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UK Information » UK Florists » Tips and advice » What do different flowers mean?

What do different flowers mean?

Giving flowers, whatever the occasion, signifies your feelings and your feelings towards the person you are giving the flowers to. Flowers can also indicate the person's character. When you are giving someone flowers you should consider what the flowers mean.

The exotic language of flowers evolved in the harems of Turkey, where people used to wile away the time by guessing the meanings attached to each individual flower. It was also employed as a secret communication between lovers.

During the Victorian era, each flower was given a particular significance. The Victorians loved their flowers and refined the language of flowers, even sending subtle messages via the arrangement of a vase or a bouquet of flowers. This sending of messages through lovely scented flowers was referred to as a 'Persian Selam'.

In Victorian times, a man would pick a flower with a specific meaning to convey his feelings for a lady. Then, flower meanings were more commonly understood, as it was improper to always convey your feelings verbally.

Wedding flowers can mean different things

If you are getting married, it is a good idea to research the meaning of the flowers you want.

  • Roses are the most popular flower choice for the bride, but different coloured roses convey different meanings:
    • White stands for innocence, purity, beauty and charm;
    • Red stands for passion and fiery love;
    • Pale pink stands for grace and happiness;
    • Dark pink is expressing thankfulness from the couple that they found each other;
    • Ivy stands for fidelity in the marriage.
  • Tulips are also popular, particularly for a Spring wedding. They represent an undying love.
  • Daisies stand for romance and innocence.
  • Calla Lilies represent elegance, charm, beauty and grace, and are for a sophisticated touch.

The meaning of popular flowers

Flowers have many different meanings, around the world. We can't cover all these meaning here, but we'll go through some of the most popular.

Roses  Roses
Roses, Rosa hybrida, Family Rosaceae, can convey many meanings, including completion, achievement and perfection. The meanings are influenced by the colour, shape and number of petals. For example, the blue rose symbolizes the impossible, the golden rose the pinnacle of achievement, and an eight petal rose signifies regeneration.

According to a French saying from la republique, white roses are for love, red roses are for passion, and yellow roses are for friendship. For happiness, give pink roses, which represent grace, gentleness and gratitude, and for love at first sight, give lilac roses.

There is a Talmudic legend that tells how the rose became red. Eve had a vision, where her sons Cain and Abel were making an offering of a lamb on the altar. The white roses Cain had planted about it became red with the blood of the lamb. She heard wonderful music and saw paradise, where a shepherd was tending his flocks, wearing a bright white robe and a wreath of roses. Eve had the dream again the following night, but with Abel's body in front of his altar and the sound of Cain's wails of despair. The vision returned with Abel as the shepherd in paradise, wearing the blood red roses.

Lilies  Lilies
Lily, or Lilium Candidum, Family: N.O. Liliaceae, common names are Asiatic Lilies, Oriental Lilies and Madonna Lily. The lily gets its name from the Greek name leirion and the Roman name lilium. Lilies grow all around the northern Hemisphere. They are divided into five groups: Asiatic Lilies; Oriental Lilies; Tiger Lilies; Trumpet Lilies; Turks Cap Lilies.

The Madonna Lily is a symbol of purity, and became known as the Madonna Lily, the white ones being associated with the Holy Virgin by Christians. Christians believe that the lily had been yellow until the Virgin Mary picked it up. Lilies are a symbol of fertility, being used as a wedding flower, and also of death, being placed on graves. It is said that lilies spontaneously appeared on the graves of people executed for crimes they did not commit. Dreaming of lilies in spring signifies marriage, happiness and prosperity. Dreaming of lilies in winter signifies frustration of hopes and the premature death of a loved one.

In history, white lilies were used as medicines: The Romans cured corns with the juice from lily bulbs; The Spaniards believed that eating a lily's petals would restore someone who had been transformed into a beast back into human form;

In medieval times, lilies symbolized feminine sexuality.

Carnations  Carnations
Carnation, Dianthus caryophyllus, Family Caryophyllaceae.
Carnations were first discovered in the Far East. They were very important to the Greeks and Romans. The Romans also called it 'Jove's flower', Jove being one of the most admired gods in the time of their peak in civilization. In ancient Greece they were the most adored flowers. Koreans believed that carnations could tell fortunes, putting a cluster of three carnations in a girls hair. If the bottom flower died first she would be miserable for the rest of her life, if the top one died first her last years would be very difficult, and if the middle one died first, her earlier years in life would be hard.

The carnation is a national symbol of Slovenia, being put on cradles to mean love to the child, a gift of God. The red carnation represents charity and love, and used in a corsage for a bride, particularly with rosemary and geraniums, means love, fidelity and hope. In the state flower of Ohio, the scarlet carnation was viewed as the good-luck flower for President McKinley. After he had given the carnation he wore to a child, he was moments later assassinated, and subsequently, the carnation became the state flower.

The Crusaders were stricken with plague, in the 13th century, and they mixed the leaves of carnations with wine and drank it to control the fever. In the 16th century the flowers of carnations and sugar, were used to expel fevers and poison. Carnations were also used for black hair dye and to flavour beer, ale, and wine.
The carnation is the flower for January.
A pink carnation is the flower for Mother's Day, symbolising 'always on my mind'.
Red is for passion, white for sweet, lovely and good luck, but beware, striped carnations represent a refusal.
In Canada you wear a red carnation if your mother is still alive or a white carnation if your mother has died.
In Victorian language of flowers, the carnation is a good-luck gift to a woman.

These are just a few examples of popular flowers and their meanings. Every flower has a different meaning, the most common meaning being love and different messages surrounding this. Other flowers conveying love include chrysanthemums (especially red), ivy (fidelity), iris (burning love), lemon blossom, myrtle, tulips (especially red, but also white meaning 'I am worthy of you'), veronica (fidelity), bluebell (everlasting love), agapanthis (secret love), ambrosia ('your love is returned'), aster, daisy (loyal love and innocence), forget-me-not, primrose ('I cannot be without you') and stephanotis (happiness in marriage). There are many other situations you can send flowers for, including a present to say thank you, congratulations, funeral and sympathy and/or remembrance, good luck, Christmas, anniversary, Easter, new baby, Valentines Day,. There are many lists to be found expressing the meanings of all the different flowers. Also, florists will be able to produce a floral arrangement ready for delivery, knowing which flowers convey a particular message.





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