Tulip Colors: What Colors Do Tulip Flowers Bloom?

Are you thinking of planting some tulips in your garden this season, but aren't sure what colors their flowers bloom? Tulips come in a wide variety of different shapes and colors to pick from, so picking just one can be a difficult task. In this article, certified master gardener Liz Jaros looks at all the different colors tulips bloom in.

tulip colors

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Popping up in residential and commercial landscapes all over the world each spring, tulips come in shades of red, purple, pink, yellow, orange, and white. Recent hybridization has even produced some varieties that are close to true blue, which is the most sought-after flower color in ornamental horticulture.

Originally a sign of disease, multicolor tulips have also been tweaked and coaxed into a whole range of contemporary offerings. Now perfectly healthy and ever-expanding, this color group thrills and wows in a kaleidoscope of varieties.

Tulips are generally perennial in zones 3-8, meaning you can leave them in the ground after planting and they will return next year (and possibly for several years after that). In warmer and cooler zones, they should be treated like annuals, meaning you can plant them in spring and dispose of them after flowering is complete.

To give you a better idea of the tulip’s colorful potential and its many possibilities for your own landscape, we’re offering a detailed look at some of our favorite types of tulips, grouped by their dominant hues.

Red

Universally associated with love, red is the color of passion and romance. It can be traditional and enduring, or violent and impulsive, depending on the context and application.

In the garden, red is typically dominant and a bit louder than many of its peers on the rainbow. It demands the spotlight and catches your eye. And it often serves as the starting point for a primary color palette.

Use simple red tulips en masse for a field of classic beauty swaying in the spring breeze. Or plant a more complex variety near the front door for an eye-catching introduction to your home.

‘Van Eijk’

A close-up of many blooming 'Van Eijk' tulips in a field surrounded by dark green foliage. The buds are strong, cup-shaped, consist of oblong, rounded crimson-colored petals with fuchsia-colored spots. The stems are tall and strong with two dark green large, smooth leaves at the base.
‘Van Eijk’ are gorgeous crimson tulips with fuchsia spots.

Petals are predominantly crimson with splotches of fuschia on this Darwin Hybrid tulip. Van Eijk can reach heights of 18-22 inches atop very sturdy stems and blooms in mid spring. This cultivar is also grown in several other colors, should you wish to mix and match for a rainbow effect.

‘Red Proud’

Blooming Tulip 'Red Proud' in full sun against a backdrop of green foliage. The tulip is large, bell-shaped, has scarlet petals with scalloped edges.
‘Red Proud’ blooms in late spring with delightful scarlet flowers with scalloped edges.

This variety stands tall at around 20 inches and sports 5-inch, bell shaped blooms in late spring. Petals are scarlet in color and scalloped at the edges. Red Proud stands tall in foul weather and is a good choice for rainy regions.

‘Valery Gergiev’

Close-up of many blooming tulips ‘Valery Gergiev’ in the garden. The flowers are large, goblet-shaped, have velvety red petals with sheared outer edges.
‘Valery Gergiev’ is an incredibly beautiful variety of red tulips with sheared outer edges.

A Fringed group tulip that tops out at 16-18 inches, this cultivar has velvety red petals tinged with burgundy and sheared, outer margins. Stems are blue gray and foliage is ovate. Valery Gergiev blooms in late spring and requires some protection from hot afternoon rays.

Purple

An enduring symbol of royalty and wealth, purple elicits feelings of elegance wherever it is encountered in the landscape. It can also be powerful and magical, depending on its companions and design elements.

Purple tulips can range in intensity from the palest lilac to the deepest, darkest plum. Their blooms can be anything from a traditional goblet shape with simple petals to a wild, Parrot form with exotic, feathered edges

‘Purple Flag’

Flowering buds of Tulipa 'Purple Flag' against green blurred background. The buds are large, cupped, with purple petals of a simple shape with a satin finish.
‘Purple Flag’ produces beautiful purple flowers with a satin finish that bloom in mid-spring.

Cup-shaped blooms on this Triumph category tulip have royal purple, single-form petals with a satin finish. Maxing out at up to 18 inches, Purple Flag blooms in mid to late spring and lasts a long time after cutting.

