The tulip is one of the most popular flowers globally. Celebrated for their spectacular range of colors and exquisite structures, tulip flowers have many meanings and rich symbolism around the world. If you want to know more about tulip flower meaning and symbolism, their origins, types, or colors, you’ve come to the right place.

Ultimate Guide to Tulip Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Tulip Flower Overview

Tulip Flower Meanings & Symbolism

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

Tulips gained huge popularity throughout history due to their vibrant colors and striking beauty. There are more than 100 different species and thousands of varieties in each of them.

Tulips are bulbs with a short stem, fleshy leaves, and symmetrical petals. They’re also perennial, meaning they will continue to produce flowers year after year.

Tulip History & Origins

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

Tulip farming began in the early tenth century. However, the Tulip craze didn’t strike the Turks until the early 16th century during the reign of the Ottoman Empire.

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, referring to the Sultan’s crown at that time.

Major tulip festivals were held in the Ottoman Empire and it was considered a crime (punishable by exile) to buy or sell the flowers outside the Ottoman’s capital.

Tulip 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 tulips ignited a huge love for these flowers across Europe, especially the Netherlands. The interest for them became so great that some single tulip bulbs could cost more than an entire house in Amsterdam.

This was known as Tulip mania and it continued until the market crashed in the early 17th century. Tulip prices became regular, but the Dutch maintained their strong passion for the flower.

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

Tulip Flower Symbolism

Flowers 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.

Tulip flower meanings are separated by their different colors. While there are many to choose from, the only type you won’t find is blue tulips. Despite many attempts, true blue tulips don’t exist.

Red Tulip Flower Meaning

Red Tulip Flower Meanings
Red Tulips

Starting with one of the most beautiful and significant colors in the tulip world, red tulips symbolize perfect love, much like the red rose. They make wonderful gifts for Valentine’s Day.

Red tulips are also associated with a Persian love legend. 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 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 have been 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.

Orange Tulip Flower Meaning

Orange Tulip Flower Meanings
Orange Tulips

Orange 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.

For these reasons, orange tulips represent happiness and excitement. They’re also used to convey 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 deeply spiritual or physical connection with the recipient.

They are ideal for celebrations, birthdays, and thank you gifts.

Yellow Tulip Flower Meaning

Yellow Tulip Flower Meanings
Yellow Tulips

Years ago, yellow was said to represent jealousy, associated with the rejection of love. But in recent years, the color acquired a more hopeful representation.

Today, yellow tulips are linked with sunlight, cheerfulness, and pure friendship. This made yellow tulips one of the most popular spontaneous floral gifts.

In Feng Shui, 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.

White Tulip Flower Meaning

White Tulip Flower Meanings
White Tulips

White tulips represent purity and peace. Similarly, these beautiful flowers 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.

Pink Tulip Flower Meaning

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 excellent when visiting a sick relative or friend as a get-well gift.

Purple Tulip Flower Meaning

Purple Tulip Flower Meaning

Due to their velvety sheen and regal color, purple tulips symbolize royalty. They are one of the most elegant color types and stand out amongst the green foliage.

Black tulips are also popular options but aren’t technically classified as truly black. They have a purple tinge in the petals, meaning they fall under this category.

The Dutch Tulip

Dutch Tulip
Dutch Tulip

Dutch tulips are the common tulips you imagine when you think of one. They’re also known as Darwin Hybrid Tulips.

Dutch tulips are one of the most long-lasting flowers with very strong stems. This makes them perfect for cutting and gifting. Since they retain their shape and color for several years, many florists consider them one of the best tulip types.

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

Double Tulip

Double Tulip
Double Tulip

Double tulips are regular tulips with extra petals, which gives them a different look than 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 are 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 heavily scalloped and feature feathery plumage.

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

These tulip flowers are also popular in more masculine flower arrangements for the likes of Father’s Day.

Lady Tulips

About Lady Tulips (Tulipa clusiana)

Lady Tulips originate from dry, mountainous regions of the Middle East such as Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. They also grow on the western slopes of the Himalayas.

Lady Tulips are also known as Clusius’s tulip thanks to the work of 16th Century Flemish botanist Carolus Clusius. It was Clusius who ushered in the rapid spread of Tulipmania during the Dutch Golden Age by cultivating tulips.

For more, see our essential guide to growing Lady Tulips at home.

Things to Look for When Buying Tulips

Tulip Flower Symbolism

Here are a few tips to pick the best tulips.

Check the Color

Make sure to inspect the vibrancy of each tulip, as color is an indicator of overall health.

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 into 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. However, when you’re dealing with a bouquet, too many green leaves can be distracting and take away from the beauty of the flowers.

How to Arrange and Present Tulips

How to arrange tulip flowers

To present tulips, you need 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.

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

Choose the Color of the Tulips

If you’re using tulips for meaning, follow the guide above to choose the right color. However, if you’re aiming for a decorative bouquet, then you should choose matching hues that complement the surrounding environment.

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.

Trim the Stem

Prepare a sharp clean knife to avoid crushing the stem. Then, cut about an inch off the stem. These cuts should be made diagonally to allow for maximum water uptake.

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

Remove the Leaves

Remove any leaves that will sit below the water line to prevent rotting and bacterial growth. To remove a leaf, gently pull from the stem or trim with scissors.

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. Provide a snug fit to the tulips without squeezing the stems to keep them in place.

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

Sanitize the Container

After you choose the container, rinse it thoroughly with soap and water to clear any harmful residue. Bacteria can shorten the lifespan of tulips significantly.

Trim the Stem Periodically

Remember to trim the tulips every couple of days to help the stem draw more water. You can also sprinkle some flower food in the water to keep the tulips fresh for longer.

Wrap Up

For hundreds of years, people have enjoyed the magical beauty of this astonishing bulb. 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 flower guides to Roses, Goldenrod, Edelweiss, Crabapple Blossom, Astrantia, Viburnum, Bouvardia, Acanthus, Ranunculus, Lilies, Irises, Borage, Clovers, Freesia, Anemone, Begonia, Orchids, Allium, Carnations, Coreopsis, Gerbera Daisies, Gladiolus, and Peonies.  

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Contributing Editor | Full Bio | + posts

Madison is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She writes and photographs for various online and print publications in the gardening sphere and is the author of the book The Next-Generation Gardener.


Madison is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She writes and photographs for various online and print publications in the gardening sphere and is the author of the book The Next-Generation Gardener.

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