Tulips vs. Roses

Spring has officially sprung, and those of you looking to decorate your homes and lives with beautiful spring flowers have some hard choices to make. While having to decide what flowers to buy and which to leave aside is a pretty nice problem to have, we still think the question demands careful thought: which spring flowers are the best to have around?

In our experience, two standouts clear the field quite easily, both in terms of popularity and versatility: the tulip and the rose. We’re not saying that you need to declare undying loyalty to one or the other, but we at Venus ET Fleur® also believe in healthy competition, so we’ve decided to write up this detailed comparison between these two beloved blooms.

Before you jump up and accuse us of being biased—yes, we freely admit that roses are our specialty. But for the purposes of this article, we pledge ourselves to a full and fair report and will be sticking to the facts and nothing but the facts.

With these limits firmly imposed, let’s begin our survey of this matchup of all matchups: the tulip versus the rose.

The Basics—History and Genealogy

It is worthy to note that roses and tulips both originated in Asia—roses in China, where they were also first cultivated by humans. The first-cultivated roses are believed to date back to China around the year 500 BCE, where the imperial rose garden was reputedly a sight to behold.

Tulips are believed to have originated in Central Asia, though their first known cultivation by human hands took place in Turkey around the year 1000CE. By the 16th century, they were a wildly popular commodity, and there is even a point in Turkish history, from 1718-1730, known as the “Tulip Period.” This is because Ottoman authorities were beginning to open up trade and travel with Western Europe, which was symbolized by this radiant flower.

Even before the Tulip Period, however, this graceful flower generated huge demand across the civilized world. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Netherlands, where tulip trading and speculation were so profitable in 1636 that it resulted in a small but notable financial crisis when imports from Turkey couldn’t pass muster and the bubble burst. Modern historians now refer to this phenomenon as “Tulip Mania.”

Over the centuries, both flowers have benefited from advancements in cultivation and hybridization. Roses and tulips are now available in an impressive array of colors and varieties.

Growing Your Own

Both of these noble blooms can be grown from the comfort of your home garden, though they require quite different conditions and patterns of maintenance.

Roses thrive in the warmest and sunniest conditions, though home growers would do well to plant their rose bushes somewhere where they will get a little bit of shade each day. Most commercial roses are grown in Ecuador, where close proximity to the equator allows these flowers to bloom continuously through the year.

Seasoned gardeners will know that rose bushes are a bit more finicky than tulip bulbs and require a bit more maintenance in order to thrive. That said, fresh rose blooms are well worth the trouble.

What’s interesting about tulips is that you actually want to plant them in mid-autumn and allow their bulbs to lie in the soil through the wintertime. These curious flowers require a season of frost in order to know that it’s time to emerge from the soil come springtime. What this means is that they require climates with somewhat cold winters. Although tulips are technically perennial flowers, to a gardener in South America, or even the American South, they’re annuals!

Despite these peculiarities, tulips are noticeably lower maintenance than roses when it comes to growing your own, not to mention the added bonus of not having thorns. This round goes to the tulip.


Here is another area in which the tulip has a slight edge. Thanks to their lower maintenance requirements and more orderly growing pattern (search “tulip fields” online to see what we’re talking about), tulip farming demands lower overhead costs, which gets passed down to the consumer at market.

Thankfully, however, this cost difference is rather marginal. Most times of the year, the price of a dozen roses vs. a dozen tulips is about the same, with roses skewing a little bit higher.


Now we move into the realm of the subjective, but for good reason. Arguably the most important aspect of any flower is the sweetness and strength of its natural perfume. How to arrive at a decision here in this article? Try as we might to describe each one, we hope you will sympathize with the author, in that smell is rather difficult to put into words.

Here the reader is advised to pick up one—or a dozen, or twelve dozen—of each of these lovely flowers, and practice an at-home sniff test.

The good news is that both these flowers smell incredible. Really. We cannot get enough of either scent of these radiant blooms, and a bouquet of each will transform any room into a perfumed paradise.

However, we must admit that the rose’s tell-tale scent is more distinctive than that of the tulip. This conclusion was arrived at not only with our own nose, but by the simple multiplicity of rose-scented products, perfumes, soaps, salves, lotions and balms. This doesn’t mean that the rose smells objectively better than the tulip, merely that the fragrance of this classically red flower has a hold on our cultural imagination.

To state it simply: you’ll never confuse the scent of roses for anything else. Can the same be said for tulips?

Cultural Impact

As discussed, each of these flowers has a significant history, and they both have intense symbolic meaning. 


We’ve touched upon the “Tulip Mania” crisis of the 17th century, which, while admittedly interesting, was the only notable instance of the tulip’s influence on historical events we could find.

On the other hand, you have the Wars of the Roses, which racked and divided England for over thirty years in the 15th century. While not directly responsible for this civil unrest, the rose served as a symbol for the divided loyalties of its ruling class. Supporters of the rebellious House of York donned white roses in their caps and lapels to publicly signify their allegiance to friend and foe. This was done in opposition to King Henry VI, whose symbol was the red rose, and whose supporters began donning real red roses to counterpose the brazen rebels.

These days, wearing a white rose signifies nothing more dangerous than the fact that you’re about to attend junior prom. However, the cultural impacts of these wars live on, from the history plays of Shakespeare to the classic 1989 black comedy War of the Roses, directed by Danny DeVito.


This category hardly seems fair—while “Tip Toe Thru’ the Tulips” remains an undeniable hit, the number of songs with “rose” in the title practically outnumbers stars in the firmament.

Just off the top of our heads: Kiss from a Rose, Love is a Rose, Red is the Rose, Last Rose of Summer, La Vie en Rose, and of course…

Common Expressions

… Every Rose has its Thorn.

This is where the rose has the tulip down for the count. When was the last time someone advised you to “stop and smell the tulips”?

We can’t say for an absolute certainty why the rose has had such a potent cultural legacy that continues to this day. But whatever it is, this radiant, red bloom has captured the hearts and imaginations of people for hundreds of years.

Real Roses That Last a Year® from Venus ET Fleur

For whatever reason, everyone loves the delightful scent of roses in their home. Something about the fragrance evokes special feelings from practically everyone who encounters them. At Venus ET Fleur, we take pride in our unique Eternity® Roses, which are full of that wonderful fragrance that you love so much about roses, which, best of all, allow you to enjoy it for months on end as opposed to other rose bouquets.

These real roses are sourced from the lush, vibrant field of Ecuador, plucked at the peak of their bloom, then treated with a proprietary solution that allows them to keep for an entire year when treated with the proper care. Following this, our roses are dyed any number of vibrant colors, from classic red to unique lavender, and so many more! We urge you to check out all we have to offer.

Final Remarks

Okay, you got us—we’re partial to roses. But we have room in our hearts for two flowers, and we know you do too. Although the rose is our undeniable favorite here at Venus ET Fleur, it also doesn’t really need our help. The lasting cultural impact of the rose as a symbol, combined with the unmistakable character of its fragrance, make the rose a truly powerful flower.

We hope this article has taught you a thing or two you didn’t know before and has helped you to appreciate the natural beauty of both roses and tulips.



The Real Story Behind the 17th Century “Tulip Mania” Financial Crash | History

Roses with Altitude: Why Ecuador’s flower industry stands out | Financial Times

Tulip Care and Tulip Planting | Gardening Know How