‘Arabian Mystery’

Top view of blooming 'Arabian Mystery' tulips surrounded by large, smooth, grey-green leaves with tapered margins. The buds are large, goblet-shaped, with purple petals and creamy white edges.
‘Arabian Mystery’ has goblet purple flowers with creamy white margins.

Petals are a violet shade of purple with creamy white edges on this showy tulip cultivar. Blooms are simple and goblet-shaped, perched atop 16-18 inch stems that are strong and upright in late spring. Arabian Mystery pairs well with off-white and golden yellow spring bloomers.

‘Cafe Noir’

Blooming 'Cafe Noir' tulips in the form of a bush in the garden against a blurred background of blooming yellow-red tulips. The buds are large, oblong, goblet-shaped, have chocolate-purple petals with darker edges.
‘Cafe Noir’ produces dark purple tulips that bloom in late spring.

One of the darkest tulips on the market, this chocolate-purple cultivar appears almost black after sundown. Blooming in late spring, Cafe Noir opens completely during the day into a single ray shape with long petals and prominent bright anthers. It does not always return in subsequent years, so use it only for plantings intended to be annual.

Pink

Selected for occasions when congratulations or well wishes are in order, the color pink is a well-known symbol of caring. It can also be romantic and childish, depending on its application.

In the spring garden, pink tulips represent new life and a cause for celebration, as they mark the onset of a new growing season. Ranging in tone from blush to magenta, pink can have a lot of distinct personalities, especially in tulip form.

‘Albert Heijn’

Blooming 'Albert Heijn' tulips surrounded by blue-green leaves. The flowers are large, ovoid, have soft pink petals with a corrugated paper texture, and slightly arching outward ends. The outer petals have a shade of purple glow.
‘Albert Heijn’ produces gorgeous delicate pink flowers with crepe paper textured petals.

This early blooming tulip has soft, ballet slipper pink blooms with petals the texture of crepe paper and a classic egg shape. With a mature height of 12-18 inches, Albert Heijn makes a fine addition to the front of a mixed border. Pair it with other pastels for a subtle, watercolor palette.

‘Design Impression’

Field of blooming tulips ‘Design Impression’. Tulips have goblet flowers on long, sturdy stems with large, oval, smooth, dark green and variegated foliage with creamy white edges. The petals are rosy-pink in color with a salmon hue.
‘Design Impression’ have salmon pink flowers and variegated foliage.

Oversized blooms on this Darwyn Hybrid tulip feature rose pink petals with flushes of salmon. Stems are long and strong at 20-24 inches, and foliage is variegated with creamy white edges. Known for being an exceptionally long bloomer, this one will dazzle in the yard or vase for up to 4 weeks.

‘Sweet Sixteen’

Close-up of 'Sweet Sixteen' tulips in bloom. The buds are fully open, cup-shaped, consisting of 6 oblong oval petals, twisted outward, which surround a green carpel and 6 black-yellow stamens.
‘Sweet Sixteen’ has incredibly bubblegum pink flowers and bright green wavy foliage.

A Fosteriana tulip with bubblegum pink flowers that resemble magnolia blossoms, Sweet Sixteen fades to a sweet pale blush as it ages. Maxing out at 12 inches, this cultivar is a good choice for the front of a mixed border. Foliage is vivid green and ruffled.

Yellow

Widely accepted as a symbol of the sun, the color yellow is also known for being cheerful and optimistic. In the landscape, yellow flowers wake up the senses and warm up the yard. And they coordinate nicely with just about every other color in the spectrum.

In floral design, yellow tulips are often selected to represent friendship and/or ‘thinking of you’ situations. In tulip form, they represent the coming of warmer days and a new season of growth.

‘Freeman’

Blooming 'Freeman' tulips in the garden. Cup-shaped, large, double flowers, composed of many layers of rounded bright golden yellow petals with a red blush near the midrib. There are also green stripes on some of the outer petals.
‘Freeman’ produces lush, peony-shaped, multi-layered golden yellow flowers with a red blush.

