Flowers, Bouquets, and their Meanings

No history of flowers is complete without finding out about the stories behind it. Because of that, we’re here to give you a run-through on flower meanings and various arrangements!

This crash course will help you understand the meanings behind both rare and popular blooms. Then, we consider the evolution of its position in ancient history.

In this article, we discuss a brief overview on the origins of flower meanings. After that, we discuss how it molded human behavior and culture across history.

Peaking in the Victorian times, flowers still take a big role in human communications. In fact, it takes a role in our relationships with friends and loved ones. Of course, people also saw its merit as a way to express one’s sentiment.

Flowers also remain vital to artistic works for their symbolic meanings. This involved legends in ancient mythologies and folklore. Later, this also involved sonnets, plays, and productions in the Renaissance period.

Interested in a formal track on floristry? Want to get qualified as an expert on everything flower related? We encourage looking into professional bodies and schools in floristry.

These include American Institute of Floral Designers of the AIFD (www.aifd.org), the Society of American Florists (www.safnow.org), the American Floral Endowment (www.endowment.org). You can also check out similar associations offering tracks in floristry.

Brief History on Flower Meanings

The language of flowers, from The Natural Wedding Company

Ever wonder about violets and their importance to Sapphic relationships? How about daisies and sunflowers and their popularity in friendly floral bouquets? Or the rise of roses to their status as a favorite flower?

Whatever it is, we’re here to help you. This guide will take you through the development of flower meanings throughout history.

Since its climax in the Victorian times, flowers have influenced the creation and retelling of many art forms. This included mythologies and legends in ancient civilizations. Later on, it showed up in plays written by world famous artists like William Shakespeare.

The Victorians were so into flower meanings that they created entire guidebooks for it. It was one way for people to make sure they got their bouquets and floral arrangements right.

Today, flowers hold the same significance in expressing one’s emotions. This of course, extends to showing sentiments to their special someones and loved ones.

Everyone knows the basics of the language of flowers. Red flowers, specifically roses, display your love and passion for that special someone. Yellow flowers symbolize friendship. White signifies purity and innocence. And so on, so forth.

But how complicated does it become?

Does the meaning evolve when mixed with other flowers, other colors, other arrangements? Does it matter if the assortment of flowers is a mix of various species or only one species? Does it matter if the arrangement leans towards the left, the right, or stands still and upright?

The short answer is, yes.

There are widely accepted meanings for each color. But there are more differences per color for various species.

Colors and Species

Flowers often mean nice things, like passion and affection. They can also just as easily show negative emotions such as conceit and disdain.

For example, red roses are a plain display of feelings for another. At the same time, red tulips are a love admission from one person to another.

Likewise, white violets meant innocence, but purple ones meant emotions of love. Pink carnations expressed “I’ll never forget you,” while pink roses meant poise and gentleness.

While calla lilies represented stunning beauty, peonies showed bashfulness, and tulips expressed passion.

Of course, even the presentation of these blooms and certain arrangements matter. Trust us, you’ll need it if you want to properly crack the meaning behind flower gifts.

Arrangement and Presentation

Flowers brought people a very delicate means of interaction.

Suitors used them when trying to charm the object of their affections. Friends made use of them to offer condolences to a grieving family. Now, people also send flowers to celebrate their loved ones’ birthdays and achievements.

We’ve discussed the various meanings that a species’ various colors may represent. Now, we take a closer look into the specifics of arrangement and presentation. We also learn how they may change or amplify the message that we wish to send.

Here is a good example. Suitors usually used tulips, carnations and roses to confess their love. Women replied one of two ways.

Some gave the suitor yellow carnations to express disdain and rejection. Some were more discreet and responded to their suitor with how they handed over a bouquet. Giving with the right hand said “yes”, while the left hand said “no”.

Additionally, the presentation and form of the bouquet added meaning to the gift. For instance – giving the arrangement upside down. This showed that the giver meant the reverse of what the flowers usually meant.

Another example is the direction of the ribbon binding the arrangement together. The meaning symbolized the giver if the ribbon pulled to the left. The symbolism symbolized the recipient if it went to the right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left: Language of Flowers, from Exquisite Banana; Right: What does your arrangement mean? From Pinterest

List of Flowers, Bouquets, and their Meanings

As we’ve learned, flower meanings have evolved and developed over time. Today, they remain vital in our relationships and how we express ourselves.

Here is a short compilation of various species and their meanings. This also includes variants from the colors they come in.

Aloe – bitterness, healing, protection
Amaryllis – worth beyond beauty
Angelica – inspiration
Anthurium – hospitality, abundance
Aster – love, daintiness
Begonia – beware, warning
Bird of Paradise – magnificence, joyfulness
Dahlia – dignity, pomp
Daisy – innocence, hope
Forget-me-not – memories of true love
Gardenia – secret love, purity
Gerbera – cheerfulness
Hydrangea – heartfelt emotions, gratitude, sometimes frigidity and heartlessness
Orchid – exotic beauty, mature charm, glorious femininity
Peony – bashfulness, compassion, sometimes shame and indignity
Sunflower – purity, adoration, dedication

Camellia
Red – “You’re a flame in my heart”
White – “You’re adorable”
Pink – “Longing for you”

Carnation
Red – love, pride, “my heart aches for you”
Pink – “I’ll never forget you”, mother’s love
Purple – capriciousness, erratic
Yellow – disdain, rejection
White – innocence, agape (unconditional love), “sweet and lovely”
Striped – refusal

Chrysanthemum
Red – love
White – truth, loyalty/fidelity
Yellow – jealousy, wounded love

Daffodil – rebirth, chivalry, eternal life
Single – misfortune
Bunch – joy and happiness

Hyacinth
Red or Pink – playfulness
Blue – constancy
White – loveliness
Purple – sorrow
Yellow – jealousy, infidelity

Iris
Purple – wisdom, compliments
Blue – faith, hope
Yellow – passion
White – purity

Lilac
Field – charity
White – humility, youthful innocence
Purple – first love

Lily
Lily of the Valley – sweetness, purity of heart
Easter – Virgin Mary
White – modesty, chastity
Yellow – gaiety
Orange – passion

Rose
White – purity, innocence, a fresh start
Red – passion, “I love you”
Deep crimson- mourning
Pink – grace and gentleness
Yellow – jealousy and infidelity
Orange – desire, enthusiasm
Lavender – love at first sight
Coral pink – friendship, sympathy

Tulip
Red – passion, declaration of love
Yellow – “There’s sunshine in your smile”

Violet
White – innocence
Purple – love, affection

From Beautiful Flowers PICT

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash