Flowers and herbs have been held in high regard since ancient times, when people first began associating flowers with symbols. Many flower meanings are derived from their individual traits. For example, the lotus, which grows along the muddy waters of the Nile, may lie dormant for many years during droughts, only to bloom again at the first hint of rain. Ancient Egyptians came to view the lotus as symbolizing resurrection and eternal life, and used it in burial rituals.
Victorians regarded the symbolism of flowers as a means of self-expression. Ardent suitors carefully considered the message they wanted to convey before selecting flowers for their intended love. Women carried handkerchiefs scented with a recognizable flower scent to evoke a certain image or feeling.
Today, flower symbolism is considered less frequently, with the exception of weddings and funerals. Below are the meanings of some popular flowers. The general meaning of each flower is given, although the meaning may change slightly or significantly, depending on the color of the blooms.
- Baby’s Breath: Pure of heart
- Calla lily: Magnificent beauty
- Camellia: Adoration, perfection, loveliness
- Carnation: Woman’s love
- Daisy: Beauty, innocence, loyalty
- Gerbera: Innocence
- Hyacinth: Consistency, joy, loveliness
- Hydrangea: Frigidity, heartlessness
- Lavender: Love, devotion
- Lilac: Youthful innocence, first love
- Lily: Purity, majesty and honor
- Lily of the Valley: Sweetness, happiness, humility
- Orchid: Love, refinement, many children
- Peony: Marital happiness
- Ranunculus: I am dazzled by your charm
- Rose: True love, remembrance, respect
- Stephanotis: Marital happiness
- Sunflower: Adoration
- Sweet pea: Farewell, blissful pleasure
- Tulip: Declaration of love
The Meaning of Flower Colors
Blue flowers bring to mind peacefulness, serenity and calm. Add blue iris, hydrangea, bluebells, foxglove or delphiniums to an arrangement for a soothing effect.
Red is energizing and symbolizes romantic love, courage, passion and strength. Common red flowers used in arrangements include roses, poppies, lilies and ranunculus.
Pink flowers symbolize youth, innocence, grace and joy, making them a perfect choice for a young woman’s bouquet. Make a charming bouquet from pink roses, peonies or camellias.
White flowers evoke modesty, innocence and simple elegance. Brides often choose white bouquets comprised of lily of the valley, calla lily, white roses or white peonies for an understated, but powerful effect.
Yellow flowers, such as sunflowers, tickseed, daffodils and black eyed Susan add a note of cheer to the dreariest day. Indeed, yellow flowers symbolize happiness, friendship and joy.
Orange is arresting and bright, denoting confidence and a zest for life. Make a focal point in a room with a bouquet of orange Oriental poppies or Asiatic lilies.
Green flowers are rare, although green foliage is often used to complement other flowers and symbolizes good fortune, health and resilience.
Lavender flowers are viewed as the most delicate and feminine of all flowers. A bouquet of fragrant lavender or lilacs adds a sweet scent to any room.
Although flower symbolism and colors don’t play an important part in modern culture, this fascinating tradition goes back thousands of years. Consider the message you are sending the next time you give someone a bouquet.