This peony-style tulip has multi-layered, double blooms that open in late spring. Petals are a rich, golden yellow with flushes of red near the midrib. Some green streaking may be present on lower sepals. Stems are modest at roughly 12 inches. This cultivar is highly fragrant and lasts a long time in a vase.

‘Montreux’

Top view, close-up of a large blooming tulip 'Montreux'. Large, peony-shaped, double flower with many layers of creamy yellow petals, with a slight white tint on the middle petals.
‘Montreux’ is an incredibly creamy tulip variety producing double large flowers with red flecks on the outer petals.

Buttercream yellow with red speckling on outer petals, Montreux’s large blooms resemble roses and droop romantically on top of 16 inch stems. Leaves are slender and curl upward, creating a spiky contrast to the soft, delicate flowers.

‘Altaica’

Close-up of a short yellow tulip ‘Altaica’ against a blurred background of brown branches and grass. The star-shaped flower is medium in size, has lemon-yellow petals with curled edges. Orange-yellow stamens stick out from the center of the flower.
‘Altaica’ blooms with cheerful star-shaped bright yellow flowers.

Modest in height at 6-10 inches, Altaica has star-shaped, lemon yellow flowers with petals that curl back at the edges. Foliage is thin and lays close to the ground. This variety spreads easily and is a good choice for naturalizing wooded areas.

Orange

Similar to yellow in personality and symbolism, the color orange typically represents warmth and appreciation in the language of flowers. It can also represent joy and good fortune.

While not a color we typically associate with tulips, orange can be found in dozens of cultivars on the market. Its impact on the spring landscape can vary, depending on its intensity. And its pairings with other spring bloomers can be either contrasting or complementary.

‘Brisbane’

Blooming Tulip 'Brisbane' in a sunny garden. The flower is large, double, peony-shaped, multi-layered, has rounded petals with shades of orange and yellow with serrated edges.
This incredibly vibrant tulip has hints of apricot, melon and tangerine with ruffled serrated edges on the petals.

Shades of melon, apricot, and tangerine intermingle on this lively, double flower tulip. Like all Fringed category cultivars, Brisbane features serrated petal margins that appear crystalline under the bright sun. Reaching heights of about 18 inches, this cultivar turns heads wherever it’s planted.

‘Monte Orange’

A close-up of an incredibly beautiful 'Monte Orange' tulip against a blurred green background with orange tulips in bloom. A double, peony, cupped, carrot-orange flower with coral feathers on the outer petals.
‘Monte Orange’ produces double carrot-orange flowers with coral feathering.

This Double Early tulip stands about 16 inches high and has 4-inch, double flower blooms that resemble peonies. Petals are mostly carrot-orange but have coral feathering throughout. Monte blooms in mid spring and has ruffled, sage green leaves that are slightly incurved.

‘Shogun’

Top view, close-up of 'Shogun' tulips blooming in the sun against bright green foliage. The flowers are lily-shaped, with peach-colored reflex petals that curve outwards. Black stamens and dark green carpels in the center of the flowers.
‘Shogun’ is a short cultivar with peach-colored, star-shaped flowers.

Short in stature at 10-12 inches, this cultivar features star-shaped blooms with peach-colored, reflexive petals that arch outward like a lily. Flowers do not extend much above stems, while gray-green foliage creates a soft carpet beneath them. As a Botanical tulip, Shogun descends from wild lineage and will spread easily.

White

Associated with sympathy, spirituality and purity, white tulips can elicit a broad array of feelings in a bouquet or in the landscape. Equally, as appropriate in a funeral arrangement as they are in a wedding procession, white tulips are diverse and multi-faceted.

A simple grouping of classic white tulips can have a peaceful, calming effect in the garden or serve as a backdrop for other, more flamboyant tulip cultivars. It can be used as an accent or as the primary palette in an all-white cottage garden.

‘White Triumphator’

Top view, close-up of blooming white tulips 'White Triumphator' against a blurred background of green foliage in a garden. The flowers are large, hourglass-shaped, have snow-white petals with curved and pointed tips. The flowers are open, revealing pale yellow stamens and carpels.
‘White Triumphator’ produces white flowers with pointed and curved petal tips.

