Floriography 101

Flowers, Bouquets, and their Meanings

No history of flowers is complete without finding out about the stories behind it. Because of that, we’re here to give you a rundown on flower meanings and assorted arrangements!

This crash course will help you discover the meanings behind both rare and popular blooms. Then, we go over the development of its place in ancient history.

In this article, we discuss a short overview on the origins of flower meanings. After that, we look at how it shaped human behavior and culture across history.

Peaking in the Victorian era, flowers still have a huge role in human interaction. In fact, it plays a role in our relationships with friends and special someones. Of course, people also saw its value as a means to express one’s emotions.

Flowers also remain valuable to creative works for their symbolic meanings. This involved legends in ancient mythologies and folklore. Later on, this also involved sonnets, plays, and productions in the Renaissance era.

Interested in a formal track on floristry? Want to get qualified as an expert on everything flower related? We suggest looking into professional bodies and schools in floristry.

These include American Institute of Floral Designers of the AIFD (www.aifd.org), the Society of American Florists (www.safnow.org), the American Floral Endowment (www.endowment.org). You can also check out similar organizations offering tracks in floristry.

Brief History on Flower Meanings

The language of flowers, from The Natural Wedding Company

Ever wonder about violets and their importance to Sapphic relationships? How about sunflowers and daisies and their popularity in friendly floral bouquets? Or the climb of roses to their position as a favorite flower?

Whatever it is, we’re here to help you. This overview will take you through the development of flower meanings throughout time.

Since its climax in the Victorian times, flowers have dotted the production and retelling of many art forms. This included mythologies and legends in ancient societies. Later, it appeared in plays authored by world famous artists like William Shakespeare.

In reality, the Victorians were so into flower meanings that they made entire manuals for it. It was one way for people to make sure they got their bouquets and floral arrangements right.

Today, flowers hold the same importance in expressing one’s emotions. This of course, extends to showing sentiments to their significant others and loved ones.

Everyone has an idea of the basics of the language of flowers. Red flowers, especially roses, show your love and passion for that special someone. Yellow flowers symbolize friendship. White signifies purity and innocence. And so on, so forth.

But how complicated does it become?

Does the meaning evolve when combined with other flowers, other colors, other arrangements? Does it matter if the variety of flowers is a mix of different species or only one species? Does it matter if the arrangement leans to the left, the right, or stands still and upright?

The short answer is, yes.

There are generally accepted meanings for each color. But there are other differences per color for different species.

Colors and Species

Flowers often mean nice things, like passion and affection. But they can also just as easily express negative emotions such as conceit and disdain.

For example, red roses are a plain display of feelings for another. At the same time, red tulips are a love declaration from one person to another.

In the same manner, white violets meant innocence, but purple ones meant feelings of love. Pink carnations expressed “I’ll never forget you,” while pink roses meant poise and gentleness.

While calla lilies represented splendid beauty, peonies expressed bashfulness, and tulips symbolized passion.

Of course, even the presentation of these blooms and particular arrangements matter. Trust us, you’ll need it if you want to properly decipher the meaning behind flower gifts.

Arrangement and Presentation

Flowers provided people a very exquisite means of interaction.

Suitors made use of them when trying to charm the object of their affections. Friends used them to offer condolences to a grieving family. Now, people also give flowers to celebrate their loved ones’ birthdays and accomplishments.

We’ve discussed the various meanings that a species’ various colors may express. Now, we take a closer look into the specifics of arrangement and presentation. We also get to know how they may amplify or change the message that we wish to send.

Here is an excellent example. Suitors usually made use of roses, tulips and carnations to confess their love. Women answered one of two ways.

Some gave the suitor yellow carnations to show disdain and rejection. Some were more subtle and responded to their suitor with how they handed over a bouquet. Giving with the right hand meant “yes”, while the left hand meant “no”.

In addition, the presentation and form of the bouquet added meaning to the present. For example – presenting the arrangement upside down. This implied that the giver meant the opposite of what the flowers usually meant.

Another good example is the angle of the ribbon tying the arrangement together. If the ribbon pulled to the left, the meaning symbolized the giver. The symbolism symbolized the recipient if it went to the right.

Language of Flowers, from Exquisite Banana

What does your arrangement mean? From Pinterest

List of Flowers, Bouquets, and their Meanings

As we’ve learned, flower meanings have grown and developed over time. Today, they continue to be important in our relationships and how we express ourselves.

Here is a brief compilation of varied species and their meanings. This also features variants from the colors they come in.

Aloe – bitterness, healing, protection
Amaryllis – worth beyond beauty
Angelica – inspiration
Anthurium – hospitality, abundance
Aster – love, daintiness
Begonia – beware, warning
Bird of Paradise – magnificence, joyfulness
Dahlia – dignity, pomp
Daisy – innocence, hope
Forget-me-not – memories of true love
Gardenia – secret love, purity
Gerbera – cheerfulness
Hydrangea – heartfelt emotions, gratitude, sometimes frigidity and heartlessness
Orchid – exotic beauty, mature charm, glorious femininity
Peony – bashfulness, compassion, sometimes shame and indignity
Sunflower – purity, adoration, dedication

Red – “You’re a flame in my heart”
White – “You’re adorable”
Pink – “Longing for you”

Red – love, pride, “my heart aches for you”
Pink – “I’ll never forget you”, mother’s love
Purple – capriciousness, erratic
Yellow – disdain, rejection
White – innocence, agape (unconditional love), “sweet and lovely”
Striped – refusal

Red – love
White – truth, loyalty/fidelity
Yellow – jealousy, wounded love

Daffodil – rebirth, chivalry, eternal life
Single – misfortune
Bunch – joy and happiness

Red or Pink – playfulness
Blue – constancy
White – loveliness
Purple – sorrow
Yellow – jealousy, infidelity

Purple – wisdom, compliments
Blue – faith, hope
Yellow – passion
White – purity

Field – charity
White – humility, youthful innocence
Purple – first love

Lily of the Valley – sweetness, purity of heart
Easter – Virgin Mary
White – modesty, chastity
Yellow – gaiety
Orange – passion

White – purity, innocence, a fresh start
Red – passion, “I love you”
Deep crimson- mourning
Pink – grace and gentleness
Yellow – jealousy and infidelity
Orange – desire, enthusiasm
Lavender – love at first sight
Coral pink – friendship, sympathy

Red – passion, declaration of love
Yellow – “There’s sunshine in your smile”

White – innocence
Purple – love, affection

From Beautiful Flowers PICT

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash