Is there any better way to show your love for someone than with flowers? Flowers aren’t a new symbol of love or sympathy by any means. They’ve been a part of human communication for thousands of years. In fact, the language of flowers dates back to ancient times. The Egyptians used flowers to decorate tombs while the Romans associated flowers with their gods and goddesses.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- The History of Flower Meanings
- Colors and Flower Meanings
- Flowers That Symbolize Death
- Flowers Associated with Sadness
- Flowers Linked to Romance or Love
- Flowers Related to Marriage
- Flowers That Symbolize Friendship
- Flowers Associated with Strength & Perseverance
- Flower Meanings for Funerals
- Flowers That Symbolize Birth
- Chinese Flower Meanings
- Japanese Flower Meanings
- Russian Flower Meanings
- Celtic Flower Meanings
Today, flowers still carry significance. Believe it or not, there’s a whole language and symbolism behind your favorite flowers. From funeral flowers to holiday flowers, there is a bloom for every occasion. In this guide, we’ll explore the most popular flower types and their meanings.
The History of Flower Meanings
Floriography is another word for the language of flowers. Though people used flowers for centuries as a way to communicate, this wasn’t a formal tradition until the Victorian era.
In Victorian England and France, flowers became a popular way to communicate with others. These were reserved times. People couldn’t be free in their conversations and who they interacted with. Instead, they expressed their desires through flowers. Soon, books were published to explain this language of flowers to the public.
Flowers were a part of life before the language of flowers. In ancient and medieval times, flowers supposedly possessed medicinal or enchanted qualities. They would ward off evil spirits or bring good luck in traditions across the globe. Today, flowers are still used as a tool for expressing yourself. From romantic bouquets to sympathy flowers, there are no limits to these blossoms.
Colors and Flower Meanings
Colors evoke feelings and stories. In the language of flowers, color plays a huge role. What do your favorite flowers mean according to their color? To understand flower meanings on a deeper level, let’s take a look at the symbolism behind color.
- Black: Though many mistake black for being ominous, it’s actually a symbol for rebirth and change.
- Blue: The color blue is a way to express calmness. Blue flowers represent serenity and peace. Blue flowers are often given for sympathy.
- Green: Green is the symbol of nature. It’s a sign of health and good fortune.
- Orange: Orange is a bold color. It’s a way to represent joy and happiness.
- Pink: Pink symbolizes happiness and grace. Like the vibrant color itself, this is a way to convey innocence and joy.
- Purple: Purple has royal ties. Previously only associated with the wealthy elite, this color represents dignity and success.
- Red: Red is the most romantic color of all. It’s a symbol of desire and passionate love.
- Violet: Violet is a feminine color. In flowers, violet represents grace and elegance.
- White: White is for innocence, humility, and beauty. These blooms are both modest and elegant all at once. The beauty is in the simplicity.
- Yellow: Like the bright sun, yellow flowers represent joy. They are also a common symbol of happiness and friendship.
Flowers That Symbolize Death
As you’ve likely realized by now, there’s a meaning behind every flower. These are dependent on a number of factors like the color and the flower’s history. Some flowers symbolize death, and they’re commonly found at funerals.
Despite the somber topic, these flowers are a way to remember the life and the memories of those who passed on. Many choose to leave flowers that symbolize death on the graves of loved ones. However, be sure to review grave flowers etiquette.
- Carnations: Because of their long-lasting fragrance, carnations are a popular choice in funeral arrangements. Red carnations show vibrant love for a deceased loved one while white carnations are for innocence.
- Chrysanthemums: Mums have rich cultural meaning in Europe and Asia. They’re a symbol of grief and sorrow.
- Roses: While roses are a sign of romantic love, they are also popular in funeral arrangements. Roses can also express grief and enduring love.
- Lilies: Lilies are a beautiful flower, and they can evoke feelings of calmness. White lilies are most common for funerals, but oriental lilies are also a good choice.
- Orchids: Orchids are one of the most graceful flowers. Their elegant blooms make them one of the best memorial gifts. They’re a sign of undying love.
Flowers Associated with Sadness
Some flowers are associated with sadness. Whether they have a dramatic appearance or they’re a sign of encouragement, these flowers are appropriate for a number of occasions. Offer one of these flowers below for sympathy in a time of sadness. These are a good choice for what to bring to a funeral as well.
- Daffodils: Daffodils have long been thought of as a cure for sadness. They are often among the first plants to emerge after winter. They are messengers of new life, especially with their bright yellow blooms. They bring hope to a family in need.
- Hydrangea: Hydrangeas are seasonal, so they are a sign of rebirth. These plants bloom again and again once planted. This brings peace as a sign of sympathy.
- Tulips: Brightly colored tulips are another sign of fresh starts. They bring encouragement to those who need it most.
