It is standard practice among cut flower growers to pull the entire bulb when harvesting a tulip to gain the extra few inches of stem length. I tried not to do this the first couple years I was in business because it seemed wasteful and expensive. However, if you want to cut a tulip and have it come back next year you need to leave two leaves on each tulip so the bulb can regenerate itself. This often meant I was cutting tulips that were barely taller then the jar I was putting them in. I may try to experiment with certain varieties again sometime but for now I have started to just pull them.
The tulips this year have been very nice but with the unseasonably warm April weather they blasted through nearly the entire tulip season in less than a week. Tulips should be cut (or pulled) when the bud is fully colored but before it has started to open. Darwin hybrid tulips should be cut a little sooner, when the the bud is only half colored. In warm weather tulips mature very rapidly, so for the past week I have been checking them every few hours and cutting all of them that are ready. I strip the lower leaves, wash them and then store them in the cooler until I need them.
Last fall I ordered about 2000 tulips from ColorBlends. ColorBlends specializes in selling bulbs in packages that bloom at the same time and look good together. The names for the combinations are cutesy and drive me crazy but the quality is tops and the prices are reasonable. I am not a good enough photographer to do justice to these tulips and I always cut them before they are fully open anyway, so I am going to show pictures and links to the ColorBlends website.
Flame and Fortuyn
I only ordered one or two hundred of each so not everyone will see all of these in their homes.