The Poetry of Petals


Flowers are well known as appropriate gifts for nearly every situation. Flowers can tell that special someone you love them, a sick friend that you’re thinking of them, a new couple that you’re happy for them, and a departed soul that you still remember them. You’ve likely given and received a gift of flowers a few times yourself. However, did you know that almost all flowers carry a specific meaning and emotional message? Learning exactly what fresh flowers says can help you convey a more personal sentiment with your gifts and make more of an impact on the people closest to you. Let’s get into it then, shall we?

The Way of the Roses

Without a doubt, the rose is the most popular, celebrated flower in recent history. There are five main colours, all used to communicate some form of love with an air of elegance. Each have their own subtle nuances, however, so it’s important to understand the distinctions when considering your gift.

  • The traditional red rose is symbolic of beauty and perfection, and renowned the world over as an expression of love and romance. The intention behind a gift of roses is unmistakable, and one of purest, simplest ways to communicate heartfelt adoration. If you want to say “I love you,” whether it be to a significant other or a relative, you can’t go wrong with a bundle of red roses.
  • White roses are another popular choice, symbolizing unity and fresh starts. Long associated with marriage, the bride, in particular, the pure, white colour represents a clean slate and a hopeful future. They possess a quiet, respectful beauty that doesn’t draw attention to itself, making them perfect for both formal and sombre occasions.
  • The pink rose holds a grace and elegance that communicates much of the love of a red rose, but without the element of desire. Traditionally used to show gratitude and appreciation, these make a good gift in almost any situation. Since they don’t have any particular personal connotations, they’re excellent for co-workers and relatives, or just someone you appreciate having around.
  • Most joyous of all the roses, a yellow rose is the traditional symbol of friendship. Their bright, cheerful nature makes them well suited to cheering someone up, such as in the hospital, or sharing their excitement during a celebration. Even without a special occasion, these are the perfect way to brighten someone’s day by letting them know what a great friend they are.
  • Finally, we have the orange rose, a symbol of flaming passion. These are a little in-specific on their exact meaning, but if you have something big burning up inside you and none of the other flowers expresses it strongly enough, these are the best way to make an impression. They’re also a relatively new variety of rose, giving them the advantage of a distinctive, less strictly defined meaning, to have a more personal feel.


A Carnation for Every Occasion

One of the oldest cultivated flowers in the world and a long-standing staple of fashion, the carnation’s popularity exceeds even the rose’s in some areas. Being the official flower of Mother’s Day, carnations, in general, are strongly associated with womanly love and pride, but the individual colours also have their own meanings, especially when given as gifts or worn to a party. Many of these are similar to roses, such as pink representing gratitude, or sometimes remembrance, and red representing love, sometimes admiration, but many of them differ quite significantly.

  • The first thing to remember is that solid colours show agreement or acceptance, while stripes are a sign of refusal. The nature of the refusal can sometimes be gentle, as in a love that has to end. Solid colours are generally preferable though.
  • White carnations symbolize purity and good luck, making them a good choice for first impressions. They are also the most traditional colour for Mother’s Day, and, in the Netherlands, are used to remember war veterans.
  • Purple carnations display a fickle mood. Precisely what this means can depend greatly on the situation. It might be a hopeful sign that things are changing or an omen of disappointment. You generally don’t want your date to show up with one of these.
  • Yellow carries the opposite meaning for carnations as it does for roses, symbolizing rejection and disappointment. You really don’t want your date to show up with one of these.

Lily, Bright and Pretty

Lilies have long been held as a symbol of innocence, humility, and devotion. It seems fitting that they’re the traditional flower of both the second and thirtieth anniversary; specifically white lilies of the valley in the case of the former. They are also the flower most associated with funerals, symbolizing the restoration of innocence to the departed soul. While these remain true across species and colour, a few types do have special significance.

  • The Peruvian lily carries the common theme of devotion into the realm of friendship, specifically. These ornate, playful blooms come in a variety of colours and are one of the best flowers to tell your friends you’re there for them.
  • Stargazer lilies are a fairly modern, and hugely popular, addition to the lily family. Known for their fragrant scent and exotic petals, these are guaranteed to impress whoever receives them. They have two major varieties: pink and white. The white flowers are used to express sympathy, particularly towards grieving families. On the other hand, pink represents prosperity and aspiration, making them excellent gifts for someone going to college or starting a business.

The Colossal Gladiolus

The gladiolus is a flower that grows straight into the air, sometimes up to five feet tall, in the distinctive shape of a sword. Hence its name, derived from the Latin word for sword, Gladius. This is also where the ancient gladiators took their name, and to them, this flower was a symbol of luck and protection in the arena. Thanks to the association with warriors, they have now become associated with strength and integrity. However, it can be a bit tricky to give them as gifts, as in that context they’re believed to be a sign of infatuation, via “piercing the heart.”

Picking Your Flowers

Know that you’re beginning to understand the language of flowers, you might be wondering where to go from here. There are a number of other websites where you can make a purchase or find more information, but in either case, I would recommend looking for a florist in your area first. Not only will it be a lot more atmospheric to discuss flowers in a room full of them, but a florist will help you find things much more tailored things to your personal needs. You’ll be able to pick the exact arrangement of flowers you want in a bouquet, and they’ll be happy to help you understand the deeper symbolism behind, not only the flowers themselves but how they complement one another. It will feel a lot more personal, and whoever receives this gift will be touched by the extra effort, guaranteed.


In Conclusion

I hope this has opened a doorway into the secret speech of flowers. Flowers carry surprisingly intricate messages inside them, and learning to understand and combine them together is a difficult but rewarding process. In time you’ll learn to say everything you feel for someone with a simple bouquet, then you can truly give the gift of flowers.