Anticipate the arrival of spring with tulips

Even when it’s cold outside, homeowners can get an early jump on spring with a bunch of fresh tulips.

These vibrant flowers are a timeless symbol of spring. Available from January through May, tulips join groundhogs, grass and new leaves on trees as indicators that warmer weather is on its way.

Tulips were discovered in the 16th century in Turkey, but many varieties actually originated in North Africa, Western and Central Asia, and Europe. With more than 100 species and more than 500 different varieties, tulips are one of the largest members of the lily family. They’re available in many colors, including striped and variegated, and have many shapes, including single, double, parrot, fringed and goblet.

Tulips are unique in that they continue to grow after cutting. Their stems often will extend up to two inches after they are clipped. Also, the flower’s attraction to light may cause tulip stems to bend, twist and turn into new and beautiful positions.

To maximize the life of your flowers, ex-perts recommend that you cut off at least one-half inch of flower stems before placing your tulips in a vase filled with cool water. Add a floral preservative to keep the water fresh and the flowers nourished. Add water to the vase every day.

Completely change the water every three days and recut the stems. Place your arrangement in a cool spot, away from heat.