Why do tulips droop?

Tulips are one of the nations favourite flowers and with so many varieties and colours to choose from we are spoilt for choice. Tulips signal the imminent arrival of spring and are one of the most popular cut flowers this time of year to be popped in a vase to brighten up the home. But why do they have a tendency to do a 'nose dive' and how can this be stopped?

Tulip stems continue to grow once they are cut and can grow well over an inch when you have popped them into a vase. The cells in the stems of tulips are particularly responsive to the plant hormone auxin (my Applied Biology degree is now coming back to me!) which causes the cells to elongate hence the continued growth of the stem. Auxin also influences a phototrophic response meaning they will grow towards the light. In their search for light, tulips can bend, so by turning the vase everyday this can help keep the tulips upright or by positioning them directly under a natural light source.

Re-cutting the stems by at least inch may also help prevent the tulips bending quite so much and another common practice it to keep the tulips in the wrap (for 1-2 hours) they were sold in to provide support while they drink up the water in the vase, helping to rehydrate themselves and strengthen the stems early on. I've also heard of putting a penny at the bottom on the vase or placing a pin through the stem just below the tulip head, but I'm not sure how successful these are.

I think the charm of tulips though is the way they continue to grow, unpredictably change shape and form and in many cases change colour quite significantly from when they were first a tight flower bud. So to me the 'nose dive' is just what tulips do and I still love them for it, straight or bendy!

What's your favourite tulip?

For more floral inspiration www.podandpip.co.uk

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 Pod & Pip
Ebble House, Stratford Tony, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP54AT



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