Cut tulips can stay fresh for a week or longer if prepared properly before they are added to a vase, then given plenty of fresh water once they are in the vase. The tulips will continue to grow after they're cut, stretching toward the light--something to keep in mind when deciding where to place your arrangement. The growth and movement of tulips after they are cut--added to their many vivid colors--makes fresh tulips a favorite of flower lovers.
Unwrap the tulips, reserving the paper they are wrapped in.
Cut 1/2 inch to 1 inch off the bottom of each tulip stem by cutting through it diagonally. Remove any white part on the bottom of the stem.
Remove leaves below the water.
Wrap the tulips as a bunch so that the paper forms a cone with the wide part at the top and the narrow part exposing several inches of the stems.
Arrange the paper so that the tulips stand straight.
Fill a vase partially with water so that when the re-wrapped bouquet stands in the water, the paper will not be in the liquid. If there is still foliage beneath the paper that will end up in the water, cut if off.
Stand the wrapped tulips in the vase for a couple hours.
Remove the flowers from the water and, again using a diagonal cut, trim the stems so the tulips are the height you want for your arrangement.
Dump the water in the vase and add fresh water.
Add commercial floral preservative to the vase according to the preservative's directions.
Add the tulips.
Put the vase and flowers in a location where it is sheltered from direct sun and from both cool and hot drafts.
Add water every day up to the original water level line.
Trim the stems again every two or three days.