The Symbolism and Language of Flowers

What specific flowers and their colors symbolize

Who doesn’t love the beauty of flowers? For me, they are the epitome of romance in symbolism.

In light of the upcoming Valentine’s Day celebrations, here are some thoughts on expressing your love.

person holding bouquet of flower

The symbolic language of flowers has been recognized for centuries in many countries throughout Europe and Asia.

Back in the Victorian age, strict social mores made it difficult for men and women to express their feelings for one another. Flowers were given to express feelings that couldn’t be spoken out loud. Specific flowers and their colors were assigned meanings to be used to express one’s feelings. There were even books that outlined these guidelines and symbols (and still are), the necessary love language of the times. These days, people still have trouble expressing their feelings for another person. It’s always scary putting yourself out there! So, flowers are still a way of doing that in a more subtle manner than texting your feelings to someone only to find yourself getting ghosted.

Expressing admiration and love can be tricky for several reasons, and trying to get it “right” can often feel like that moment when someone asks you, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” Or the nonsensical interview question of “what would you describe as your worst attribute or quality?” Seriously? Talk about awkward and being put on the spot.

woman taking selfie

In essence, for many people (most of us!), expressing or announcing your feelings for someone is terrifying. Victorian era or not. But flowers are here to help! The receiver will either know the love-meaning of the flowers you’ve chosen to give them, or they won’t. But either way, you can gauge their feelings on some level by how they react to your flowers.

For example, if you give someone a bouquet of red roses (or even just one), they’ll know your feelings. The meaning of red roses is pretty much universal knowledge. Keep it simple. Use the most common flowers with the most common meanings. Or give the recipient a guide book to the language of flowers along with the bouquet.

three red rose flowers on white open book

But if you are feeling adventurous or know your recipient knows a bit about the meanings and symbols of flowers, here is a short list of a few common flowers used to express romantic feelings. Or look at this article from The Old Farmer’s Almanac for more plants and expanded meanings.

Good luck!

Red Carnation. Most people know that a red carnation is a symbol of love. But be careful, because the yellow carnation symbolizes disdain, disappointment, and rejection. Yikes!

Daffodil. This flower (one of my faves) represents regard or unequaled love.

Daisy. My favorite flower! They make me smile at the sight of them, a happy flower. But beware, because if you give this to someone, you might be saying “I love you truly”. Is that what you want?

Red Tulip. A declaration of love. Look up the meanings of the other colors if you aren’t ready to take things to that level just yet.

Gardenia. A symbol for secret love. If you’re trying to reveal your feelings to someone, this one might be a tad confusing. Just saying…

Lilly-of-the-valley. Pure love.

Red Rose. I love you! I think everyone knows this one. But like the carnation, be careful of the yellow variety. Apparently yellow might be telling someone you no longer love them. Or that you are guilty of infidelity. The yellow rose has the potential of destroying a relationship, so handle with care.

Poppy. This one is a bit perplexing, yet also entertaining. According to the almanac source I mentioned above, the poppy says “I am not free”. Okay? Does that mean you are not available, as in you are married or taken? Or are you telling someone they must pay for your services? Um, be careful with this one, friends.

If you do research this topic further, you’ll find the meanings for flowers can change according to the source. So don’t put too much stock into their symbols. Just have fun with it! And stick to the ones most commonly known to symbolize love, if that’s what you’re trying to say. Or be brave and use your words!

Thanks for visiting my blog and happy reading!

Inspirational quote:

“When you love someone, you love the whole person, just as he or she is, and not as you would like them to be.” –Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Book Recommendation/suggestion:

The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. This book is one of my favorite books. I love the story, the characters, and the author’s writing style. It is also responsible for first opening my mind to the plight of foster children who age out of the system, a cause still close to my heart. I read this in 2012, but my love for it still holds. You can read my review and that of others on Goodreads.

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