The Meaning of Flowers | A Thoughtful Way to Choose
January 6, 2015
Throughout history, lovers have given flowers to each other as a token of their longing, devotion, and love. The language and meaning of flowers has evolved through the years.
When choosing a flower as a gift, consider how special the flower is to your lover and what message it communicates. Use our guide to the language and meaning of flowers to make sure your meaning is crystal clear.
"The flowers of Yorkshire are like the women of Yorkshire. Every stage of their growth has its own beauty, but the last phase is always the most glorious. Then very quickly they all go to seed." - From John Clarke's (John Alderton) ungiven speech in the movie, "Calendar Girls."
Below is a list of flowers and what they mean or stand for. Which are your favorites?
ACACIA: Concealed love, chaste love.
ACORNS: Strength, endurance.
AGAPANTHUS: Love letters, love.
ALMOND, FLOWERING: Hope.
ALSTROMERIA: Wealth, prosperity, fortune.
ALYSSUM: Worth beyond beauty.
AMARYLLIS: Pride, beauty.
AMBROSIA: Love is reciprocated.
AMERICAN ELM: Patriotism.
ANEMONE: Forsaken, expectation.
APPLE BLOSSOMS: Good fortune, preference.
ARBUTUS: Thee only do I love.
ASH TREE: Grandeur.
ASPARAGUS FERN: Fascination.
ASTER: Variety, elegance, daintiness. This purple wildflower was once burned by the ancients because they believed the resulting smoke would drive away evil. It was named for the Latin word for "star." Also known as the birth flower for September.
ASTILBE: I'll still be waiting.
AZALEA: Love, romance, first love, fragile passion, temperance. It is also the Chinese symbol of womanhood and femininity.
BABY'S BREATH: Innocence.
BACHELOR'S BUTTON: Single blessedness, felicity, celibacy.
BALSAM: Ardent love.
BAMBOO: Strength, loyalty, steadfastness.
BASIL: Best wishes.
BAY WREATH: Merit reward.
BEECH TREE: Prosperity.
BEGONIA: Be cordial, fanciful nature, beware.
BELLS OF IRELAND: Good luck, gratitude, whimsy.
BIRD OF PARADISE: Magnificence.
BLACK POPLAR: Courage.
BLUEBELL: Humility, constancy, grief.
BROOM: Humility, neatness.
BUGLE: Lovable, cheers the heart.
BUTTERCUP: Childishness, riches, ingratitude.
BUTTERFLY WEED: Let me go.
CACTUS: Endurance, warmth.
CALENDULA: Grace, grief, jealousy. Also the birth flower for October.
CALLA LILY: Magnificent beauty. Associated with the sixth wedding anniversary.
CAMELLIA: Gratitude, loveliness.
CAMELLIA, PINK: Longing for you.
CAMELLIA, RED: You're a flame in my heart.
CAMELLIA, WHITE: You're adorable.
CARNATION: Fascination, distinction, divine love, woman, yes. Also the birth flower for January.
CARNATION, PINK: A woman's love, I'll never forget you, mother's love.
CARNATION, PURPLE: Capriciousness.
CARNATION, RED: Alas for my poor heart, admiration, my heart aches for you, friendship, pride, fascination.
CARNATION, STRIPED: Refusal, No, sorry I can't be with you.
CARNATION, WHITE: Innocence, faithfulness, sweet and lovely, pure love, ardent love, good luck. These lovely flowers have lasting qualities, and are often handed out on Mother's Day to symbolize the purity and strength of motherhood. They were handed out at the first Mother's Day service in 1908.
CARNATION, YELLOW: Disdain, rejection, you have disappointed me.
CATTAIL: Peace, prosperity.
CHESTNUT TREE: Justice, luxury.
CHRISTMAS/LENTEN ROSE (HELLEBORE): Beautiful year ahead.
CHRYSANTHEMUM: Cheerfulness, optimism, rest, truth, long life, joy. Considered to be a noble flower in Asian culture, mums are used as an object of meditation per a suggestion by Confucius. Also the birth flower for November.
CHRYSANTHEMUM, RED: I love.
CHRYSANTHEMUM, WHITE: Truth, loyal love.
CHRYSANTHEMUM, YELLOW: Slighted love.
CLEMATIS: Clever, intellectual. Associated with the eighth wedding anniversary.
CLOVER, FOUR-LEAF: Good luck, be mine. Faith, hope, love, and luck are represented by the four leaves. If you give your lover a four-leaf clover that you found, you belong to each other.
COLUMBINE: Salvation, strength, wisdom.
