Tulip Flower Meaning, Spiritual Symbolism, Color Meaning & More

Tulips are popular for being big, bright, and beautiful. They are steeped in legend and its name was after the Persian word for turban. This is because they resemble a turban when they are in full bloom.

They originated in Asia yet they are now popular all over the world, especially in Turkey and the Netherlands. This article takes a closer look at the flower. It includes what the different colors of the flower mean, their forms of symbolism, and the legends behind their origin. 

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What Does The Tulip Mean?

Though tulips are most widely popular as being from the Netherlands, before this flower ended up in Holland, it made a successful journey from Asia. The flower’s origins are rooted in Central Asia, and this is where it grew in wild landscapes.

Around 1000 AD, it made its way to Turley and the Ottomans grew to love it. They planted them in huge gardens around the country until it eventually made its way across the water to Holland. 

There are a wide variety of colors, but also styles when it comes to tulips. The Dutch tulip is what we would know as a traditional tulip and has many different layers of single petals. The Double tulip has the same look but with added petals. While the Parrot tulip has elongated petals with scalloped edges.

When it comes to the meaning of tulips, they often mean perfect love. As in the Turkish and Persian tales of Farhad and Shirin we will later explore in this article. However, since they are one of the first flowers to bloom in the springtime, they can also symbolize rebirth, much like the daffodil.

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They are great gift to someone who just started a new job or moved into a new home.

Finally, Victorians sometimes associated tulips with charity and working as a team to achieve a greater good.

Etymological Meaning Of The Tulip

Tulips were introduced from Turkey to Europe. The first recorded instance of a tulip flowering was in 1559 in Johann Heinrich Herwart’s garden in Augsburg. The flower became popularized in Holland following the year 1587 by Clusius.

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The tulip-mania took over the country during the 1630s. The Turkish word is represented in Italian tulipano, Spanish tulipan, but the -an was dropped in German, where it was mistaken for a suffix.

The Tulip tree, found in 1705 was a North American magnolia and was called this because of its flowers that resembled tulips.

The Symbolism Of The Tulip

Tulips are survivors. They have survived travel over centuries and survived the madness that was Tulipomania. These are a treasured flower in the garden and any bouquet. Making it a great gifts to anyone who you are trying to send positivity.

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They are beautiful to look at and bring vibrancy to any room. But, there are also important symbolic meanings to note.

Perfect Love

There is a type of love that we yearn for, a type of love that overpowers any other human feeling. This love fills your whole body, every organ, and through your bloodstream.

Tulips are a symbol of this kind of love. When you give a tulip to someone you love, whether this is a romantic interest or partner, parent, grandparent, child, or best friend, you are showing them just how much you love them.

This symbolism is down to the tale of Prince Farhad and his love Shirin, which we explore later in the article. We will explore how there are multiple versions of this story. Yet they both involve his becoming brokenhearted after learning Shirin is dead.

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Whilst trying to deal with grief, Farhad kills himself. And red tulips grow in the place where his blood had hit the ground.

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay


If you have ever grown tulips yourself, you will know that they wait underground through the winter, until they emerge once more in the springtime. This is why they symbolize rebirth. The symbolism of these flowers makes them perfect gift to someone starting a new chapter in his life. 

11th Wedding Anniversary Flower

The flower is also a symbol of the 11th wedding Anniversary. The velvety black center represents a lover’s heart that has been darkened by the heat of passion.

The power in rival roses in the red version of the flower and the sweet and innocent charm of simple joy with the yellow version. It’s no wonder that in addition to the other symbolism, in flower language, a bouquet of tulips represent utmost grace and elegance. The perfect wedding anniversary celebration flower.

Tulip Color Meanings

The tulip’s symbolism is also related to the color of the flower. Here we look at the symbolism behind each color. 

Red Tulip

Red is tied to romance and this remains true for the color of the flower. These types of tulips symbolize the love found in the tale of Farhad and Shirin. They are great to give to a lover as they symbolize passion and romance.

Yellow Tulip

When you see a bunch of yellow tulips, you will find it difficult not to smile. The flowers are tied to cheerfulness, joy, and good luck and spread happiness wherever you take them.

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Purple Tulips

The color purple has been tied to royalty for centuries. This means if you are looking for a flower that represents royalty, grace, and elegance, look no further than the purple tulip.

White Tulips

White tulips are also an excellent choice if you are looking for another elegant flower. They also represent purity and respect and they are a good way to say ‘I’m Sorry’. They are a popular flower to say ‘Thank You’ with.

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Meaningful Botanical Characteristics Of The Tulip

Most tulips are between 20 and 60 centimeters in height, yet some can reach 70-80 centimeters high. However, whilst they can reach this height, some prefer to stay low and stay at almost ground level. Tulips that lay this low are popular as the tulip humilis.

They measure around 6-10 cm in height and they are often smaller than the horticultural varieties. 

Tulips bloom between March and May, or until June with later blooming varieties. The earliest flowers are botanical tulips and these are famous as kaufmanniana tulips and fosteriana tulips. The ones that bloom in May are popular as parrot tulips, fringed tulips, fleur-de-lis tulips, and viridiflora tulips.

