Source: Martha Stewart Living Television
When making a flower arrangement with tulips, choose several colors with mixed petal shapes to create a pleasingly complex arrangement. Martha often fills her bowl with tulips in colors ranging from pale-green to yellow to crimson, some with stripes or contrasting borders, with frilly, fringed, pointed, and cupped petals.
Upon purchase, if tulip stems are bowed, wrap them tightly in wet paper and place them in water with a source of light directly above them.
Since the tulips are brightly colored and look best in large arrangements, choose a yellowware bowl for a container. To hold the stems in place, place a metal flower frog in the bottom of the bowl, first padding the bottom with lumps of floral clay to avoid scratching the treasured dish.
If you don't own a floral frog, you can cut a piece of chicken wire a bit larger than the diameter of your container, fold the edges under, and insert it just inside the top of the container to hold the stems.Scrub the vase you intend to use with a 1:10 solution of bleach and water to kill any bacteria that could hasten the flowers' spoilage.
Metal flower frog
Lumps of floral clay
1:10 solution of bleach
With a sharp knife, cut the stems of the tulips at a 45-degree angle, which allows them to draw in water. If tulips need to be perked up a bit, you can expedite the flow of water by poking a hole just beneath the flower head with a pin to allow air to escape.
Fill your container to within a couple inches of the top with cold water, and add a packet of floral preservative (available at florist shops) or a teaspoon of sugar and a drop of bleach to feed the flowers and retard bacterial growth.
Be sure to remove any leaves under the water level as you add the flowers to your arrangement, because submerged leaves will rot.
When you've finished forming your arrangement, place it in a spot with even light, or else rotate it frequently, because tulips will turn to face the sun. When the water begins to look cloudy, pour it out, recut the stems, and add new water. Cloudiness is a sign that bacteria are growing and will interfere with the flower' ability to take in water and nutrients.
Finally, don't be surprised if, after a day, your arrangement seems a bit larger -- tulips continue to grow for about a day after they're placed in water.