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  • Els Kenney

floriography: flower symbolism

Floriography—or flower language—is the art of flower symbolism. Each flower, plus the colour and quantity, has its own unique meaning.

Some say floriography dates back to the 17th century, however, the language of flora is most commonly associated with the Victorian Era, during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 - 1901). Flowers were used to communicate feelings and messages where emotions were not allowed to be openly expressed. Bouquets could be used to answer “yes” or “no” questions; “yes” came in the form of flowers handed over with the right hand, but the left hand gives the answer “no.”

How flowers were presented was also an important part of any message. If a bouquet was given upside down, then the message being communicated became the opposite. An attached ribbon had its own meaning too; tied to the left the flowers’ symbolism applied to the giver, whereas tied to the right, the sentiment was in reference to the receiver.

Floriography also played a big part in mythology, folklore, sonnets and plays, such as the work of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charlotte and Emily Bronte. The first written acknowledgement of floriography was called, “La langage des Fleurs,” and was published in 1819 by Louis Cortambert.

Below is an a-z list of major flowers and their meanings:

  • Alchemilla Mollis - Also known as the Lady's Mantle, these signify comforting love, at a time when you want to let someone know you are there for them.

  • Alstroemeria - also known as Peruvian Lilies, this is a flower of friendship, but also represents wealth, prosperity and fortune.

  • Amaryllis - represents value beyond beauty, a truly beautiful meaning!

  • Anemone - this flower has quite a sad associated meaning, as it expresses feeling forsaken or faded hope.

  • Red rose - often associated with Valentine's Day, the ‘lovers rose’ symbolises enduring passion.

  • Carnation - this flower stands for love, fascination and distinction but the colour you choose changes the meaning slightly; light red means admiration, dark red means deep love and affection, white signifies pure love and good luck, and pink represents a mother’s undying love.

  • Chrysanthemum - these intricate blooms represent optimism, joy and long life.

  • Daffodil - it’s no surprise this flower signifies rebirth, new beginnings and good fortune as they welcome springtime. Keep in mind, a single daffodil represents misfortune, so be sure to give a bunch!

  • Dahlia - demonstrates the lasting bond and commitment between two people, perfect for anniversaries.

  • Freesia - a delicate bloom signifying innocence and thoughtfulness.

  • Gerbera - These daisy-like flowers symbolise cheerfulness, loyal love, innocence and purity.

  • Hydrangea - symbolises gratitude for being understood, or represent anything that is sincerely heartfelt.

  • Iris - Named after the Greek Goddess Iris, these flowers symbolise faith, hope and wisdom.

  • Lavender - known to represent purity, silence, grace and calmness.

  • Lavender rose - a delicate coloured rose meaning enchantment and love at first sight.

  • Lily of the valley - This flower signifies sweetness and purity, and appeared in the royal wedding bouquets of both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.

  • Orchid - a well known flower representing rare and delicate beauty.

  • Peach rose - ideal for flower girls, these roses represent modesty and demureness, or alternatively, can be given to someone as a sign that you miss them.

  • Peony - often used in bridal bouquets, peonies represent prosperity, along with a happy life and marriage.

  • Pink Hyacinth - these pretty blooms represent playfulness.

  • Pink rose - this coloured rose represents appreciation and admiration.

  • Poppy - one of the most well known flower meanings, due to Remembrance Day. The poppy represents remembrance and consolation.

  • Sakura - the Japanese term for cherry blossom, these delicate flowers symbolise springtime, a time of renewal, and the fragility of life. Remember to enjoy every moment!

  • Statice - given for remembrance and sympathy, but this flower can also represent success!

  • Stocks - meaning lasting beauty, a happy life and the bonds of affection, perfect for a best friend.

  • Sunflower - Everyone knows the big, cheerful yellow flowers as a symbol of happiness!

  • Sweet William - one of the only flowers symbolising masculinity and gallantry. The name of this flower was typically a character in ballads, known as a noble hero.

  • Tulips - in general this flower represents perfect love. The red tulip however takes this a step further and symbolises true love.

  • White calla lily - these lilies mean beauty, innocence, magnificence and purity.

  • White stargazer lily - a common funeral flower, these lilies represent purity, innocence and sympathy.

  • Yellow rose - this flower represents friendship and joy.

Leave a comment below with your favourite flower and it’s symbolism!


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