In the past, there was an entire language dedicated to flowers and their respective meanings. Books explaining how to effectively use flowers to communicate were found in many homes. The pages were well-worn from constant use; for flowers were a part of life in those days. Flowers were even a factor in entertainment like Shakespeare’s many detailed passages mentioning carnations, roses, violets, daffodils, lilies and more.
Although the way flowers are used to communicate has changed over the years, there are still times where flowers are the most appropriate way to express a feeling or sentiment.
However, it can be difficult to identify those moments and know which flowers are appropriate. We wanted to put together a list of times in life where flowers are appropriate and which flowers to send in those cases.
Love is a many-splendored thing, and it happens to be the most common reason for sending and receiving flowers. The holiday Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest times for a florist. Anniversaries are another time sending flowers to express love is appropriate.
A great way to keep the romance alive and well in your relationship is by little, unexpected gestures of affection. Handwritten notes hidden for your partner to find as a surprise will create joy that spreads and enhances your relationship. Flowers delivered unexpectedly is another way to let your partner know that you are still passionately in love.
Of course, when a romance is in the beginning stages, flowers can send a message of intent or interest. A gift of flowers on one of the first few dates is not given as often as they once were but are a way to let someone know that you feel the date is special.
Flowers for love remain consistent, but different flowers do convey different types or stages of love. Also, certain flowers may be grouped together to give a bouquet or arrangement even more meaning.
Some flowers of love are red roses and tulips, and for a more intense sentiment, violets communicate to a recipient that he or she occupies your thoughts. Anemones mean unfading love, and similarly, baby’s breath means love everlasting. These can be paired with the other flowers of love to let the recipient know that this love is not impulsive; this love is meant to last.
Gardenias can signal a secret love but can also mean an old-fashioned love that spans years, and lilac is a symbol of first love. For denoting charm and attraction, ranunculus flowers are a beautiful, colorful gift. For a symbol of a happy life and beauty that won’t be blemished by age, Matthiola incana is a delicate flower with a spicy scent that is an interesting addition to a romantic arrangement.
Rejection, Anger and Jealously
It might seem strange to send a flower for a negative sentiment, but at one time, it was common practice for rejection to be communicated with a flower. If rejection wasn’t bad enough, some flowers can convey jealously, warnings of danger and even deep hatred.
Yellow carnations meant disappointment, and striped carnations were a signal of refusal. Orange lilies convey hatred. Cyclamens let someone know that a relationship has ended. Sweet pea means goodbye.
Marigolds mean cruelty, despair or jealousy. Tansies represent hostility or a declaration of war. Rhododendron is a warning that means danger. Begonias are another warning, as they can covey dark thoughts. Yellow chrysanthemums can mean love that has suffered wrongdoings. Yellow hyacinths are for jealously.
Flowers with negative sentiments aren’t as widely known, recognized or sent with ill-intent, as they once were. It is a good idea to know what the flowers you send mean, just in case the recipient does. You don’t want to send an unintended declaration of war.
Speaking of negative messages, the presentation of a bouquet also affected its meaning. For instance, flowers given upside down gave the bouquet the opposite meaning that its flower would have normally, and wilted, dying flowers were not a well-received gift.
Friendship and Affection
Friends are an important part of life, and sometimes, we take them for granted. If you have good friends who have always been there for you, consider giving them a small token every now and then to let them know how grateful you are to have them in your life.
Like the opening song on the television show, The Golden Girls’ lyric stated, “Thank you for being a friend.”
For a steadfast friend who has always had your back, alstroemerias mean devotion and friendship. Zinnias are for lasting affection, especially for absent friends, which makes them a great way to get back in touch. Geraniums can symbolize comfort and true friendship.
If you have a friend going through a tough time, gerbera daisies represent cheerfulness. Calle lilies mean magnificent beauty. Yellow tulips are for warmth. These flowers are all beautiful and have a positive message.
Dwarf sunflowers mean adoration, and they are certain to brighten someone’s mood and room. Ivy means friendship and fidelity. White hyacinth conveys loveliness and prayers for someone.
Gratitude and Congratulations
Life is about sharing in the successes and failures of those we love. Being there for other people feels good, and if you are there for others, one day when you need help, you won’t be alone.
If someone you know is celebrating an accomplishment, navigating a change in life or deserving of some gratitude, flowers are a good way to send a very positive message.
Peonies are flowers for a happy marriage, so send them as congratulations to newlyweds or for friends or family celebrating a wedding anniversary. Another positive marriage message can be conveyed with orange blossoms, as they mean fruitfulness in marriage. Myrtle means both good luck and luck in marriage.
Pink heather is for wishing someone good luck. Apple blossoms also wish good fortune. Pink carnations signify gratitude. White carnations are a gift of good luck meant specifically for a woman. Hydrangeas represent heartfelt emotion, which is why they are popular wedding flowers, but white hydrangeas were once a symbol of vanity. Pink roses can convey admiration, as well as, friendship.
There are many more options for flowers to convey gratitude and congratulations, as there are many different reasons for these sentiments. Whatever flower you choose will let someone know that you share their joy, and joy is something that should be shared.
Sympathy and Loss
It can be difficult to help someone who is grieving. It is hard to know what to say, and sometimes, the right words are elusive. Flowers have been sent to convey sympathy for a long time, and many flowers can let someone know you are there for them during a difficult time.
Lilies are a common sympathy flower because they represent innocence restored to the soul of the departed, which is a nice, comforting sentiment. Red carnations mean admiration, and pink mean remembrance, so both are appropriate for sympathy flowers. Gladiolus mean remembrance. Chrysanthemums are another common sympathy flower and represent a full life well-lived.
Orchids are a thoughtful sympathy gift. They express sympathy and eternal love. When properly cared for, an orchid can also be a keepsake that will outlast cut flowers.
The most important thing you can do for people when they are grieving is just to be there, whether to listen, to help or just sit quietly and pass the time with them until they can start to feel better. Everyone grieves differently, so just let the person know how much you care and that he or she is not alone.
These are just a few flowers and the meanings and uses associated with them. The world of flowers is vast. Since the combinations of flowers affect the meaning, there are endless ways to convey any kind of sentiment with flowers.
If you have something you want to say with an arrangement or bouquet, our florists at Oakbrook Florist serving locations in and around East Palo Alto, CA, would be glad to design something specifically for you and whatever sentiment you need to express.