Tulips and daffodils come in dozens of varieties; ranunculus (shown, second from left) and poppies (shown, bottom) run the rainbow gamut. Also look for anemones (shown, top red flower), irises, and amaryllis. All bloom sometime between March and July.
- Cut stems at an angle with sharp flower clippers or a knife. For poppies, use a lighter or a match (Perez uses a flat iron) to gently singe the cut ends. This keeps sap inside but allows for water absorption.
- Some of these flowers emit a sappy substance (in poppies, it is toxic and can kill other flowers). Let the sap drain by putting flowers in water separately overnight before arranging.
- For a dense, upright arrangement, cut stems so the blossoms are about three inches from the top of the vase. Or fasten flowers loosely with a ribbon or a twist tie and lean them to one side in an extra-wide-mouthed vase.
- Poppies’ curling stems rule out structured arrangements. Put a bunch in a tall vase for a loose, extravagant look, or place two or three stems in a bottle or a decanter.
- Tulips can grow after they’re cut, changing shape; trim them vigilantly.
- Tall stems have more leaves, which decompose and pollute the water; change it at least every three days. Alejandro Saralegui, a landscape designer in Wainscott, New York, uses Floralife Crystal Clear, a citric acid formula, to extend the life of blooms.