Tulips rise to the sky. The botanical species as well as most other varieties have three sepals and three petals. These floral pieces have the same color and appearance and this gives them the impression of six different colored leaves.

The flowers take a variety of forms, either in a section, an ovoid, a star, or a goblet. They can be open and reveal the heart of the flower, but sometimes this is a different color. They can also be closed.

Special Occasions For The Tulip

As we mentioned, the flower, just like the daffodil symbolizes rebirth and new beginnings. This is because they bloom in the spring and continue into the summer months. Meaning, they are great gift for special occasions that mark the start of a new chapter, such as moving house.

If you do decide to give tulips as a housewarming present, you need to be aware of how long tulips stay fresh. With the proper cut and care, they can last up to ten days. To prolong their life, you should provide them with plenty of fresh water and keep them out of the sun.

You should also give them flower food. If you give someone a tulip bulb to plant themselves, you will need to tell them to plant the bulbs in the fall. After spending all winter in the ground, these bulbs will then shoot up with leaves and flowers, symbolizing the start of Spring.

Tulips are also great on Valentine’s Day. If you opt to give your partner tulips on a special occasion, ensure you choose red tulips. These symbolize love, romance, and passion.

A Valentine’s Day tulip arrangement is an unforgettable way to express unspoken love. This will remind your loved one of how much you treasure them.

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Tulip Cultural Significance

As we have already mentioned, the tulip traveled from Central Asia, spread into Turkey, and eventually made an appearance in Holland. Once they had arrived in 1634, the Dutch went mad for the flower and this was known as Tulipomania.

They started to spend huge amounts of money on the bulb in hope that they could make a profit. The red and white striped tulip popular as the Semper Augustus was said to have been worth the price of a Dutch mansion.

There are old tales of the poor spending life savings on tulips and the flower completely took control of society.

However, when too many people were attempting to sell the bulbs, but not many were buying, this caused the market to crash in the 17th century, This left the Dutch extremely hesitant about investing in the flower for a long time.

Despite the crash, the flower is still very popular across the country. Every year, the capital, Amsterdam celebrates National Tulip Day which takes place in January.

The tulip growers of the country build a huge tulip garden in the square. People visit to pick their bouquet of free flowers. It marks the start of the tulip season.

In Turkey, the flower means perfect love. This is tied to Persian and Turkish legend about the love between Farhad and Shirin. Farhad was a prince and was in love with Shirin. Shirin, however, was murdered and in defeat. As a result, Farhad rides off a cliff on his horse. Later on, a red tulip grew where his blood hits the ground.

In another version of the tale, Farhad is a stone cutter and Shirin is a princess. When she rejects him, he goes to the hills and plays music in her honor. She then falls in love with him after learning of this. But, her father is not pleased. So he makes him dig a giant canal to prove his love.

When Farhad nearly finished his task, Shirin’s father instructs a courtesan to tell him Shirin was dead when in fact she is alive. Farhad takes his own life. Shirin takes her life to be with him when she discovers the tragedy.

Red tulips grow where their blood hits the ground as a symbol of everlasting love. This tale is often popular as the rival to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Tulip Flower Facts

  • Tulips are the flower used for eleven-year wedding anniversaries as symbols of devotion and love.
  • Tulips belong in the same family as onions and lilies.
  • The bulbs need to be planted in the fall and always bloom in springtime, leading into the summer months.
  • There are over 3000 varieties of tulips.

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Tulip Flower Uses

In the Second World War, there are tales of people eating the bulbs of tulips, especially when the Dutch famine took place. J.H. Warmerdam tells the story of a man who grew up in the Netherlands during the war. The bulbs ended up giving people skin rashes.

Though this is not a common practice to eat the bulbs anymore, many people still enforce their belief that tulips should not be ingested. Despite this belief, the petals of the flowers are often in use as a salad garnish and in other popular dishes.

Whether used as an expression of deep love or to brighten up someone’s day, the flowers are vibrant. Making it a great way to bring some positivity into life or pop a splash of color into any room!

What Is The Symbolism Of A Tulip Flower Tattoo?

The main meaning of a tulip tattoo is love. If you are obsessed with romance and believe love is an important part of life, a tulip tattoo might be just the tattoo for you. Even if you are single, this might be a tattoo to say you wish to find love. Hoping that you will be with that future partner forever. 

Since tulips also represent rebirth as spring is when everything comes back after winter, the tattoo can symbolize the beginning of a stage in life and the start of something big. It can also represent female empowerment.

White tulip tattoos represent forgiveness. The white tulip can symbolize not only having a lot of forgiveness in general but also as a promise to forgive someone specific.

Yellow tulip tattoos can represent joy, but also hopeless love and betrayal, and purple tulip tattoos represent nobility, elegance, and courage. Black tulip tattoos can be quite dark and symbolize the wearer does not want to die without their life partner.

It says you want to die at the same time as them and then you would not have to live without them and vice versa.

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Final Thoughts

We hope after reading this article you have gained a better understanding of what the tulip flower means in terms of its symbolism, botanical characteristics, cultural significance, and more.

Remember, the meaning of a tulip depends entirely on the color and though in general, the flower represents love and rebirth, their colors carry much deeper forms of symbolism.

The tulip is a beautiful flower and if you ever want to add a bit of color back into someone’s life, it could be the flower for them.


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