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😡😰😖 Prune your tulips to encourage them to regrow, or trim them for your vase. Simply use garden shears to cut your tulip flower at the base of the stem. Do this after your tulips fade in color or whenever you want to put them in a vase. Tulips can last in a vase for 3-7 days if cared for properly. You can easily trim your tulips to make a beautiful centerpiece or prepare them for next season!


Method 1
Method 1 of 2:
Pruning for Regrowth

  1. 1
    Wait until your tulips begin to fade. Once your tulips blossom and the flowers start to fade, the flowers become wilted and look unattractive. Typically, tulips begin to fade in May or June.[1]
    • The exact month your flowers start to fade will vary based on your location and climate.

    😡😰😖 Maggie Moran

    Home & Garden Specialist
    Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania.
    Maggie Moran
    Home & Garden Specialist

    😡😰😖 Did You Know? There’s no need to prune tulips while they’re in bloom. You deadhead tulip blooms from the stem after the flower is spent, leaving 6–8 inches (15–20 cm) of stem showing above the soil.

  2. 2
    Prune off the heads of your tulips using gardening shears. After your tulips fade, trim your tulip plants to encourage them to grow back next year. Snip the head of the tulip using either a pair of garden shears or a sharp pair of scissors.[2]
    • Do this after the blooms are faded.
  3. 3
    Avoid removing the tulip leaves when you’re pruning. "Deadheading" is the process of taking off the bloom of the flower. When you do this, you want to preserve the leaves and foliage of the tulip plant. Only snip away the head of the flower, rather than the green leaves. Keeping the leaves intact helps the flower continue its growth cycle, and they look attractive.[3]
    • The tulip plant has attractive green leaves that look great throughout the summer.
  4. 4
    Remove the leaves about 6 weeks after flowering. About 6 weeks after your tulips bloom, your plant may turn yellow or brown at the ends. When this happens, you can trim the leaves. Either trim off only the brownish sections or cut the leaves at the base of the stem, based on personal preference. This encourages the plant to grow back next year.[4]
    • If you'd like, trim the leaves completely off leaving just the stems intact. The stems may shrink or wilt as winter strikes, but this way the plant will resurface in the spring.
    • You can use garden shears or a sharp pair of scissors.
    • If you trim the flowers at the end of June, you can cut the leaves in late July or early August.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 2:
Trimming Tulips for Display

  1. 1
    Prune your tulips when the blooms are closed but the color is visible. To maximize your bloom time, cut your tulips when they are in the advanced bud stage. This is when the flower hasn’t quite emerged, but the bud is close to blooming and the color of the flower is visible. The flower will fully bloom in 1-4 days.[5]
    • You’ll see a pink or purplish color from within the mainly green bud, for example.
  2. 2
    Cut your tulips at least 12 in (1.3 cm) down the stem at an angle. Using a sharp knife, garden shears, or scissors, make your cut on the stem at angle. Cutting the plant at an angle keeps it healthy and promotes regrowth. You can cut your tulips to any desired length.[6]
    • For a standard vase size, cut the stem to around 12–18 in (30–46 cm).
  3. 3
    Avoid cutting the foliage as you trim your tulips. Only cut the stem of your tulip plants, rather than trimming the leaves as well. Make your cut towards the base of the plant, but ensure there are no leaves in the way. This keeps your plant healthy.[7]
    • Leaving the foliage in place helps the plant build up energy for next year.
  4. 4
    Put your tulips in a decorative vase full of water. Fill up a vase of your choosing about ⅔ of cool water, and then place your tulips inside. You can fill up your vase with many tulips, or you can also add other flowers or floral accents.[8]
    • Avoid adding paperwhite narcissus or daffodils to your tulip vase. These flowers exude a gummy sap that can harm your tulips.
    • Using floral preservative is not necessary for tulips. If you want to use one, simply shake it into the water before you place your tulips into the vase.
  5. 5
    Make a fresh cut at the base of the stem every 2-3 days. Use a knife to cut the end of the plant at an angle, removing about 11618 in (0.16–0.32 cm) of the stem. A knife is the preferred tool to make the cut, as scissors can crush the stem and make it more difficult for the plant to absorb water.[9]
  6. 6
    Replace the water in the vase daily. To maintain the health of your tulips, dump out the water every day. Then, fill your vase up with cool water. With proper care, your tulips can last 7-14 days in a vase.[10]
    • This helps the plants absorb water and extend their vase life.
    • Tulips stay fresh the longest in cold water, rather than warm or hot.
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Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Question
    Do you cut down tulips after they bloom?
    Maggie Moran
    Home & Garden Specialist
    Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania.
    Home & Garden Specialist
    Expert Answer
    Yes, you cut off the flower head from the stem when the flower is spent. Leave the stem showing 6 to 8 inches above the soil.
  • Question
    Do you need to deadhead daffodils?
    Maggie Moran
    Home & Garden Specialist
    Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania.
    Home & Garden Specialist
    Expert Answer
    No. Daffodils do not need to be deadheaded. Just leave them as-is and the flowers will fall off.
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      Things You’ll Need

      • Tulips
      • Gardening shears
      • Scissors
      • Knife
      • Decorative vase
      • Water


      • Small varieties of tulips often multiply and spread on their own, such as Fosterianas, Kaufmannianas, and Greggis.
      • Wearing gardening gloves when you prune will help protect your hands and improve your grip.
      • Always sanitize your knife, scissors, and other cutting tools with isopropyl alcohol before and after every use.

      About This Article

      Co-authored by:
      Home & Garden Specialist
      This article was co-authored by Maggie Moran. Maggie Moran is a Professional Gardener in Pennsylvania. This article has been viewed 123,501 times.
      56 votes - 86%
      Co-authors: 12
      Updated: June 20, 2022
      Views: 123,501
      Categories: Growing Flowers
      Article SummaryX

      Before you prune your tulips, wait for their flowers to start fading, which usually occurs around May or June. After they’ve faded, snip the heads of the tulips using a pair of garden shears or scissors. Avoid cutting your tulips’ leaves, since they help continue their growth cycle. About 6 weeks after they bloom, your tulip leaves may turn brown or yellow at the ends. If this happens, trim only the fading sections or cut the leaves at the base of the stem, which will help them grow back next year. For more tips from our Gardening co-author, including how to trim your tulips for display, read on!

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      Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 123,501 times.

      Reader Success Stories

      • Kathy Port

        May 27, 2020

        "Didn't know what to do––the blooms were already gone. My tulips looked horrible. I'm very pleased with the..." more
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