corsage, an award banquet token.

A few times in my young life, I was lucky enough to receive a dozen of them and they were always breathtaking.

Of course none more than the first Christmas my husband and I were dating.

My characteristically unromantic buddy of many years presented me with a dozen long stem white roses, in a box, wrapped up with the biggest red ribbon I had ever seen.

He took my breath away with those roses.


Back then, tulips were just those flowers I hardly noticed in my yard, coming up between the daffodils and my grandmother's irises. No one planted them on purpose.

No one tended to them.

They just popped up every spring, bloomed and then died, whether we took notice or not.

Like weeds. In my mind anyway.

My young, stupid mind.

I believe that the tide began to turn in their favor at my wedding.

How elegant, yet understated, they stood on the table. Gently draping over the side of the fishbowl, their presence gracefully accented, not overwhelmed.

At the end of the night, we brought a vase or two home and put them on the coffee and kitchen tables.

A week later, when we returned from our honeymoon, my rose filled bridal bouquet was a wilted mess...oh, but not the tulips.

They welcomed us back looking as fresh and fabulous as they did they day of the wedding.


And I began to take notice.

Pretty soon the apartment started to shrink and I wanted a home and then a dishwasher and then a baby.

Roses were budget busters...but tulips? Tulips were cheap. I could have my weekly flower fix and a baby.

Score another round for tulips.

Decorating With Tulips Tricks and Tips

Then one day, I was diagnosed with allergies.

Sniffling, sneezing and wheezing. It was terrible and flowers were suddenly a giant no.

My eyes watered as soon as I ventured near them. It was so bad that when I delivered my first child, they put me in a private room, because I could not be near flowers of any kind.

Except for tulips.

For some reason, they didn't bother me at all.

Turns out, the scientific reason is because they have a very heavy, waxy type of pollen that doesn't travel very far. It's too large to be an irritant. They also do not generally have a scent, another allergy trigger.

Of course, you can't explain true love with science.

Without tulips, I would have a flowerless...or worse...a faux flower-filled...existence.

No. That would not do. It was tulips to the rescue.

And what girl can resist a superhero?

So for years now, it's just been me and tulips.

We meet in the grocery store on Fridays.

It's our place.

Man, I'm a cheap date.

But you already knew that.

Red Tulips

Hey! Before you go I want to share a few things I have learned about tulips over the years.

I am by no means a master gardener, in fact, my husband frequently refers to me as a plant murderer. The only reason I do so well with cut tulips is because, well, they've been cut.

So take what I'm sharing here with a grain of salt, but these have been my experiences over the last 20+ years.

(BTW- I shared some of these tips back in 2013, but only like three people read them, so I think it's safe to repeat them. 😉)

Tulips Tips and Tricks To Make Them Last and more...

Tulips Tips, Tricks and Funny Facts

*1. Lighter colors last longer than dark ones 

Yup, red is my favorite, but they drop their petals faster than white or yellow, so if you have choice and are looking for longevity, go light.

*2. Cut tulips continue to grow once you put them in water

So pick the smallest, tightest bunch you can find. They'll open up quickly and you'll get more time out of them.

You may even need to snip the bottom midweek if they start to get too tall.

*3. Cut about 1/2-3/4 of an inch off your tulip stems, on a diagonal, before you place them in water 

They will drink a ton, so check the level daily and refill often.

If you flowers wilt, just give them a drink, they'll pop right back up.

*4. Tulips will take the shape of whatever container you put them in

If you want a tall bunch standing at attention, pick a tall vase with a small opening to support them.

If you want a casual bunch, pick a bucket or a favorites. The tulips will conform.

You can give them a little help, by gently guiding them a day or two after you bring them home and they're more comfortable.

*5. Let them breathe

No matter what kind of vase you choose, just make sure it's not too tight.

Their stems are gentle and will break if jammed in too snugly.

*6. I have tried both the penny trick and the toothpick trick without much luck

I find that talking to my flowers and making sure they have enough water is the best way to keep them happy.

This works well with children too...😉
Kim Signature

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  1. this is a wonderful post!
    i too love tulips. and i also suffer from scent related allergies.
    all strong smelling flowers and perfumes and especially scented candles. (they're the worst for me!) but tulips i can always enjoy! i never knew about their pollen. thank you!
    all things that most ladies love having around i simply cannot if i want to breathe and see!
    tulips i can have and adore. xo

    1. Thanks Tammy!! Yes, anything with a scent bothers me, too. It does take away a lot of pretties that others can enjoy, but not my tulips! ;)

  2. All your tulip pics are so beautiful. I rarely have cut flowers in the house. I should change that. Maybe I need my own date at the grocery store. I learned some new things tonight. Lots of good tips.