COSMOS: Modesty. Associated with the 2nd wedding anniversary.
COWSLIP: Grace, beauty.
CRANBERRY: Heartache cure.
CROCUS: Cheerfulness, gladness, abuse not.
CYCLAMEN: Resignation, good-bye.
CYPRESS: Mourning, death.
DAFFODIL: Regard, rebirth, new beginnings, unrequited love, you're the only one, chivalry, eternal life. Associated with the tenth wedding anniversary. Also the birth flower for March and the national symbol of Wales.
DAFFODIL, SINGLE: Misfortune.
DAFFODIL, SEVERAL: Joy, happiness.
DAHLIA: Instability, dignity, forever, good taste. Associated with the fourteenth wedding anniversary.
DAISY: Innocence, loyal love, I'll never tell, purity, love that conquers all, beauty, simplicity. Associated with the fifth wedding anniversary.
GLADIOLUS: Strength of character, remembrance, infatuation, splendid beauty, give me a break, I'm really sincere, flower of the Gladiators, admiration, tells recipients that they pierce the heart like a sword. Because the gladiolus has blade-shaped leaves, the name comes from the Latin word gladius which means sword. Also the birthflower for August.
GLOXINA: Love at first sight.
HEATHER, LAVENDER: Admiration, solitude, beauty.
HEATHER, WHITE: Protection, wishes will come true.
HEN-AND-CHICKENS: Welcome home husband however drunk you are.
LILAC: Youthful, first love, humility, confidence.
LILY: Majesty, wealth, pride, innocence, purity.
LILY, WHITE: Purity, modesty, virginity, majesty, it's heavenly to be with you. The white lily is linked to Juno, the queen of the gods in Roman mythology, by the story that while nursing her son Hercules, some excess milk fell from the sky creating the group of stars we call the Milky Way, and lilies were created from what milk fell to the earth. The Easter lily is also known as the symbol of the Virgin Mary.
LILY, ORANGE: flame, I burn for you.
LILY, YELLOW: I'm walking on air, false, gay.
LILY OF THE VALLEY: Return of happiness, purity of heart, sweetness, tears of the Virgin Mary, you've made my life complete, humility, happiness, love's good fortune. The legend of the lily of the valley is that it sprang from Eve's tears when she was kicked out of the Garden of Eden. It is also believed that this flower protects gardens from evil spirits. Also known as the flower of May.
LIVE OAK: Liberty.
LOTUS BLOSSOM: Estranged love.
MAGNOLIA: Dignity, love of nature, nobility.
MARIGOLD: Affection, cruelty, grief, jealousy. The marigold was called Mary's Gold by early Christians who placed garlands of marigolds by statues of the Virgin Mary.
MARIGOLD, POT: Grief, despair.
MINT: Virtue, warmth, protection.
MISTLETOE: Kiss me, affection, to surmount difficulties, sacred plant of India.
MONKSHOOD: Beware, a deadly foe is near, danger.
MORNING GLORY: Loves you, affection. Associated with the eleventh wedding anniversary.
MOSS: Maternal love, charity.
MULBERRY TREE: Wisdom.
MYRTLE: Love, Hebrew emblem of marriage.
NARCISSUS: Egotism, conceit, self love, self admiration, formality, stay as sweet as you are. Also known as the birth flower for December.
NASTURTIUM: Conquest, victory in battle, patriotism. Associated with the fortieth wedding anniversary.
OAK LEAVES: Bravery, strength, endurance.
OAK TREE: Hospitality.
OLIVE BRANCH: Peace.
ORANGE BLOSSOMS/FLOWERS: Purity, innocence, eternal love, marriage, and fruitfulness, fertility, pure loveliness, chastity.
ORANGE, MOCK: Deceit.
ORANGE TREE: Generosity.
ORCHID: Rare beauty, love, refinement, beautiful lady, Chinese symbol for many children, mature charm, beauty, long life. Associated with twenty-eighth wedding anniversary.
PALM LEAVES: Victory, success.
PANSY: Recipient is being thought about, loyalty. The flower's name comes from the French word pensée which means thought or remembrance. Because pansies often have three colors in one blossom, they have been symbolic of the Trinity. Associated with the first wedding anniversary. Engaged couples placed garlands of pansies around their portraits.
PAPERWHITE: Aphrodisiac due to its intoxicating scent. It is also another special flower of Wales because it often blooms on March 1st which is St. David's feast day, Wales' patron saint.
POPPY: Eternal sleep, oblivion, imagination. Associated with ninth wedding anniversary.
