Flower meanings: learn the language of flowers

Flower meanings: learn the language of flowers

We all know red roses are a classic symbol of true love. Beyond that, though, many of us aren’t sure of the symbolic meanings of flowers—and may fear accidentally sending the wrong message (especially in a budding relationship).

Usually we don’t need to worry. Although people in Victorian England were well aware of the symbolic meaning of dozens of flowers, today, most of us just appreciate a pretty bouquet. Still, it can be fun to know a little about the language of flowers, and mentioning their significance in an accompanying card or note may make the gift even more meaningful.

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Here are some of the traditional meanings of flowers—and some ideas about who might appreciate them. Of course, if you know that a particular flower in a certain hue is someone’s favorite, then it’s always appropriate. In that case, it just means, “I know you and I love you”…and what could be more meaningful than that?

 Tulips

Meaning: “I love you.”
Maybe send them to: Your Valentine, especially if he or she isn’t into roses.

 Lilies

Meaning: “Refined beauty.”
Maybe send them to: Your girlfriend or wife, to let her know she’s a classy lady. Don’t give white lilies by themselves because they might remind her of Easter. Pink lilies can look especially romantic.

 Irises

Meaning: “Compliments.”
Maybe send them to: Your Valentine, to tell her you can’t say enough good things about her. Purple irises are often mixed with other flowers in Valentine’s Day bouquets.

 Daisies

Meaning: “We understand each other.”
Maybe send them to: Your sister or your BFF.

 Gardenia bonsai

Meaning: “You make me so happy.”
Maybe send them to: Your husband.

 Bamboo plant

Meaning: “Lucky.”
Maybe send them to: Your boyfriend, to let him know you were lucky to have met him.

 Anthurium plant

Meaning: “Home and happiness.”
Maybe send them to: Your spouse, to let him know you love your life together. Like many tropical plants, this is popular to give to guys.

 Bird of Paradise plant

Meaning: “Joy and excitement.”
Maybe send them to: Any Valentine, male or female, who makes you feel like you’re in paradise.

 Zinnias

Meaning: “I miss you.”
Maybe send them to: A long-distance love or friend.

 Orchids

Meaning: “You’re beautiful.”
Maybe send them to: Any Valentine, male or female. Potted orchid plants are more often given to men, while orchid bouquets are more frequently given to women.

 Miniature or sweetheart roses

Meaning: “You’re a sweet girl.”
Maybe send them to: Your daughter or granddaughter.

 Pink roses

Meaning: “Admiration; gratitude.”
Maybe send them to: Your mom or your grandma.

 Lavender roses

Meaning: “Enchantment.”
Maybe send them to: Your new girlfriend…or a crush!

 Yellow roses

Meaning: “Friendship.”
Maybe send them to: Your friend, of course. In a romantic context, these can mean, “let’s just be friends,” so watch out!

Stacey Donovan has been a writer and editor at Hallmark for more than 20 years. She also writes romance novels (under a pseudonym), and has collected a wealth of obscure knowledge in the process.