A lily-flowering tulip with an hourglass figure and arching petal tips, White Triumphator features pointed, snow white petals that open in the sunshine to reveal a pale yellow base. Stems are long and strong, holding up to high winds in the late spring garden. This cultivar needs full sun but thrives with a little relief from hot afternoon rays.

‘Purissima’

Blooming white tulips 'Purissima' in dappled sun against a blurred green background. Large, cupped flowers with creamy white petals tinged with yellow at the base. The leaves are large, bright green, smooth with parallel veins and narrowed tips.
‘Purissima’ has cupped creamy white flowers with a yellow tinge at the base.

Delightfully simple with cup-shaped blooms and a sweet personality, Purissima features creamy white petals tinged with pink at their tips and yellow at their bases. Flower widths are up to 5 inches wide on this early blooming, Fosteriana group tulip, and stems average 14-16 inches in length.

‘Exotic Emperor’

Close-up of blooming white 'Exotic Emperor' tulips against dark green, greyish foliage. Double, peony, creamy white cupped flowers. Tulips have delicate creamy yellow outer petals with green veins.
‘Exotic Emperor’ produces white peony flowers with delicate creamy green outer petals.

With large, peony-shaped blooms in shades of warm white, Exotic Emperor is soft and romantic in profile. Petals are flamed with green streaks, which gives them even more character in the early spring garden. Stems are thick, strong, and supportive. When cared for properly, this cultivar will return faithfully for many years to come.

Multicolor

If you’re having trouble settling on a single color palette for your spring garden or looking for something that’s a little more maximalist in style, there’s a rainbow of multicolor tulips to consider. In most tulip classifications, you’ll find something exceptional or exotic to suit your technicolor fancy.

‘Double Ice Cream’

Blooming Tulip 'Double Ice Cream' against a background of blurred green foliage. The flower consists of cup-shaped outer green petals with bright crimson edges surrounding a compact mass of white petals in the center of the flower.
‘Double Ice Cream’ are cupped, double-layered tulips reminiscent of raspberry ice cream with a vanilla scoop on top.

Blooms on this double peony form tulip never completely open and resemble a three-part ice cream sundae. Lower petals are green at their centers with pink margins and shaped like a bowl. Middle petals are the color of raspberry sauce, and a compact mass of white petals present like a vanilla scoop on top. Blooming in late spring atop 16-inch stems, Double Ice Cream is a guaranteed showstopper.

‘Monsella’

Close-up of 'Monsella' tulips in bloom against a blurred background. The flowers are large, cup-shaped, open, consisting of slightly ruffled canary-yellow petals covered with bright red veins. Golden yellow stamens and carpels protrude from the center of the flowers. Some flowers are wilted.
‘Monsella’ produces canary-yellow flowers veined with bright red.

Each stem on this multi-color, early-spring bloomer produces three flowers. Petals are canary yellow with streaks of fire engine red and measure up to 6 inches wide. Typical of all Double Early tulips, Monsella is short in stature at less than 12 inches and lasts a long time after cutting.

‘Parrot King’

Close-up of many blooming 'Parrot King' tulips surrounded by blue-green large foliage. The flowers are dense, goblet-shaped, have fringed, twisted petals of different shades of orange, yellow, green and pink over the entire surface of the petals.
‘Parrot King’ is an incredible multi-colored tulip variety that produces beautiful bright flowers with fringed, twisted petals.

Like a tie-dyed t-shirt with orange, gold, rose and green colors blending beautifully on each fringed, twisted petal, Parrot King is a stand-alone variety that commands attention wherever it is planted. Early buds are green and striking, even before blooms open, giving this cultivar a particularly long period of appreciation in the landscape.

Final Thoughts

When selecting a color palette for your tulip garden, you’ll want to take note of other spring bloomers you have in your yard and choose varieties that will work with their color and character. You should also take your home’s architecture, exterior materials, and front door color into consideration.

Decide if you’re leaning toward subtle pastels or bold primary hues and make sure your intensity is consistent. With so many colors and cultivars to choose from, you’re sure to find something that moves you and works with your plan.

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