Tulipiere Vases Take the Guesswork Out of Styling Flowers
Here’s everything you need to know about tulipieres, the multi-spouted vases that make quick work of floral arrangements.
Tired of top-heavy tulips drooping? You might be using the wrong vessel for your floral arrangements. Luckily, a classic vase known as a tulipiere can help you create stunning designs with your favorite flowers.
So what exactly is a tulipiere? This type of vase features multiple spouts and a shared water reservoir. Considered decorative art in the Netherlands during the 17th century, tulipieres were displayed in the homes of wealthy Europeans who wanted to grow tulips indoors. “The tulipieres, often hand-painted delftware, were considered a status symbol during a time when bulbs were a commodity,” says Kelly Marie Thompson, owner of Fleur. “But today, tulipieres are an extremely affordable and attractive way to showcase your blooms.”
Ahead, floral experts answer your top tulipiere questions, including how to style one, which flowers to use, and where to purchase a tulipiere.
Tulips are the go-to for tulipieres not just because they’re the vessel’s namesake but also due to the nature of the flowers and how they bend and move after being placed in these vases. However, there are many other blooms that look great in a tulipiere, including ranunculus, hyacinth, roses, crocus, daylilies, poppies, sweet peas, cosmos, and even green foliage.
“I love filling mine with a mixture of yellow and orange daffodils, cut from my yard,” shares Thompson. “I also like to layer two to three garden rose stems in each spout along with wispy grasses or Queen Anne’s lace.”
Turn to your garden for inspiration when choosing flowers for a tulipiere. “Depending on what my garden holds, I like to bundle tiny posies together in each of the spouts," says Mindy Rice, owner of Mindy Rice Design. "I also love the look of soft vines spilling from the spouts in an organic way.”
“It’s less common now, but tulipieres were originally used to grow bulbs,” says Thompson. Doing so requires a vessel with spouts wide enough to fit the bulbs and deep enough to allow the bulb’s roots to be submerged in water. You’ll need to fill and change the tulipiere’s water every couple of days; the same maintenance applies to cut flowers.
“Be sure to trim the stems of cut flowers a half to one inch, on an angle, to allow the flowers to absorb more water,” says Peg Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Garden Shop.
Because many tulipieres have nooks and crannies (translation: hard-to-clean spaces), Rice likes to add a few drops of bleach to the water after the first water change to help thwart bacterial growth.
The good news is you don’t need to be a floral design expert to style a tulipiere. Start by holding the flower next to the vessel to approximate where you want it to land, then snip the stems accordingly. “When in doubt, always go long,” says Kate Holt, founder of theArk Elements in Los Angeles. “Remember, you can always trim more stem but you can’t add it back.”
One of the great things about these vessels is their no-fuss approach to flower arranging. “When I blend, I typically marry one large focal bloom, such as a ranunculus or garden rose, with a soft and lighter filler flower like Queen Anne’s lace,” says Thompson, who likes to think of the flowers as the accessory to a beautiful tulipiere.
Some flowers, like tulips, change form when they’re in the vase. Reynolds likes to place one to two flowers in each spout while tucking a filler flower at the base of each spout for added texture. “In spring, a daffodil, tulip, and hyacinth mix makes for a welcome arrangement as does combining textured flowers like delphinium, lisianthus, roses, and waxflowers,” says Reynolds. “If you’re focused on tulips, be sure to include both a parrot and ruffled variety and add in a little muscari in for a layered effect.”
Tulipieres vary in size, from petite vases that look great on tables to taller, pyramid-shaped vessels that rest on the floor. “Tabletop varieties are a nice addition to any nightstand or coffee or dining table, while a standing tulipiere can make a statement at the entrance of a home,” says Thompson.
For a centerpiece that can adapt to its settings, opt for a tiered design with multiple adjustable parts. “I own a multi-piece tulipiere that I can stack at various heights on my dining table to provide a sense of grandeur. I can remove two or three layers if it impedes conversation," says Rice.
If your vase showcases an ornate pattern, a monochromatic color palette or gradation of one color featured on the flowers makes a beautiful statement. If the tulipiere’s design is simpler in style, a mixture of spring colors will always work. “A monotone arrangement is always striking in a tulipiere, but I think you can go either way,” says Reynolds. “Mixing the flower colors is always beautiful and makes for a striking arrangement.”
Contrasting your tulipiere and flower colors can add a vibrant pop to any room while a more tone-on-tone look can be equally as pleasing. It all depends on your mood.
From ceramic to clay, marble to metal, tulpieres can be found in a variety of finishes. “I really love the handmade ceramic ones, especially in a neutral palette,” says Thompson. “They allow you to play around with all types of flowers.” Rice leans towards pure white tulipieres or ones glazed in a single color that have a shiny finish, while Reynolds loves tulipieres made of natural materials. “Clay is gorgeous and makes a perfect container for a whimsical arrangement,” she says.
“Finding a tulipiere in an antique store always feels extra special,” says Thompson. “I also recommend reaching out to local potters.” Other sources for tulipieres include boutique shops, secondhand stores, and Etsy. Holt also suggests sourcing vintage pieces at 1stDibs or Chairish. “Really good delft tulpieres can be extremely collectable and command top dollar depending on the maker and condition,” she says.