    1. You should grow some zinnias in your greenhouse. They are lovely when cut and they grow like weeds, too! :) Glad you liked the tips! :)

  3. Kim, I almost skipped this one, thought I had already read it, but glad I stuck it out and learned a whole bunch of new stuff. For a big part of my life, lilacs were my favorite flower. I had a big bush at our old house and took a transplant of it to here. It is now a large bush and I was so happy when it bloomed, but the last couple of years the beautiful smell has been too much so guess I will have to enjoy it outside only and come up with a new favorite. I think that might be tulips! A good thing I already have a tulip pitcher or I would be suckered again. My burlap banner came but I haven't done anything with it yet. Have a great week, my friend..xxoJudy

    1. Lilacs are so lovely, Judy, I agree, but yes their scent is powerful and I can't take it. Enjoy your banner, I can't wait to see what you come up with! :)

  4. I think your love for tulips is very sweet, Kim...I love them, too, and look forward to spring mostly because of the beauty I have in my garden.

    Thanks for the tips...the talking to them is a novel idea. Didn't always help with my kids but didn't hurt either!

    Jane x

    1. And even better, Jane, they don't talk back!! Ha! ;)

  5. What a fun,delightful posting. Your tulips are amazing but not as amazing as your thoughtful husband. Thx for sharing and all of the great tips! Good info, I learned something new today!

    1. Thanks so much, Michelle! I am glad you enjoyed the tips...and yes, I agree he is a thoughtful guy! :) Thanks for the visit!

  6. Another cute post from you Kim! Always enjoy your blog! I've had tulips from the store once. I wasn't expecting much, but they were lovely & lasted a long time. We enjoyed them so much! I took notice!

    1. They really do last, Florence, worth the splurge! :)

  7. I was just thinking today that I would like to go buy some pretty spring flowers to place in mason jars in the kitchen window...I will be sure to look for tulips! I also love irises, but they are pretty fussy, and you can't beat a sweet little bunch of daffodils at Trader Joe's...

    1. Oh the mason jar is a perfect container and yes, I just saw the daffodils for like two bucks a bunch. Awesome!! :)

  8. Thanks for the tulip tips . . .
    I like that they have a bit of "forever" in them . . .
    Seems like they are at their end,
    I take them out, put them in a different container, fresh water
    and they seem to spruce up, last for a few more days.
    Tulips hop in my grocery cart too . . . each week . . .
    Instant cheer . . .

    1. Instant cheer is right, Lynne! And thank you for sharing your picks with me. Very cheery indeed! :)

  9. Every time I see tulips I think if you, Kim. I love tulips, too, but the deer like to snack on them so I can't grow any here until I get an area where I can put fencing around them. To buy them in the store here is not cheap. (Nothing in the store is cheap here. . .we're just that remote). Thanks for the tips on cutting and keeping them. Hugs, Nancy

    1. It’s so funny how things can be so different on different ends of this country, isn’t it, Nancy? Even in my town, they are cheap at one store and super pricey at the next. Can you guess where I shop? ;)

  10. Tulips are my sister in laws favorite too, and the flowers we all carried in their wedding.

    I love the way they last and look so pretty in any kind of container!

    1. I had the on the tables at my wedding. I really should've carried them, too... ;)

  11. You're the tulip whisperer! This is the truth - I never had even noticed tulips until a cool day in 1987 when I had an appointment for bridal portraits. We neglected to realize that I'd need the bouquet at that point! My mom and I bought tulips at the grocery and tied a ribbon around them. In the winter and spring, I always reminisce about that. :)

    My favorite depends on what time of year you ask me!! In the summer it's geraniums...or roses. :)

  12. Lovely, lovely post! I love them in the spring which is the only time we can find them in stores here. I love white tulips which, of course, are hard to find. lol
    Great tips, too. Similar to roses in care- with water changing and resnipping as necessary.
    Have a wonderful tulipy day- xo Diana

    1. I can usually find them in the grocery stores around here from December to late May. After that, they disappear and I am generally flowerless. White are my favorite, too, Diana. :)

  13. You did mention that tulips are good for allergies to me recently and I already forgot! This is perfect timing, again, because I really want something pretty in the house and I know I can easily get some at the grocery store.....because the ones in my garden, all 35 of them, have refused to bloom the last 3 years!! Any tips for that?!

    1. Oh no! Non-blooming tulips? Well, that's no good. I have a few in my yard, but I did not plant them. I am happy to see them when they come up though. Still waiting this year... ;)

  14. This is just a sweet post that made me smile. I have a love of all flowers I think, but tulips just always make me smile. Snow forecasted here with 50mph winds, so tulips outside are out of the question. Grins, for making me smile, Sandi---did I say it agin, YEP!

    1. Well that's a lot of smiles...I guess my work is done!! ;) Take care in that snow. Brrr...

  15. Hi Kim, Love this post and all the ways you have displayed tulips and the story behind how they came to be your favorite. Beautiful and anytime I see tulips anywhere I think of you!!

