Tulips - The history and what your favourite colour of tulip really means.

Passionate love or Platonic Love. An Apology or Good Luck token. Wedding day or First date. Make sure you get it right this Spring with this guide on true colour meanings of tulips.

In the 1500s, tulips were largely cultivated in Turkey and get their name from their likeness of a “tulbend” — a turban worn by Turkish men — and became known as tulipan! If you gave someone a tulip in the sixteenth century, you were giving them a fortune. In those days the flower was incredibly popular and a speculative trade in tulip bulbs developed. You could buy a whole canal house in Amsterdam for the price of one tulip bulb!

In the wild, tulips can be found from North Africa and Southern Europe across to north-west China, with the greatest diversity in three mountain ranges in Central Asia: the Pamir, the Tian Shan and the Hindu Kush. The climate here is ideal for tulips, with its cold winters, long springs with cold nights and dry summers.

Although tulips traditionally were an exotic flower, Holland started cultivating them 400 years ago. Today they are grown in volume in the Netherlands. The Dutch grow nine billion tulips every year for the cut flower market, exporting two thirds over seas.

Dutch Tulip Fields

Here at Wild & Wondrous Flowers we try to buy them from even closer to home. The majority our tulips in store are grown in Lincolnshire. The first commercial bulb plot recorded in Lincolnshire was back in 1907. The market grew over the twentieth century peaking in 1985 when around 2000 acres of tulip bulbs were being cultivated. Unfortunately, there was a rapid decline in the following decade resulting in only 1000 acres in 1999. This was due to Dutch imports and economic factors. In recent years there has been a British flower revival. Today the largest British tulip growers are Smith & Munson a family run farm in Lincolnshire specialising in tulip and lily growing.

Smith & Munson Tulip Farm


The Language of Flowers

Red Tulips

“As the redness of this flower, I am on fire with love.” Red tulips symbolise you are deeply in love, and evokes passion and romance. Tulips are also the flower associated with the 11th wedding anniversary; the perfect choice to profess your love, or celebrate over a decade together.

Bucket of Love

Pink Tulips

This tulip is a symbol of caring, attachment - not as strong as love however - and good wishes. They would be appropriate for a friend or family member when congratulating a new job, or wishing someone good luck.

White Tulips

Representing purity, innocence, forgiveness and respect, white tulips would be a great flower to give with an apology or for a wedding. Cream coloured tulips are closely related and have a meaning of commitment.

Purple Tulips

Purple symbolises royalty as it does in many different contexts, therefore this colour is often used for brides bouquets on their big day. Let her know she's your queen with purple tulips. Purple also symbolises rebirth, the perfect symbol for spring!

Yellow Tulips

Their meaning has evolved over time from representing jealousy and hopeless love, but modern interpretation of yellow tulips has a more positive meaning of hope, brightness and sunshine, perfect for smiling, happy occasions. Give a yellow tulip bouquet to a good friend as it also is the colour of friendship.

Multi-coloured Tulips

Multi-hued tulips can be used to express a message to someone special; striped tulips are said to symbolise a lover’s beautiful eyes, as are tulips with blotched, multicoloured petals. The dark base inside the flower is said to symbolise passion, making the perfect date flower.

Spring Bouquet

Can’t choose a colour, meaning or occasion? Not to worry, a tulip bouquet made of multiple colours represents elegance and grace in the language of flowers.


With these care tips you can enjoy your tulips for up to 12 days:

• Select a clean vase that’s tall enough: tulips will continue growing a few centimetres.

• Add cut flower food to the water for a longer vase life.

• Use tap water at room temperature.

• Trim the stems diagonally with a clean and sharp knife or secateurs.

• Place the vase in a cool spot away from the fruit bowl and not in the sun.

• Tulips drink a lot, so regularly top the vase up with tap water. • If your tulips go floppy re-cut the stems and place in fresh clean water and they should stand up again.