POPPY, RED: Pleasure, consolation.
POPPY, WHITE: Consolation, sleep, rest.
POPPY, YELLOW: Wealth, success.
PRIMROSE: Happiness, satisfaction, I can't live without you.
PRIMROSE, EVENING: Happy love.
PUSSY WILLOW: Illness recovery.
QUEEN ANNE'S LACE: Haven.
RANUNCULUS: You are radiant with charm, radiant charm, attractive.
RHODODENDRON: Danger, caution.
ROSE: Love, passion, perfection. The rose was named for the Latin word rosa which means red. It has been a symbol of love since ancient times. Associated with the fifteenth wedding anniversary. It is also known as the birth flower of June.
ROSE, BRIDAL: Love, happiness.
ROSE, BURGUNDY: Beauty within.
ROSE, CORAL: Desire.
ROSE, DARK CRIMSON: Mourning.
ROSE, HIBISCUS: Delicate beauty.
ROSE, LAVENDER: Love at first sight, enchantment.
ROSE, LEAF: You may hope.
ROSE, MOSS: Confessions of love.
ROSE, ORANGE: Fascination, display feeling of enthusiasm.
ROSE, RED: Love, passion, respect, courage, I love you, beauty, pure and lovely, prosperity.
ROSE, DEEP RED: Un-selfconscious beauty.
ROSE, SINGLE, FULL BLOOM: I love you, I still love you, new love.
ROSE, BUD, SMALL: Pure and lovely, beauty and youth, a heart innocent of love, confession of love.
ROSE, THORNLESS: Love at first sight.
ROSE, WHITE: Innocence, purity, secrecy, I am worthy of you, silence, friendship, truth, virtue, girlhood, humility spiritual love, but of the soul, reverence, charm, happy love and national symbol of England.
ROSE, WHITE, DRIED: Death is preferable to loss of virtue.
ROSE, YELLOW: Joy, friendship, true love, decrease of love, jealousy, try to care, freedom, slighted love, shows "I care", gladness.
ROSES, BOUQUET, MATURE: Gratitude.
ROSES, RED & WHITE TOGETHER: Unity, flower emblem of England.
ROSES, YELLOW & RED TOGETHER: Happiness, congratulations.
STEPHANOTIS: Happiness in marriage, desire to travel.
STOCK: Lasting beauty, bonds of affection, promptness, you'll always be beautiful to me, happy life.
STRAW, BROKEN: Broken contract.
STRAW, WHOLE: Union.
STRAWBERRY: Esteem, love.
SUNFLOWER: Follows the sun as it grows, adoration, haughtiness, devotion. "I don't think there's anything on this planet that more trumpets life that the sunflower. For me that's because of the reason behind its name. Not because it looks like the sun but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that's such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life." - Chris's (Helen Mirren) comment in the movie, "Calendar Girls."
SWEET BASIL: Good wishes.
SWEET PEA: Lasting pleasure, good-bye, departure, blissful pleasure, thank you for a lovely time, I think of you. Supposedly this delicate flower was named by the poet John Keats. Associated with the thirtieth wedding anniversary. Also known as the birth flower of April.
SWEET WILLIAM: Gallantry, smile, finesse, grant me one smile.
THISTLE: Retaliation, austerity, and national symbol of Scotland.
TREE OF LIFE: Old age.
TRUMPET FLOWER: Fame.
TUBEROSE: Dangerous pleasure.
TULIP: Perfect lover, frame, flower emblem of Holland.
TULIP, RED: Believe me, declaration of love, fame.
TULIP, VARIEGATED: Beautiful eyes.
TULIP, YELLOW: Hopeless love, there's sunshine in your smile.
VALERIAN: Accommodating disposition.
VIOLET: Modesty, faithfulness, innocence, understated beauty, you're in my thoughts. Worn by the ancient Greeks to induce sleep and to calm tempers. Associated with the fiftieth wedding anniversary. Also known as the birth flower of February.
VIOLET, BLUE: Watchfulness, faithfulness, I'll always be true.
VIOLET, PURPLE: Thoughts of you, blue love.
VIOLET, WHITE: Let's take a chance, youthful innocence.
VIOLET, YELLOW: Love of country.
WATER LILY: Purity of heart.
WHEAT: Friendliness, riches.
WILLOW, WEEPING: Mourning.
WITCH HAZEL: A spell.
WOODBINE: Fraternal love.
XERANTHEMUM: Cheerfulness under adverse conditions.
YARROW: Healing, sorrow.
ZINNIA: Thoughts of absent friends, in memory of an absent friend.