The Language of Flowers

  • Interflora

Do you want to send a message of love? Let someone know how much you admire or appreciate them? Whatever you want to say, say it with flowers – after all there’s a variety for practically every feeling you’d ever want to express. Read on to find out more.

What is floriography?

Floriography is another name for the language of flowers. Within the art of floriography, every flower carries its own special meaning or symbolism, according to its variety and colour. Some flowers even take on a new meaning dependent on the number gifted – for example a single red rose denotes ‘love at first sight’, whereas a dozen red roses say ‘be mine’. Once you understand the meaning of flowers, you can start experimenting with different flower content to let your loved one know exactly how you feel about them.

the language of flowers quote

Popular flowers and their meanings

Red rose – passionate love, romance
Pink rose – love, gratitude, appreciation
Yellow rose – friendship, joy, good health
White rose – purity, innocence
Pink carnation – I will never forget you
Chrysanthemum – optimism, honesty
Peony – a happy marriage
Freesia – trust, friendship
Pink hyacinth – playful joy
Poppy – remembrance

The language of flowers – a brief history
Although many credit the Turks for developing flower meanings in the 17th century, the language of flowers is most commonly associated with the Victorian era. It was during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901) that flowers were used to communicate feelings that the strict etiquette of the era would not allow to be openly expressed.

The flowers were sent in the form of small bouquets, known as tussie-mussies or nosegays. They typically consisted of fragrant herbs and a single, meaningful flower wrapped in a lace doily. Suitors presented tussie-mussies to their prospective lovers and watched to see if they were accepted. A tussie-mussie held at heart level indicated joy and acceptance, while one held downwards was a sign of rejection. The giving of flowers could also be used to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. A ‘yes’ answer was indicated by the giving of flowers in the right hand, while the right hand was used to answer ‘no’. In this way, a silent dialogue of flowers was developed.

As the language of flowers became so widely practiced flower dictionaries began to be published all over Europe. It was a useful guide as not only did certain flowers have their own significance, different colour variations of the same stem also denoted different intents and emotions. In fact, when you take into account all the different colour nuances, nearly every sentiment imaginable can be expressed with flowers.

Today, the art of floriography may not be as widely understood or consciously practiced but flowers continue to be exchanged as a way of expressing important feelings. Red roses, for example, which represent romantic love are now intrinsically linked to Valentine’s Day. Wedding bouquets are often filled with hidden symbolism too (did you know that peonies represent ‘a happy marriage’?). See our infographic to help you decide what flower content to include in your next bouquet, depending on what emotion you want to express.

The meaning of flowers infographic

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