    1. Thanks so much, Celestina Marie. I do love those silly flowers. After all, it's the simple things, right? ;)

  16. I love the photos of your tulips. While tulips are not my most favorite flower, they are up there in the top 5. I prefer the pale colors because they look so frail and elegant. You just can't go wrong with a beautiful tulip!! Love and hugs sweet friend!

    1. Hello Benita!! I agree with you my friend, pale colors are just super sweet. They are my favorite in spring!

  17. I learned a lot from this post! Thanks for sharing all the tulip tips. I love tulips too. Did I ever tell you that my hubby made a stained glass window above our front door? It's got several tulips in it and his inspiration was a picture my sister in law took of a field of tulips when they lived in Oregon. :) I'm bummed that I can't really have real flowers around because Holly will not leave them alone. The only safe place for flowers is on top of the fridge (where she can't get to...yet) and I can't really enjoy them up there. Oh well. I'll just have to enjoy yours for now. :)

    1. I think you have mentioned the stained glass window. It sounds amazing. He made it?? Did you do a post? I must see this creation!! :) And yes, one of my kitties used to eat the heads off the tulips. I miss his sweet furry face, but now I don’t have headless flowers anymore! ;)

  18. I enjoyed reading your story about why for you it is always tulips. I too love them. I only buy them about once per year. I do recall that post with the drooping tulips!

    1. Oh Brenda, those drooping tulips. What a mistake that move was. I am glad to be back and I remember your kindness during that crazy website hacking mess. Thank you!! :)

  19. Oh, my sweet friend, your posts never fail to bring a smile to my face! There is nothing but rain outside my window, but I'm smiling at the joyful spring sunshine you just brought into this dismal day! I also love tulips but sadly my local market has the WORST cut flowers ever....when they have any at all!

    1. That stinks, Debbie. The grocery store is my solace...but I know you have the greenest thumb, so once your snow melts, there will be blooms everywhere!! :)

  20. A lovely post, so many great photographs ... your tulip pics are just so beautiful.
    I have learned and picked up some good tips.
    Thank you

    All the best Jan

    1. Thanks Jan! I am glad you enjoyed the post today! :)

  21. Oh those gorgeous tulips! What great tips also. Your post makes my heart sing!

  22. I've always been a tried-and-true tulip girl. I just wish you could get them all year long. Oh...I've tried the penny trick too. It never works for me.

    1. I wish I could get them all year long, too. June to December are bleak flower months at my house! ;)

  23. I just love tulips. I wish they were around all year long. Wonderful post! Have a great weekend. Maria

    1. Me too, Maria!! Wouldn't that be lovely? ;)

  24. Hello,
    You did great with your tulip tips! ;-)
    I enjoyed reading your love affair with tulips. Today is Friday, what color did you purchase today?
    Happy Easter,

    1. Can you believe that my tulips from last week are still blooming strong? But I did go and buy some for my mom today. It is her 86th birthday and while there is not much she is able to do or eat at the nursing home, she loves a bouquet of pretty. I actually bought her the pink ones I featured here. I believe they are called Angelique, but you'd know better than I. They are full with lots of layers of petals and bright pink. I think she liked them! :) Thanks for asking Carla!

  25. It's funny how your tastes change as you get older, isn't it, Teri? I hope you had a lovely errand day, flowers or not! :)

  26. I'm going to go out and buy some tulips! Thanks, Kim!

  27. Well you just gave me a good chuckle there Kim. Talking to them, and why not we talk to everything else. Lots of great tips here and I really enjoyed the story of how you came to love them. They are your trademark after all.

  28. I love the fact that I surprised you that day ;)

    Funny.... roses were my favorite too when I was younger. I loved hearing your tulip story. I think that the springtime flowers are best, especially daisies ;)


    1. It was a wonderful surprise, Rue, the perfect present. I was truly floored and those gorgeous flowers lasted a really long time. And on my blog…forever! xoxo

  29. Kim, I read this the other day on my phone and failed to come here and comment but had to now because I truly loved this post, a mixture of pean to the tulip and helpful hints. I didn't know to choose them small and tight, or that paler colors lasted longer or most amazing of all that they continued to grow. I was ready to buy some at my local Publix, but no tulips. So disappointed. Only those big bunches of a conglomeration of different colors and flowers. I will wait until we go to Trader Joe's next and try them, tight little pale bunches. Or maybe my favorite, which is dark purple, even if they leave me more quickly. Some things are just worth it, like your red!

    1. I am so happy that you found a few of my tips and tulip secrets helpful, Dewena. I always figure that people just know what I know. I hope that you were able to find some pretty dark purple blooms. I am always disappointed when the tulips bins are empty and like you, I am not a fan of the conglomeration bunches. They are a quick ticket to an allergy attack for me. ;) I also agree that yes, sometimes, those beautiful red buds do not last as long, but while they are here they are glorious!