Tulip Flower

6 min read

The tulip is a superb bulbous plant that brings luminous flowering with brilliant colors through spring. It is a very elegant flower, which rises to the sky, at the top of a sturdy stem. It seduces us with its simplicity and incredible finesse. It offers an extensive range of colors: there are black, white, yellow, red, orange, mauve, and pink tulips. They can be dull, but also multicolored, and present superb patterns. The flowers take different forms; they are sometimes simple, and you get a single appearance, but other times double, as in parrot tulips.

In this article, we are going to discover more the beauty and the history behind this flower.

  • Botanical tulips
  • Characteristics
  • A bit of history
  • Symbolism
  • Different colors and meanings
  • Planting tips
  • Interesting facts about the flower

Botanical Tulips

Tulips are bulbous plants with spring flowering, which include nearly 120 species. They have been widely hybridized to give today thousands of varieties with the most varied shades. Their center of diversity is located in the steppes of Central Asia, especially in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.

In France, we find in the wild some species such as tulips sylvestris, agenensis, or clusiana. Tulips belong to the Liliaceae family and the Lys family, which also includes fritillaries, erythroniums, and tricyrtis. Most of the current varieties are from Tulipa x gesneriana. Cultivated tulips are classified into 15 groups, according to their characteristics (single early, double early, triumph tulips, fleur-de-lys, etc.)

Tulips generally produce a long, erect stem, which has a sizeable solitary flower at its end. However, there are also multi-flowered tulips, which have several flowers per stem.


Most tulips are between 20 and 60 centimeters tall. There are, however, some exceptions. Some tulips can reach 70-80 cm high. On the contrary, some tulips are very low standing, offering flowers almost at ground level, such as the tulip humilis, or ‘Tête à Tête.’ It measures between 6 and 10 cm in height. Botanical tulips are often smaller than horticultural varieties.

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According to the different varieties, tulips bloom between March and May, or even until June for the later ones. The earliest flowers are botanical tulips such as kaufmanniana tulips, and fosteriana tulips. The latest (around May) are parrot tulips, viridiflora tulips, fringed tulips, and fleur-de-lis tulips.

Tulip flowers rise straight to the sky. In botanical species, and most varieties, the flowers have three sepals and three petals. These six floral pieces generally have the same color and the same appearance, giving the impression of six colored leaves.

The flowers can take various forms: in a section, in a goblet, an ovoid, or in a star. They can be very open, revealing the heart of the flower, sometimes of a different color, but can also closed.

A Bit of History

The Netherlands has a passion for tulips. The first bulbs were imported from Turkey in the middle of the 16th century by the Austrian ambassador.

Few decades later, botanist Charles de L’Ecluse introduced it to the Netherlands, where it immediately led to a huge success.

Specimens of different colors, in particular, are now sold at exorbitant prices. A single bulb can be worth more than a house.

Listed on the Haarlem stock exchange, tulips give rise to an extremely speculative market. It was supplied by collectors ready to do anything to obtain the rarest specimens.

Around 1635, prices collapsed, though, and this craze led to the ruin of many Dutch people. However, the tulip trade never stopped, and today, Holland supplies almost 88% of world tulip population.


Each tulip sends a message of love and passion. Be careful, however, to choose the color well. A yellow tulip symbolizes an impossible love, while a red one with a black heart represents a mad passion. You can offer it as a declaration of love.

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The tulip is a classic flower of love, although it was no longer considered a symbol of charity by the Victorians. The Turkish people were the first to cultivate the flower. To them, the tulip is a symbol of paradise on earth. They even introduced it in many religious poems, works, and secular art. The Ottoman Empire planted bulbs to remember the sky and eternal life. However, the Dutch, who popularized the flower, considered it a reminder of the brevity of life.

Different Colors and Meanings

Unlike other flowers, the meaning of the tulip varies greatly depending on its color. For example, yellow is the color of unrequited or rejected love. Sending a yellow tulip to someone means you love them, but you know they don’t like you in return.

On the one hand, bright red is the color of passion and perfect love. Do not send a bouquet of these flowers to a family member, as this will send the wrong message. On the other hand, purple is associated with royalty, but also abundance and prosperity. Besides, pink represents less intense affection and love and is, therefore, more suitable for friends or family.

Planting Tips 

You should plant tulip bulbs in your garden from October to December. Place them in the sun or a slightly shaded place, deep enough in good soil, but not too wet. You can also plant them in a pot or a planter.

Tulips do not require overly restrictive maintenance. Water them when the soil is dry and remember to remove the flowers once they have wilted.  Preserve the leaves as much as possible, which will ensure a new flowering the following year.

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For beautiful gardens, you can combine your tulips with other spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, hyacinths, and crocuses.

Plant them preferably in a protected location away from the wind, especially for the tallest varieties. Install your tulips in light, draining soil. They don’t like stagnant humidity, which can cause the bulbs to rot. If your soil is heavy, it will be necessary to deposit a layer of gravel.

Interesting Facts About the Flower

Did you know that the tulip is edible? Crunchy and slightly sweet, it goes well stuffed or in salads.

There are many evocations of the tulip in “Thousand and One Nights,” where it symbolizes love.

More traditionally, tulips are used as an ornamental flower. In the 17th century in Holland, we saw a real craze for the tulip development. The price of the tulip bulb has soared. A single bulb went up to be worth 15 times the annual salary of a craftsman.

In Holland, the Keukenhof floral park presents an exceptional collection of tulips and spring plants, with a total of more than 7 million bulbs.

The tulip is an easy-to-grow and undemanding plant. The bulbs are planted in autumn, in the sun, and preferably in a draining soil. They don’t like excess humidity, which could make them rot. You can also grow them in pots and make beautiful compositions by combining them with other spring bulbs. Botanical tulips are the least demanding. They can grow in rock, do not require maintenance, and can naturalize!