- Gladioli: Commonly seen at funerals, gladioli’s flowers can measure 4 feet tall. These are found in all colors and are a symbol of having strength of character.
- Cyclamens - This poisonous plant is a symbol of both sorrow and separation. They’re common for saying goodbye.
Flowers Linked to Romance or Love
The most common meaning behind flowers is love. That’s why flowers are so popular for holidays like Valentine's Day and Mother’s Day. Here are the flowers tied to romance and love.
- Red roses: Is there any flower as powerful as the red rose? This rose gets its meaning from its ancient relation to Venus, the goddess of love.
- Red and white carnations: Red carnations are a symbol of deep love while white carnations are a sign of undying devotion.
- Primrose: Primrose represents young love. They’re sweet and innocent, so they’re common for engagements.
- Tulips: Tulip colors have many meanings. Red tulips are for undying love while yellow tulips are a sign of hopeless love.
- Daisies: Daisies are a symbol of budding romance. They’re a great way to share your affection.
Flowers Related to Marriage
Flowers also show unyielding support and commitment. In a marriage, flowers carry their own unique meanings like those below. Who said the rose was the most romantic flower?
- Pastel carnation: You might have spotted the pastel carnation at weddings. This is a symbol of both love and admiration.
- Camelia: Camelia is for the couple that has been together for years. It’s a sign of longevity and faithfulness.
- Blue iris: As dramatic as it is beautiful, the blue iris is tied to the Greek goddess of love. This is a romantic flower that tells a love that they are a rare beauty.
- Alstroemeria: Also known as the Peruvian Lily, this is a bold flower and a symbol of beauty.
- Myrtle: Favored by Queen Victoria in England, this flower is an ode to undying love.
Flowers That Symbolize Friendship
Flowers are a way to express any number of things, including friendship. Throughout history, friends exchanged flowers to communicate rich, fond feelings.
- Sunflower: What’s more lovely than a bright yellow sunflower? These sweet flowers are a sign that someone is thinking of you.
- Yellow rose: When roses are yellow, they’re a sign of joy and friendship.
- White zinnia: For friends who are apart, the white zinnia is a reminder of your friendship.
- Ivy: This green woody plant signifies a blossoming friendship.
- Adam’s needle: Adam’s needle is a signifier of true best friends. It grows on just about any surface, just like a strong friendship.
Flowers Associated With Strength & Perseverance
Flowers are nature’s reminder that life goes on. Rebirth and growth are always possible with just a little bit of sunshine. These flowers below are perfect for pairing with a sympathy note for flowers. Let yourself and others be inspired by their blooms.
- Aster: With a wild beauty, ancient people thought this flower to be enchanted. Today, it’s still thought to drive away evil.
- Protea: This flower is a symbol of transformation and change. Its name comes from the colorful petals that resemble a crown.
- Calla lily: This flower signifies passion and also rebirth. They’re a common good luck charm.
- Bird of paradise: The lively and vibrant bird of paradise flower is the ultimate symbol of freedom and joy.
- Magnolia: Magnolias stand for perseverance, and they’re one of the most fragrant blooms.
Flower Meanings for Funerals
While you’ll find flowers for all different occasions, they’re especially common for funerals. Not only are they a burst of hope and life in a dark time, but they’re also a physical way to show family your support.
Whether you choose to send flowers for a funeral or you’re planning a funeral yourself, what do different flowers mean at funerals? Here are some of the most common flowers for funerals and the meanings behind them.
- Lilies: Lilies are one of the most common types of funeral flowers. They’re seen as a representation of innocence, especially common for children's funerals.
- Carnations: Another common funeral flower is the carnation. These flowers are a symbol for pure love, and pink carnations are a sign of eternal remembrance.
- Chrysanthemums: Especially common in Europe, chrysanthemums are a symbol for death. Though this is a dark meaning, they also are seen as a cheerful way to honor someone’s legacy.
- Roses: Roses aren’t just popular for Valentine’s day. White roses are a sign of innocence, and red roses are a sign of love. Roses are commonly used in wreaths and bouquets at funerals to show the family support.
- Tulips: Tulips are a common symbol for hope, friendship, and love. The color of the tulip lends to its meaning, but this is a common flower for funerals of all shapes and sizes.
- Orchids: Last but not least, pink and white orchids are commonly used at funerals to represent sympathy and love.
Flowers That Symbolize Birth
Flowers are also used to symbolize celebration and new birth. If someone you love recently gave birth to a baby, this is a brilliant time to celebrate. What flowers are best? Here are the most common flowers that symbolize birth and new life.
- Carnation: Carnations are a symbol of rebirth, hope, and love, making them the perfect way to honor a new baby.
- Daisy: Daisies are seen as a way to welcome and invite new beginnings as well as good luck.
- Lily of the Valley: Lily of the valley is a flower that represents the joy of motherhood, a great gift for a new mom.
