Flowers, Bouquets, and their Meanings
No history of flowers is complete without learning about the stories behind it. Given that, we’re here to give you a rundown on flower meanings and different arrangements!
This crash course will help you learn the meanings behind both popular and rare blooms. Then, we consider the development of its position in ancient history.
In this article, we cover a quick overview on the origins of flower meanings. Later, we talk about how it shaped human behavior and culture across history.
Peaking in the Victorian period, flowers still play a large role in human communications. In fact, it has a role in our relationships with friends and special someones. Of course, people also saw its value as a way to express one’s sentiment.
Flowers also remain significant to artistic works for their symbolic meanings. This included legends in ancient mythologies and folklore. Eventually, this also included sonnets, plays, and productions in the Renaissance era.
Interested in a formal course on floristry? Want to get certified as an expert on everything flower related? We suggest 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 look at similar institutions 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 climb of roses to their standing as a favorite flower?
Whatever it is, we’re here to help you. This overview will take you through the development of flower meanings throughout history.
Since its climax in the Victorian era, flowers have influenced the production and retelling of many art forms. This consisted of mythologies and legends in ancient cultures. Later, it turned up in plays authored by world famous artists like William Shakespeare.
In fact, the Victorians were so into flower meanings that they made entire handbooks for it. It was one way for people to make sure they got their bouquets and flower arrangements right.
Today, flowers hold the same importance in expressing one’s emotions. This of course, extends to showing sentiments to their significant others and loved ones.
Everyone has an idea of the basics of the language of flowers. Red flowers, particularly roses, display your love and passion for that special someone. Yellow flowers signify friendship. White signifies purity and innocence. And so on, so forth.
But how sophisticated does it get?
Does the meaning evolve when put together with other flowers, other colors, other arrangements? Does it matter if the variety of flowers is a mix of different 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 generally accepted meanings for each color. But there are further differences to each color for various species.
Colors and Species
Flowers often mean nice things, like passion and affection. But they can also just as easily represent negative emotions like conceit and disdain.
For instance, red roses are a clear display of feelings for another. At the same time, red tulips are a love confession from one person to another.
In the same way, white violets meant innocence, but purple ones meant emotions of love. Pink carnations said “I’ll never forget you,” while pink roses meant poise and gentleness.
While calla lilies signified magnificent beauty, peonies showed bashfulness, and tulips showed passion.
Of course, even the presentation of these flowers and specific arrangements matter. Trust us, you’ll need it if you want to properly crack the meaning behind flower gifts.
Arrangement and Presentation
Flowers provided people a very delicate means of communicating.
Suitors used them when trying to woo the object of their affections. Friends made use of them to offer condolences to a mourning family. Now, people also give flowers to celebrate their loved ones’ birthdays and achievements.
We’ve talked about the various meanings that a species’ various colors may express. Now, we take a closer look into the specifics of arrangement and presentation. We also discover how they may change or amplify the message that we would like to send.
Here is a great example. Suitors usually made use of tulips, roses and carnations to confess their love. Women answered one of two ways.
Some gave the suitor yellow carnations to express disdain and rejection. Some were more reserved and responded to their suitor with how they gave a bouquet. Giving with the right hand said “yes”, while the left hand meant “no”.
In addition, the presentation and state of the bouquet added meaning to the gift. For instance – presenting the arrangement upside down. This implied that the giver meant the reverse of what the flowers typically meant.
Another example is the angle of the ribbon binding the arrangement together. The meaning applied to the giver if the ribbon pulled to the left. The symbolism symbolized the recipient if it went to the right.
List of Flowers, Bouquets, and their Meanings
As we’ve learned, flower meanings have evolved and developed over time. Today, they continue to be useful in our relationships and how we express ourselves.
Here is a quick compilation of various species and their meanings. This also consists of 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
- Red – “You’re a flame in my heart”
- White – “You’re adorable”
- Pink – “Longing for you”
- 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), “lovely and sweet”
- Striped – refusal
- Red – love
- White – truth, loyalty/fidelity
- Yellow – jealousy, wounded love
Daffodil – rebirth, chivalry, eternal life
- Single – misfortune
- Bunch – joy and happiness
- Red or Pink – playfulness
- Blue – constancy
- White – loveliness
- Purple – sorrow
- Yellow – jealousy, infidelity
- Purple – wisdom, compliments
- Blue – faith, hope
- Yellow – passion
- White – purity
- Field – charity
- White – humility, youthful innocence
- Purple – first love
- Lily of the Valley – sweetness, purity of heart
- Easter – Virgin Mary
- White – modesty, chastity
- Yellow – gaiety
- Orange – passion
- 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
- Red – passion, declaration of love
- Yellow – “There’s sunshine in your smile”
- White – innocence
- Purple – love, affection
Photo by Annie Spratt