The Tulip Flower: Meanings, Symbolism, Origins, Colors, and Care Tips.

The Tulip Flower – a genus of perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophytes – is one of the most popular flowers in the world. Celebrated for their spectacular range of color and exquisite structures we believe the Tulip is right up there with the venerable Rose. If you want to know more about Tulip Flower Meanings, Symbolism, their origins, types, or color significance, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s go!

A Brief History of the Tulip

Tulip Flower Meanings & Symbolism

A Tulip is a name given to the flowers of the spring-blooming genus of Tulipa from the Liliaceae plant family.

The flowers of tulips gained huge popularity across history due to their large size, vibrant colors, and striking beauty. Tulips exist in various shapes and colors because there are more than 100 different species and thousands of varieties in each of them.

They’re bulbous plants, which signify that the flower has a bulb with a short stem, fleshy leaves, and symmetrical petals. They’re also perennial, which means that their average lifespan lies between two to three years before they revert back to their bulb.

The flowers of tulips gained huge popularity across history due to their large size, vibrant colors, and striking beauty. Tulips exist in various shapes and colors because there are more than 100 different species and thousands of varieties in each of them.

Origins in the Ottoman Empire

Although the Netherlands’ cold winter is perfect for the blooming of the Tulips, the flowers aren’t actually Dutch. Tulips are originally indigenous to Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The wildflowers were first grown by the Turks. Tulips farming began in the early tenth century. However, Tulips’ craze didn’t strike the Turks until the early 16th century during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, which is currently Turkish lands extending to the east, towards Central Asia.

The Ottoman Sultan demanded the growing of certain varieties of tulips for his own pleasure. During this period, the tulips were called “Tulipan”, which meant “Turban”, the Sultan’s crown at that time.

Tulips mania reached its peak, which was called the “Age of the Tulips” or the “Tulip’s Golden Era”. Tulips had major festivals in the Ottoman Empire and it was considered a major crime (punishable by exile) to buy or sell the flowers outside the Ottoman’s capital.

Introduction to Western Europe

Tulip Flower History and Origins

By the end of the 16th century, an Austrian Biologist named Carolus Clusius played a major role in the introduction of tulips to the European world.

Clusius’ writings about the tulips ignited a huge love for tulips across Europe, especially the Netherlands. The interest for them became so big that some single tulip bulbs could sometimes cost even more than an entire house in Amsterdam.

This was known as “Tulipomania“, and it continued throughout the 1500s until the market crashed in the early 17th century. Tulips’ prices became regular, but the dutch kept their strong passion with the flower until this very moment.

Since then, tulips have always been linked to the Netherlands, with more than 7 million flower bulbs planted every year in Keukenhof Garden in Lisse, Netherlands, according to NASA Earth Observatory.

Tulip Flower Symbolism

Flowers, in general, let you say a lot without ever speaking a word. Although meanings have been attributed to flowers for thousands of years, the language of flowers has been well-documented since Victorian times.

Today, we can use flowers to say what can’t express. With the vibrant and bright colors of tulips, they’re a great choice for that task. Since tulips come in many colors, each of these colors has a different meaning accordingly.

Red Tulip Flower Meanings

Red Tulip Flower Meanings
Red Tulips

Starting with one of the most beautiful and significant colors in the tulips’ world, red Tulips are your color of choice if you want to show how much you’re deeply in love with someone. 

The color red has always been linked with love and desire, as it’s an emotional color. Since red is one of the warmest colors, it has a deep feeling of evoking our emotions of romance and passion. They also bring comfort to feelings of hostility and anger.

Red tulips are also associated with a Persian love legend, where the main characters of this legend are Farhad and his beloved princess, Shirin. In the legend, Farhad loved Shirin, but he was never able to confess his love to her.

When he heard the news of Shirin’s death, Farhad wallowed in great grief and stabbed himself to death, the legend says that red tulips bloomed in spots where his blood droplets fell. Since then, red tulips became a symbol of the declaration of eternal love.

In Feng Shui, decorating your house with red tulips is said to bring both wealth and love to the homeowner. Additionally, it’s also believed that red tulips help people rise to recognition and fame.

Recommended Occasions to send red tulips:

  • Spontaneous gestures of affection, love or romance.

Orange Tulip Flower Meanings

Orange Tulip Flower Meanings
Orange Tulips

Orange is one of the warm colors. It signifies joy, enthusiasm, and the longing for rays of sunshine. Since orange can also symbolize heat, it carries closer meanings in terms of love and compassion. Nevertheless, the orange feelings aren’t as intense as the red.

For these reasons, orange represents happiness and excitement in the world of tulips. They’re also used to convey and display a sense of understanding, mutual connection, and appreciation between two people, whether they’re in a relationship or not.

Sending a bouquet of orange tulips means that you share a deep spiritual or physical connection with the recipient.

Recommended Occasions to send red tulips:

  • Celebrations and Congratulations
  • Family birthdays
  • Friends and Thank Yous.

Yellow Tulip Flower Meanings

Yellow Tulip Flower Meanings
Yellow Tulips

Yellow color has changed meanings across the ages. Years ago, it was said to represent jealousy and was associated with the rejection in love. But in recent years, the color acquired a more hopeful and brighter representation.

The modern interpretation of yellow has linked it with sunlight, cheerfulness, and pure friendship. This made yellow tulips one of the most popular “just because” floral gifts.

In the Feng Shui style, if you want a bit of luck to knock on your doors, you should have a yellow tulip planted in your front yard, as they bring prosperity and good omens.

Recommended Occasions to send yellow tulips:

  • Celebrations and Congratulations
  • Family birthdays
  • Friends and Thank Yous.

White Tulip Flower Meanings

White Tulip Flower Meanings
White Tulips

White colors represent purity and peace. Similarly, white tulips are excellent picks for an apology bouquet. If you’re looking for a romantic way to say “I’m sorry”, then a white bouquet of tulips might be what you’re looking for. White tulips also are also a perfect at home bulb when you’re looking to spruce up your home with some floral blooms.

Recommended Occasions to send red tulips:

  • Home decor
  • Forgiveness
  • Friends and Thank Yous.

Pink Tulip Flower Meanings

Pink Tulip Flower Meanings
Pink Tulips

Pink is the color of good wishes, health, and confidence. This makes pink tulips a great way to congratulate someone on graduation or a new job.

They can also mean that you wish someone a speedy recovery. This makes them an excellent gift when visiting a sick relative or friend.

Recommended Occasions to send pink tulips:

  • Celebrations and Congratulations
  • Family birthdays
  • Friends and Thank Yous
  • Sympathy and Well-Wishing.

What Are the Most Popular Tulips Varieties?

Although there are many types and varieties of tulips, they’re one of the most iconic flowers in the world due to their common and unique shapes. For that reason, we can group them into 3 main and most popular varieties.

The Dutch Tulip

Dutch Tulip
Dutch Tulip

Dutch tulips are the standard looking tulips that you imagine when you think of one, they’re known as the Darwin Hybrid Tulips. They’re also known to be one of the most long-lasting flowers with very strong stems.

This makes them perfect for cutting and gifting as well, they come in a variety of brilliant colors, and they look amazing anywhere you put them. Since they retain their shape and color for several years, many people and florists consider them one of the best tulips.

Similar to daffodils, they usually bloom in midseason, and they have great resistance to wind and nature forces.

Double Tulip

Double Tulip
Double Tulip

Double tulips are regular tulips with extra petals, which gives them a differential look that adds to the magic and beauty of regular tulips.

Despite the name, the number of petals isn’t always doubled. They also come in many colors including white, pink, and red. Double tulips as long-lasting with shorter stems, making them ideal for outdoor and indoor decorations.

Parrot Tulip

Parrot Tulips
Parrot Tulips

Parrot tulips are one of the most gracious and exotic tulips in the world. Their petals are characterized by being heavily scalloped and fingered with feathery plumage.

They’re showy, elegant, and romantic. However, their big and full size requires extra protection and care against weather conditions, such as wind and rain.

If you’re looking for a superstar addition to your garden, a parrot tulip can be everything you’re looking for.

Things to Look for When Buying Tulips

Tulip Flower Symbolism

Here are a few tips so you can pick the best tulips.