- Poppy: The poppy is a symbol of imagination and joy, a cute way to welcome a new life.
- Primrose: The primrose is a simple, beautiful flower, and it’s commonly a sign of newness, rebirth, and innocence. Ideal for new parents or welcoming a child, the Primrose is a memorable flower.
- Gladiolus: Lastly, the gladiolus flower is a sign of strong character, which could be seen as a beautiful tribute for a new baby entering this world.
Chinese Flower Meanings
Different cultures have their own meanings behind different flowers. In China, flowers are a powerful way to tell stories and communicate. Whether you’re gifting flowers to someone in the Chinese culture or you simply want to learn more, here are popular Chinese flower meanings.
- Lily: Lilies are a popular flower across the globe, but they have a very strong meaning in Chinese culture. To the Chinese, lilies are a symbol of good luck and happiness. They’re commonly given as a wedding present and as a good omen for future parents.
- Lotus: The lotus flower is the most well-known flower from China, and it can have pink or white petals. A common theme in Chinese history, lotus overcome obstacles to bloom, making them a symbol of strength.
- Chrysanthemum: The chrysanthemum flowers are native to China, and they are a sign of duration and long life.
- Peony: Known as the king of flowers, these were one of the first flowers to be cultivated in China. Today, peonies symbolize happiness.
- Azalea: Lastly, azaleas are technically poisonous, but they’re still common in medicine and as a symbolic flower. They represent both happiness and good luck.
Japanese Flower Meanings
Flowers carry a lot of significance in Japan, and there is a language to all of the flowers. Many Japanese flowers date back through ancient stories and royal lines, creating a rich story or meaning. Here is the meaning behind many Japanese flowers:
- Chrysanthemum: Known as mums for short, this flower is the symbol of the Japanese Imperial Family. As the most noble flower, it means trust and purity, and it’s commonly used as a sign of respect for funerals.
- Daffodil: The daffodil isn’t just a pretty flower. In Japan, it’s a sign of extreme respect.
- Wisteria: This spring flower is a lovely purple and white, making it common in women’s fashion. Because this is another noble flower, it’s a sign of respect and prosperity.
- Sunflower: In Japan, sunflowers are bright, vibrant flowers that are used to symbolize sunshine and happiness. They’re also commonly gifted to show respect.
- Tulip: Tulips, like in other parts of the world, are a sign of love in Japan. These are common flowers for celebrations, weddings, and funerals.
Russian Flower Meanings
Russia is serious about flowers, and they play a big role in culture. In Russia, it’s common to read into the meaning behind the flower, leading to a strong history of symbolism. Flowers are given for any number of reasons, from funerals to regular gifts.
However, make sure you give an odd number of flowers to avoid upsetting superstition. When choosing a flower for someone who belongs to the Russian culture, be mindful of these meanings below:
- Yellow tulips: First, it’s important to know which flowers not to send in Russia. Yellow flowers (especially yellow tulips) are a sign of deceit and sadness. These are disrespectful flowers, so avoid them at all costs.
- White roses: Like in other parts of the globe, roses are a sign of love and eternal devotion. White roses are a universal symbol for love and togetherness.
- Lily of the Valley: In Russian tradition, there is a story of love behind the lily of the valley. These are a common symbol of pure love, making them a good fit for many situations.
- Green leaves: Believe it or not, sometimes the flower doesn’t make the biggest impact in Russia. In fact, leaves themselves are a symbol for hope. Including leaves on your flower stems is a good idea.
Celtic Flower Meanings
In Celtic tradition, there are a lot of different symbols and meanings. The Celtic people believe in the power and beauty of nature above all, which means there is a lot of focus on flowers. You’ll find flowers on Celtic crests, coins, flags, and so on. What are the most common Celtic flowers and the meanings behind them?
- Shamrock: While technically a plant (not a flower), this is the national flower of Ireland. The shamrock is associated with good luck and compassion.
- Daffodil: A symbol of Wales, the daffodil is a sunny flower that’s pleasant to behold. Today, daffodils are used on popular holidays and as a sign of hope.
- Hawthorn: The hawthorn is a flower that has a strong role in Celtic folklore, prominently featured in stories of fairies and the spiritual realm. Today, this flower is used to banish misfortune and bring good luck.
- Primrose: In ancient times, the primrose flower was used to evoke safety and protection. It’s also the flower of love and luck.
- Easter Lilies: Commonly worn to honor those who have died in service of their country, these are a favorite in Ireland.
Communicate with Flowers
Did you know flowers could mean so many things? Flowers sometimes say what words cannot. They’re powerful symbols for all aspects of life. You can think of flowers like nature’s greeting cards. There’s one for just about anything.
Humans have communicated with flowers for thousands of years. From graveyards to goddesses, these blooms have a lot to say. How will you use flowers to communicate with the ones you love?