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Tulip Meaning and Symbolism

Purple yellow and white tulips in a field highlight by sunshine

With sweet petals and a wide variety of colors, tulips are a beloved flower. Whether you’re picking tulips from your spring garden or receiving a tulip delivery, it’s hard not to smile at these cheerful flowers.

Not only are these flowers gorgeous, but they also have a rich history packed with symbolism. If you’re ready to learn all about the tulip, you will fall even more in love with these cheerful blooms. If you want to learn how to take care of your tulips, we can help you there too.

The Tulip’s Origins

Multi colored tulip fields blooming in spring

While you may think the tulip originated in the Netherlands, this isn’t true. Before this flower found its way to Holland, it made quite the journey.

The tulip originated in Central Asia where it grew in wild landscapes. Sometime around 1000 AD, it made its way to modern-day Turkey. The Ottomans fell in love with tulips and planted them in vast gardens. From there, tulips made their way to Holland sometime around 1600.


Dutch Tulip Mania

Once tulips arrived in Holland, they remained under the radar for about 30 years. That all changed when people went wild for these flowers in 1634…or at least that’s what some claim. The craze for tulips is now known as Tulipomania.

The Dutch began spending huge sums of money on tulip bulbs in hopes they could later sell the bulbs for an even bigger profit. A tulip with red and white striped petals known as the Semper Augustus tulip was rumored to sell for as much as a Dutch mansion!

There are tales of the poor spending their life savings on a tulip bulb and of a sailor being thrown into jail for accidentally eating a bulb. In simple terms, tulips took over Dutch society.

These tulip buyers’ dreams eventually crumbled when the tulip market crashed just a year later. Economists still talk about Tulipomania when discussing the dangers of an unregulated market.

But want to know a slightly disappointing secret? Historians believe people have largely exaggerated the tales of Tulipomania. While many people did spend lots of money on tulips, the crash of the tulip market did not destroy the Dutch economy, and people were not thrown in jail.


Types of Tulips

Black Parrot burgundy tulips in the field

Along with coming in a wide variety of colors, tulips also come in different styles.

The Dutch tulip is probably what you think of when you envision a tulip. They have many layers of delicate single petals.

Double tulips have the same look, but they add volume with extra petals.

Parrot tulips have elongated petals with scalloped edges. The petals resemble parrot wings, leading to their name.


Tulip Symbolism

White geometric ceramic vase with bouquet of pink tulips flowers on a wooden table or shelf on a background of light gray wall.

Fortunately, tulips survived the drama of Tulipomania. Today, they’re a well-loved flower in both the garden and bouquet. Not only are these flowers beautiful, but they also have some interesting symbolism.

Unyielding, Perfect Love

You know the type of love that overpowers every other feeling? The type of love that fills up your whole body? Tulips are the perfect way to symbolize this. When you give a tulip to a partner, parent, child, or friend, you’re showing them how much you love them.

This symbolism is partially drawn from the story of Prince Farhad and his love Shirin. There are different versions of this tale, but they all involve Farhad becoming distraught after learning Shirin has died. While dealing with his grief, Farhad injures himself. As his blood hits the ground, red tulips spring up in its place.


If you’ve ever grown tulips, you know that they wait underground all winter and reemerge each spring. This is why they symbolize rebirth.

This symbolism makes tulips the perfect gift for someone who is starting a new job, moving to a new city, or dealing with a breakup.


Tulip Color Meanings

If you want to break down tulip’s symbolism a bit more you can look at the meanings behind the different colors of tulips.

Red Tulips

Red is often tied to romance, and this remains true for tulips. Red tulips symbolize passionate love and romance.

Yellow Tulips

It’s hard not to smile when you look at a bunch of yellow tulips. Therefore it’s no surprise that these flowers are tied to cheerfulness, good luck, and joy.

Purple Tulips

In case you didn’t know, the color has long been tied to royalty. So if you’re looking for a tulip that exudes elegance and grace, you can’t go wrong with purple.


Cheerful pink tulips symbolize well wishes, care, and affection. That means they’re the perfect gift for someone who is feeling a bit under the weather or going through a hard time. They’re also a good choice when you want to congratulate someone on a job well done.

White Tulips

With their elegant appearance, white tulips symbolize respect and purity. They’re a good way to say “thank you” as well as “I’m sorry.”


How Long Do Fresh Tulips Last?

Before you bring these flowers home, it’s a good idea to know how long tulips are fresh. With the proper care, cut tulips can last up to ten days. Make sure to provide them with fresh water, keep them out of the sun, and give them flower food.

How Many Tulips Does Holland Export?

The Netherlands is known as the tulip capital of the world for good reason. Holland exports over two million tulips each year!

When is the Best Time to Plant Tulip Bulbs?

If you want to grow these flowers at home, you’ll need to plant tulip bulbs in the fall. After spending the winter in the ground, the bulbs will shoot up leaves and flowers.

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