MEANING OF FLOWERS AND THEIR COLORS

“Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.” – Helen Keller

What does each flower symbolize? Which flowers represent love, hope, healing, loss, and good luck? See the Almanac’s complete list of Flower Meanings and Plant Symbolism. Whether you are picking out a flower bouquet for a wedding, choosing a single flower for a loved one, or planting a garden, discover the secret language of flowers!

 

The symbolic language of flowers has been recognized for centuries in many countries throughout Europe and Asia. They even play a large role in William Shakespeare’s works. Mythologies, folklore, sonnets, and plays of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese are peppered with flower and plant symbolism—and for good reason. Nearly every sentiment imaginable can be expressed with flowers. The orange blossom, for instance, means chastity, purity, and loveliness, while the red chrysanthemum means “I love you.”

 

Flowery Language of the Victorian Era

Learning the special symbolism of flowers became a popular pastime during the 1800s. Nearly all Victorian homes had, alongside the Bible, guidebooks for deciphering the “language,” although definitions shifted depending on the source.

 

In the Victorian era, flowers were primarily used to deliver messages that couldn’t be spoken aloud. In a sort of silent dialogue, flowers could be used to answer “yes” or “no” questions. A “yes” answer came in the form of flowers handed over with the right hand; if the left hand was used, the answer was “no.”

Plants could also express aversive feelings, such as the “conceit” of pomegranate or the “bitterness” of aloe. Similarly, if given a rose declaring “devotion” or an apple blossom showing “preference,” one might return to the suitor a yellow carnation to express “disdain.”

 

How flowers were presented and in what condition were important. If the flowers were given upside down, then the idea being conveyed was the opposite of what was traditionally meant. How the ribbon was tied said something, too: Tied to the left, the flowers’ symbolism applied to the giver, whereas tied to the right, the sentiment was in reference to the recipient. And, of course, a wilted bouquet delivered an obvious message!

More examples of plants and their associated human qualities during the Victorian era include bluebells and kindness, peonies and bashfulness, rosemary and remembrance, and tulips and passion. The meanings and traditions associated with flowers have certainly changed over time, and different cultures assign varying ideas to the same species, but the fascination with “perfumed words” persists just the same.

 

 

What Does Each Flower Symbolize?

See our list below for symbolic meanings of herbs, flowers, and other plants. (Please note: There are many meanings for flowers over the centuries; our chart below reflects mainly Victorian symbolism.)

 

Flower Meanings by Color

 

Flowers provided an incredibly nuanced form of communication. Some plants, including roses, poppies, and lilies, could express a wide range of emotions based on their color alone.

Take, for instance, all of the different meanings attributed to variously colored carnations: Pink meant “I’ll never forget you”; red said “my heart aches for you”; purple conveyed capriciousness; white was for the “the sweet and lovely”; and yellow expressed romantic rejection.

 

Likewise, a white violet meant “innocence,” while a purple violet said that the bouquet giver’s “thoughts were occupied with love.” A red rose was used to openly express feelings of love, while a red tulip was a confession of love. The calla lily was interpreted to mean “magnificent beauty,” and a clover said “think of me.”

Unsurprisingly, the color of the rose plays a huge role. Red roses symbolize love and desire, but roses come in a variety of colors and each has their own meaning.

 

What Wedding Flowers Mean

One tradition is to select the flowers of a wedding bouquet based on plant symbolism. As an example, look to the royal flower bouquet in the wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, to Kate Middleton (now Catherine, Ducchess of Cambridge). Her all-white bouquet had lily-of-the-valley (representing trustworthiness, purity), sweet William (gallantry), hyacinth (loveliness), myrtle (love in marriage), and ivy (continuity). Altogether, these flowers’ meanings reveal the hope of a loving, everlasting marriage.

The groom, too, wears a flower that appears in the bridal bouquet in his button-hole. This stems from the Medieval tradition of wearing his Lady’s colors, as a declaration of his love.

One fun modern idea is to give each bridesmaid a bouquet featuring a signature flower whose meaning suits

her personality. 

 

There is a language, little known,
Lovers claim it as their own.
Its symbols smile upon the land,
Wrought by nature’s wondrous hand;
And in their silent beauty speak,
Of life and joy, to those who seek
For Love Divine and sunny hours
In the language of the flowers.
–The Language of Flowers, London, 1875

 

 

 

Amaryllis        Dramatic

 

Anemone        Fragile

 

Apple Blossom       Promise

 

Aster        Contentment

 

Azalea        Abundance

 

Baby’s Breath        Festivity

 

Bachelor Button        Anticipation

 

Begonia        Deep Thoughts

 

Black-Eyed Susan        Encouragement

 

Camellia        Graciousness

 

Carnation       

  Pink        Gratitude
  Red        Flashy
  Striped        Refusal
  White        Remembrance
  Yellow        Cheerful

 

Chrysanthemum
  Bronze        Excitement
  White        Truth
  Red                Sharing
  Yellow        Secret Admirer

 

Cosmos        Peaceful

 

Crocus        Foresight

 

Daffodil        Chivalry

 

Delphinium        Boldness

 

Daisy        Innocence

 

Freesia        Spirited

 

Forget-Me-Not        Remember Me Forever

 

Gardenia        Joy

 

Geranium        Comfort

 

Ginger        Proud

 

Gladiolus        Strength of Character

 

Heather        Solitude

 

Hibiscus        Delicate Beauty

 

Holly        Domestic Happiness

 

Hyacinth        Sincerity

 

Hydrangea        Perseverance

 

Iris        Inspiration

 

Ivy        Fidelity

 

Jasmine        Grace & Elegance

 

Larkspur        Beautiful Spirit

 

Lilac        First Love

 

Lily
  Calla        Regal
  Casablanca       Celebration
  Day        Enthusiasm

 

Stargazer        Ambition

 

Lisianthus flower      Calming

 

Magnolia        Dignity

 

Marigold        Desire For Riches

 

Orange Blossom        Fertility

 

Orchid        Delicate Beauty

 

Pansy        Loving Thoughts

 

Passion Flower        Passion

 

Peony        Healing

 

Poppy        Consolation

 

Queen Anne’s Lace        Delicate Femininity

 

Ranunculus        Radiant

 

Rhododendron        Beware

 

Rose
  Pink        Admiration/Appreciation
  Red        Passionate Love
  Red & White        Unity
  White        Purity
  Yellow        Friendship

 

Snapdragon        Presumptuous

 

Star of Bethlehem        Hope

 

Stephanotis        Good Luck

 

Statice        Success

 

Sunflower        Adoration

Sweetpea        ShynessT

 

Tuberose        Pleasure

 

Tulip
  Pink        Caring
  Purple        Royalty
  Red         Declaration of Love
  White        Forgiveness
  Yellow       Hopelessly In Love
  Violet        Faithfulness
  Wisteria        Steadfast
  Yarrow        Good Health

 

 

Information by: https://www.almanac.com/content/flower-meanings-language-flowers

“If I had a flower for every time thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.” – Alfred Tennyson

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