In Victorian times, men gave small bouquets of flowers, known as tussie-mussies, to women to convey messages about feelings which they could not openly express. Each type of flower, as well as its color, had a symbolic meaning. Most of the symbolism sank into obscurity as communication between the genders became more open, but some of it has survived, especially when it comes to flower colors.
The red rose is universally known as a symbol of romance and passionate love. In other flowers, this color also symbolizes desire, eroticism, strength, beauty, perfection, courage, power, and heat.
Dark red or burgundy flowers can mean charitable love, death, and mourning. In particular, carnations of this color should not be chosen for any occasion other than a funeral.
This color represents filial love, new love, romance, sweetness, playfulness, grace, gentility, happiness, youth, innocence, and joy. Pink roses are the perfect choice to present to a new lover on your first Valentine’s Day together. Any type of flower in this color will make a good Mother’s Day gift.
The most commonly known connotations are innocence and purity. This color also signifies virtue, modesty, humility, reverence, respect, perfection, hope, sophistication, and elegance. Since white lilies are a very commonly used funeral flower, they should be used very sparingly or not at all in any type of bouquet or floral arrangement.
In historic times, purple was the color of royalty. Very often its use was limited by law or custom to members of this class. Today purple stands for ceremony, dignity, pride, success, accomplishment, and admiration. Flowers of this color are perfect to present as a congratulatory gift to a new graduate or for a promotion.
This color is the symbol of feminine beauty. It embodies refinement, grace, and elegance.
Blue flowers indicate peace, tranquility, serenity, openness, stability, faithfulness, and trust. Flowers of this color can have a calming effect when looked at, so are a good choice for stressful occasions.
This color represents happiness and joy. It also means lightheartedness, friendship, enthusiasm, luxury, success, pride, and new beginnings. Consider giving yellow flowers as a housewarming gift, for hospital visits, or as a pick-me-up for a friend who is going through a rough time.
The color orange suggests fascination, energy, enthusiasm, warmth, confidence, pride, satisfaction, and passion for life.
A relatively new color in the flower palette, peach symbolizes tender love, friendship, appreciation, gratitude, and wisdom. Flowers of this color are an appropriate gift to thank a hostess for an invitation.
Black is power, mystery, elegance; and termination. Black flowers can be given as a farewell gift. If you are dating a Goth, give her a single black rose to express your love. Even if she is not a romantic at heart, she will appreciate the gesture.
This color is a symbol of nature, health, harmony, fertility, wealth, resilience, good fortune, and youth. Ivy in particular represents everlasting love. Pair Ivy with red roses for a powerful statement.
White & Red
These bicolor blossoms stand for unity, togetherness, long-lasting love, and bonding.
Yellow & Red
These two colors in the same flower combine to symbolize falling in love and the start of a new romance.
Blooms of different colors can be combined to express virtually any combination of feelings. So guys: the next time you give flowers, for instance when you pick out the corsage to give to your date on prom night, don’t just match it to the color of her dress. Give her a message instead. You will still need to make sure that the colors don’t clash. And girls: when you receive flowers, see if there may be a hidden meaning to your bouquet.