A critical challenge in the field of phosphor converted white light emitting diodes (pc-WLEDs) pertains to understanding and controlling the variation of emission color with device temperature. Here we, through a combined photoluminescence (PL) and Raman spectroscopy study of the three garnet type phosphors Ce3+-doped Y3Al5O12 (YAG:Ce3+), Ca3Sc2Si3O12 (CSS:Ce3+), and Sr3Y2Ge3O12 (SYG:Ce3+), show that the color of the PL is systematically shifted upon changing the operation temperature of the phosphor. A general trend is observed that the PL exhibits a red-shift as a function of increasing temperature, until the point at which the vibrational modes of the CeO8 moieties, which induce dynamical tetragonal distortions of the CeO8 dodecahedra, are fully activated. Upon further temperature increase, the PL turns to a blue-shift because of a counteracting and predominating effect of thermal lattice expansion that progressively makes the CeO8 dodecahedra more cubal like. Since this behavior is the result of the symmetry relations intrinsic to the garnet structure, the present mechanism can be generally applicable to materials of this type. It thereby provides a route for tuning the PL of this important class of phosphor materials.