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The Many Colors of Tulips and What Each One Symbolizes

March 18, 2021

From tulips to chrysanthemums, our series “The Language of Flowers” explores everything from fresh flower care tips to flower symbolism and meaning. 

Flowers, with their spectrum of colors, have a beautiful language all their own. Symbolism of both the flowers and their colors are found in scripture, literature, and art in both Eastern and Western cultures. Flowers carry heartfelt messages of all kinds depending on the type of flower and its color.  

The symbolism took root in the 1500s when women in the Middle East and Europe preferred to express their sentiments with flowers rather than words. Dictionnaire du Language des Fleurs was the first published work on the subject in 1809 by Joseph Hammer-Purgstall, an Austrian historian. Hundreds of books on floriography — the language of flowers — followed, and interest in floral symbolism peaked in Europe and the United States in the 1800s.  

Today, we speak this language every time we send messages of caring with flowers, so be sure to choose a bouquet with the appropriate meaning. Tulips bloom in the spring and symbolize new life and perfect love, but they come in many colors. What do their different colors mean? Take a look at each tulip color below to send just the right message to those you love. 

Red tulips

Red tulips are a strong declaration of love, passion, and perfect love. When you’ve found that perfect someone and you want to let them know how much you care, send them a romantic bouquet of bright red tulips. 

Pink tulips

Pink tulips have more to do with affection and good wishes than with passionate love. They are perfect to send to friends or family for a birthday, congratulations, or any happy occasion to show that you care. 

Purple tulips 

In the past, purple signified royalty. Today, you can let your loved one know that you appreciate how regal they are with an elegant purple tulip bouquet. Purple is also part of the Easter tradition, denoting the beginning of new life, and is a popular flower color for bouquets at that time of year. 

Orange tulips 

Orange tulips show understanding, compassion, and sympathy. You can celebrate your special connection to a colleague, friend, or a romantic partner with a bouquet of orange tulips. 

Yellow tulips 

Yellow is a cheerful color that symbolizes friendship, happiness, and hope. Yellow tulips are an excellent choice for a sunny bouquet of uplift and encouragement, get well wishes, or a just-because for a friend. 

White tulips 

White is the color of purity, innocence, honor, respect, and forgiveness. White tulips are often seen at religious services such as weddings, baptisms, and funerals. They can also say, “I’m sorry,” to ask for forgiveness and to mend a friendship. 

Variegated tulips 

Tulips with multiple-colored petals symbolize beautiful eyes. They are perfect for telling a special someone that they take your breath away. 

Blue tulips

Blue tulips symbolize peace and tranquility. This is a unique color in tulips that can calm anxiousness and offer a sense of serenity. Send a bouquet of blue tulips to calm an  anxious friend or family member. 

There are so many avenues of communication today — by written note, text, email, phone, or video conferencing — that a simple sentiment expressed with flowers is a refreshing and delightful change of pace. Show a friend or loved one that you care by sending a bouquet of beautiful tulips that express your feelings with the age-old language of flowers. 

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