Check the Color

Make sure to inspect the vibrancy of each tulip, as they signify for its overall health condition.

Pick the Closed Ones

Tulips that are already opened make for a perfect display for a day or two. However, they usually don’t last for long, as they’re already further through their life cycle.

While purchasing the tulips, remember that your arrangement will last much longer if you choose tulips that are still closed. The freshest tulips are the ones with opaque edges.

Avoid Leafy Tulips

In the case of a single tulip, leaves provide a sufficient amount of greenery in your tulip. However, when you’re dealing with a bouquet, too much green leaves can be a bit distracting and take away from the beauty of the tulips.

How to Arrange and Present Tulips?

How to arrange tulip flowers

To present tulips you have to master the art of tulip arrangement. Since tulips require special care while arranging, it’s important to learn how to prepare and present them.

After you make choices regarding the color and variants of the tulips, it’s time to decide how big you want your bouquet to be.

Choose the Number of Tulips

If you want a large bouquet or arrangement, then you need 8 to 12 tulips. However, if you want a smaller arrangement you can start with as little as 3 tulips.

If you’re planning to present them or display them in a vase or a container, then you should also make sure that they’re a good fit and that the tulips’ stems aren’t squeezed into the vase.

Choose the Color of the Tulips

If you’re using tulips to signify for meaning, then you should follow the guide above. However, if you’re aiming for a decorative bouquet, then you should choose matching hue colors that complement the room’s paint color.

Prepare the Tulips

After picking your tulips, rinse the stems with cold water to remove dirt and specks of dust that might be trapped in the leaves, as they give an unpleasant sensation.

Trim the Stem

Prepare a sharp clean knife to avoid crushing the stem, then cut from 0.5 to 1 inch from the stem, leaving about 5 to 6 inches above the display for the perfect arrangement. These cuts should be made diagonally to allow for maximum drawing of water.

Although you can do this trimming anywhere, it’s recommended to be done under running or still water to prevent air bubbles from entering the stem and obstructing the water-absorbing channels in the stem.

Remove the Leaves

You should remove at least one leaf of each tulip, you may remove more as you desire if you prefer less green in your arrangement. To remove a leave, gently pull a leaf from the stem in a peeling-like motion.

Straighten the Tulips

To keep the tulips standing upright, roll them in a paper cone and keep them in this shape for an hour or two. When you take them out, they’ll be straight and ready to be grouped in a bouquet.

How to Care for Tulips?

How to Care For Tulip Flowers

If you’re on the receiving end of the tulips, or you want to care for your fresh tulip flower delivery, then you should follow these steps.

Find a Suitable Container

The best thing about tulips is that they look great in any container, as we mentioned above, the most important thing about the container is to provide a snug fit to the tulips without squeezing the stems.

It should also be able to hold a decent amount of water, because tulips are heavy water drinkers.

Sanitize the Container for Safety

After you choose the container, rinse it thoroughly with water to clear any harmful residue of previous contents. This is important because bacteria can shorten the lifespan of tulips significantly.

Trim the Stem Periodically

Remember to trim the tulips every couple of days to keep help the stem draw more water, as they lose the ability with time. You can also sprinkle some flower preservative in the water to keep the tulips extra fresh for longer.

Wrap Up

For hundreds of years, people have enjoyed the magical beauty of these astonishing bulbous plants. With proper care, they can last for a long time. Tulips are a great gift, a piece of art in your yard, and a way to say a thousand unspoken words.

Petal Republic’s flower and plant guides:

Looking for a particular stem or in need of some inspiration on the best blooms for a certain occasion? Check out Petal Republic’s expert buying guides to Roses, Ranunculus, Lilies, Irises, Tulips, Orchids, Carnations, Gerbera Daisies, Gladiolus, and Peonies.  


We are a floristry, plant, and lifestyle city resource curated by a passionate team of horticulturists, floral & plant enthusiasts, budding designers, and intrepid urban gardeners. We're committed to showcasing the best in floral and plant design, sharing our experience and recommendations on the best blooms and greenery for every occasion, season, and living environment, and spreading our love of the enchanting world of flowers and plants.

Comments are closed.