There’s symbolism behind most things in life. If you give someone a ring, it means commitment. If you give them a heart, it symbolizes love. Feeling blue is different from being tickled pink. Likewise, flowers and their colors traditionally mean different things when given as a gift.
In Victorian times, when men and women couldn’t always express their feelings in public, flowers, notes and handkerchief signals often expressed much more. People were much more aware of the symbolism of flowers, while today anything but the meaning of the color and the idea of matching flowers with the season (like tulips in spring) has more or less faded away in American and British culture.
To look at the meaning of flowers, I chose—save the colors—to go with what the Society of American Florists has discovered from research into old meanings. Among other sources, they used the fictional book The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, who put together her own dictionary after researching flower dictionaries from back in the day.
I also had a look at The Flower Expert, where I found a hilarious explanation of the symbolism for a garden rose. Apparently it means, “I am from Mars.” I’m wondering if they read through what they wrote as it could be a spellcheck mistake? Then again, if you’re an alien it makes perfect sense that a garden rose from the gardens of Earth would mean you are from Mars, doesn’t it?
So, let’s have a look at secret flower meanings and what they symbolize.
Roses and Their Colors
Roses are often associated with love, but they symbolize different things depending on their color. Even today, people are aware roses of different colors have different meanings—so much so, in fact, that I personally thought the different colors applied to all flowers. However, looking into it further, these colors don’t necessarily mean the same thing when the flowers are different.
- Pink—admiration and/or appreciation
- White—innocence and purity
- Red—deep/passionate love
- Red and white—unity
- Orange—passion and energy (mix them with some red ones and you’ll have quite the fire bouquet!)
Tulips and Their Colors
Personally, I consider tulips to be the number one spring flower, and associate them with Easter and rebirth: the dawn of life. As it turns out though, tulips also have their own symbolism woven into their coloring.
- Red—declaration of love
- Yellow—hopelessly in love
Your Faithfulness in Flowers
Want to tell someone you are faithful and steadfast? Then, you’ll want to combine violets with wisteria: violets signify faithfulness and wisteria are steadfast. Ivy also stands for fidelity, so you could add that too.
If You’re Thinking of Someone Who is Healing
Zinnia represents thoughts of friends, while yarrow signifies good health. Combine the two and you have the perfect bouquet for someone recovering from illness or surgery. Peony is another flower associated with healing.
The Job Interview
Are you praying for someone to have good luck? Maybe they have a job interview or an exam, are about to take their driver’s license or similar. In that case, you will want to combine the Star of Bethlehem with stephanotis and statice. The first represents hope, the second luck and the third success.
Do you adore a friend or lover? Give them a bouquet of sunflowers. Naturally, we also associate sunflowers with the sun, a sunny disposition and happiness due to their name.
Pleasure in Any Measure
Want to show someone how much pleasure they bring you? Get them some tuberose. If you want to combine it with passion, add some passion flowers to the bouquet.
A Shy Declaration of Love
If you are shy but would still like to declare your love, combine sweetpeas with something that signifies love, like red roses or tulips.
For a Beautiful Spirit
If someone is a beautiful spirit, give them some larkspur. To combine it with grace and elegance, add some jasmine too.
Is someone looking for the next big thing? Are they working hard on a project? Launching a business? Then iris will bring them inspiration and hydrangeas the perseverance they’re likely to need.
For the Warrior
If someone is bold and has strength of character to boot, you’ll want to combine delphinium with gladiolas.
You can have a lot of fun with the symbolism of flowers. The only trouble is that people might not have a flower dictionary in front of them when they receive your flowers and various flowers have symbolized different things through the ages.
Therefore, you will want to include a little poem, or rhyme, about the different flowers, a flower dictionary or a link to a dictionary. Alternatively, you can send other clues throughout the space of a week, such as other symbols, notes and riddles.
If you want to be certain someone understands the meaning of your chosen flowers without the use of additional clues, stick to roses. Most people associate red roses with love, yellow ones with friendship and white ones with innocence, purity or peace.