Flowers, Bouquets, and their Meanings

No history of flowers is complete without finding out about the stories behind it. Given that, we’re here to give you a rundown on flower meanings and assorted arrangements!

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

In this article, we talk about a quick overview on the origins of flower meanings. Later, we talk about how it formed human behavior and culture across time.

Peaking in the Victorian times, flowers still have a huge 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 emotions.

Flowers also remain significant to creative works for their symbolic meanings. This consisted of legends in ancient mythologies and folklore. Later, this also featured sonnets, plays, and productions in the Renaissance period.

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

These include American Institute of Floral Designers of the AIFD (, the Society of American Florists (, the American Floral Endowment ( You can also check out 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 relevance 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 guide will take you through the development of flower meanings throughout history.

Since its peak in the Victorian period, flowers have dotted the writing and retelling of many art forms. This consisted of mythologies and legends in ancient societies. Later, it appeared in plays authored by world famous artists like William Shakespeare.

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

Today, flowers hold the same relevance in expressing one’s emotions. This of course, extends to showing sentiments to their special someones 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 symbolize friendship. White signifies purity and innocence. And so on, so forth.

But how sophisticated does it get?

Does the meaning change 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 to the left, the right, or stands still and upright?

The short answer is, yes. There are widely accepted meanings for every color. But there are further differences per color for various species.


Colors and Species

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

For instance, red roses are an open 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 feelings of love. Pink carnations expressed “I’ll never forget you,” while pink roses meant grace and gentleness.

While calla lilies showed splendid beauty, peonies represented bashfulness, and tulips symbolized passion.

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


Arrangement and Presentation

Flowers offered people a very delicate means of interaction.

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

We’ve talked about 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 get to know how they may change or amplify the message that we would like to send.

Here is a great example. Suitors usually used carnations, tulips 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 reserved and answered their suitor with how they gave a bouquet. Giving with the right hand said “yes”, while the left hand meant “no”.

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

Another good example is the direction of the ribbon tying the arrangement together. The meaning applied to the giver if the ribbon pulled to the left. If it went to the right, the symbolism symbolized the recipient.

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 significant in our relationships and how we express ourselves.

Here is a brief compilation of varied 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

From Beautiful Flowers PICT