What Do Different Flowers Symbolize?

Every Saturday, my husband and I enjoy a leisurely walk around our town. If you drove by us, you might think, “What is that crazy woman doing, running around taking pictures of every single flower?” And it’s true! I love stopping to check them out and take pictures as we work our way through the neighborhood.

But I’ve never been super interested in knowing their names or what they mean. Recently, I thought  – that could be fun! So, I decided to improve my knowledge on this subject and to learn what different flowers symbolize.

There are some with obvious meanings that we’re all probably familiar with.  For instance, when I received my first dozen red roses for my thirteenth birthday, I was so excited because I knew that must have meant true love, ha! But I didn’t know that baby’s breath means “everlasting love,” lilacs represent “first signs of love,” and daisies mean “playfulness and happiness.” Did you? As it turns out, there’s a Secret Language of Flowers, and every flower has a specific meaning.  

A little history of the meaning of flowers

People have been using flowers to express emotions for thousands of years. This custom first began in the Middle East in the 17th century and became popular in the West during the Victorian era. With their strict social customs, the Victorians turned to flowers to help them say what they couldn’t say out loud. (Isn’t that fascinating? My how things have changed..)

Additionally, Shakespeare used the meanings of flowers to enhance his storylines.  In fact, there is a scene in Hamlet when poor Ophelia laments, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there are pansies, that’s for thoughts.” Even dashing Leopold, in the movie “Kate and Leopold,” knew better than to send a woman orange lilies. (hatred – watch out for those!) 

How to use flowers to symbolize feelings

Today, it might be fun and creative to give a themed bouquet as a special treat to someone you love (or don’t love – depending on the flower ;-) along with leads for deciphering your meaning. If a friend or loved one is embarking on a new adventure, you could give them a custom bouquet of heather (good luck), camellia (loveliness), and blue iris (signifying “I believe in you”).

You could also make a profound impact by keeping things simple. For an enduring, loving friendship, consider a small bouquet of alstroemeria (devotion and friendship). Or, if you are in a long-lasting loving relationship, send a bouquet of tulips (happy years!). Lastly, if you are in the throes of passion with someone you recently met, have an orchid delivered (romantic love that tends to have racy connotations).

Now that you know so much more about how flowers communicate emotions, you can have so much fun selecting the right one for the moment.

See if you can use this list to “Say it with flowers!”

List of flowers and their meanings:

Alstroemeria: Devotion and friendship, fitting for a long-lasting cut flower.
Apple Blossom: Good fortune
Artemisia: Dignity
Baby’s Breath: Everlasting love 
Blue Iris: “I believe in you,” –  wisdom, hope, faith. 
Calla Lily: Magnificent beauty
Camellia: Perfected loveliness
Cyclamen: It’s over, goodbye
Dahlia: Dignity, confidence, and strength a bouquet says gratitude. 
Daisy:Playfulness and happiness.
Forget-me-not: Memories
Foxglove: Insincerity
Gardenia: Secret love
Gladiolus: Strong character and splendid beauty
Heather (pink): Good luck
Jasmine: Cheerful and graceful
Lilac: First sign of love
Lily: purity and innocence (white);  prosperity (pink)
Marigold: Cruelty or jealousy
Orchid: Romantic love that tends to have racy connotations. 
Queen Anne’s Lace: Fantasy
Rose: A fully open rose represents beauty; a peach one stands for friendship.
Sweet Pea:  Pleasure and gratitude: “Thank you for the time we spent together.” 
Tulip: Happy years. Purple is associated with royalty
Violet: Modesty
Yellow Daylilies: Coquetry
Zinnia: Thoughts of absent friends.

Links and resources: 


Flowers can bring so much happiness to someone. See a few things that bring happiness to me here.

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