Interflora flowers

The meaning of flowers

Throughout history and across the globe, plants and flowers have been given significant meanings and symbolisms, creating a whole new language that has evolved from the practice of giving and receiving flowers. The idea was first encouraged in England in 1716 by Lady Mary Wortley Montague, wife of the English Ambassador to Turkey, who observed this tradition at the Sultan’s court.

The popularity of floral language grew in Victorian times when it became an expressive, though discreet, method of communication for both men and women. Not only did flowers themselves have meaning, but their position was crucial too. Wearing a marigold in the hair expressed mental anguish while the same flower pinned to the bosom conveyed indifference.

The language of flowers is still observed, though probably not consciously, by many brides as they make their choice of wedding bouquet. Here is a list of our favourites:

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) – splendid beauty, pride
Arum lily, calla (Zantedeschia) – magnificent beauty
Bluebell (Scilla) – constancy, forgive and forget
Campanula – white – gratitude
Carnation – red – ‘alas for my poor heart’; striped – refusal; yellow – disdain; pink – woman’s love
Cockscomb celosia – affectation, individuality
Chrysanthemum – red – ‘I love you’; yellow – slighted love; white – truth
Daffodil – regard, chivalry
Dahlia – good taste
Forget-me-not (Myosotis) – true love, ‘the key to my heart’
Freesia – friendship
Garden Pink (Dianthus) – pure love
Gladiolus – strength of character
Hyacinth – blue – constancy; white – unobtrusive loveliness
Iris – yellow – flame of love
Lilac (Syringa) – purple – first emotions of love; white – youthful innocence
Longi Lily (Lilium longiflorum) – pure and modest
Lily of the valley (Convallaria) – return of happiness
Love lies bleeding (Amaranthus) – hopeless, not heartless
Mimosa (Acacia) – sensitivity, secret love
Narcissus – self-esteem, female ambition
Orange blossom – bridal festivities, virginity, ‘your purity equals your loveliness’
Orchid – longevity, elegance
Peony – bashfulness
Ranunculus –’you are rich in attractions’
Rose – symbolises love and good fortune and the colours have meaning too:

  • white – truth
  • white with pink blush – ‘only for thee’
  • bright pink – ‘meet me by moonlight’
  • single stem – simplicity
  • red and white – unity
  • red – eternal love

Rudbeckia – justice
Snowdrop – hope
Solidago – encouragement
Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum) – purity
Stock (Matthiola) – lasting beauty
Sunflower dwarf – adulation
Sweet pea – departure, delicate pleasures
Tuberose – dangerous pleasure
Tulip – red – declaration of love; striped – beautiful eyes
Veronica – fidelity
Violet – faithfulness, modesty