Birthstones, zodiac signs, Lunar New Year animals—you can choose from countless colorful and fun symbols to represent your birthday and give you insight into your personality…and maybe even your future. Birth flowers often fall to the wayside, but they're just as rich in meaning and lore. The history of birth flowers actually dates back to the Victorian era of the late 19th and early 20th century, when public interest in botany and classical mythology were exploding and flower pressing and collecting were fashionable hobbies. In a nod to science, each birth flower blooms during or around the month it represents; in a more mythical sense, each bloom also matches its month's temperament and attributes. You might remember how in Disney's Alice in Wonderland, set in Victorian England, Alice sings about how she learned "from the flowers" that the month of June has a "wealth of happiness and romance"—which is exactly what its birth flower, the rose, symbolizes. There are often two birth flowers associated with each month, so we'll dive into each of the garden blooms in this guide.
Whether chosen for their significance in Greek mythology or Victorian healing rituals, birth flowers offer specific insights into the month they represent and the people born during it. Spring flowers aren't the only ones around, either. Each birth flower is beautiful in its own way, so you can incorporate it not just in your garden but in your home decor and even your wardrobe. Get ready to find your new signature bouquet, scent, or decorating motif. We highlight all 24 birth flowers ahead, along with detailed accounts of the ideas and myths each of the birth flowers symbolizes.
January - Carnation
Dating all the way back to the ancient Greeks who used carnations in garlands and as home decorations, each color carnation holds a slightly different meaning. They're most commonly seen in shades of red and pink, hues that symbolize deep love and admiration. Yellow, however, symbolizes disappointment or rejection. Any color of striped carnation conveys regret.
January - Snowdrop
As one of the first flowers to bloom, often peeking up through the snow, snowdrops are seen as a symbol of hope and new beginnings. This flower also represents the Greek goddess Persephone; it signaled that she was coming up from the underworld to usher in a new spring.
February - Violet
Resilient in nature, these common houseplants bloom in the depths of winter. In the Regency era, a gift of violets was a declaration of true intentions. That goodwill has carried on: Today violets of any color symbolize modesty, faithfulness, innocence, and everlasting love.
February - Iris
The most intellectual of spring flowers, irises often represent wisdom and courage. Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, this flower also symbolizes the link between the earth and the heavens. These days, they are also commonly associated with the passion of Christ and the resurrection, probably because the flower blooms in spring around Easter.
March - Daffodil
Because of their early blooming in the first days of spring, daffodils are said to represent rebirth and new beginnings. In France, daffodils are a symbol of hope. However, gifting someone a single stem is bad luck, so always deliver a bunch.
March - Sakura
The national flower of Japan, the sakura—more commonly known as the cherry blossom—represents a time to reflect on renewal and optimism. These stunning pink blooms mark the end of winter and signify the beginning of springtime.
April - Daisy
Long a symbol of friendship, innocence, purity, and love, the daisy has no negative connotations. In Norse mythology, the daisy is the symbol of love, beauty, and fertility. Given between friends, a daisy is representative of a good secret keeper.
April - Tulip
The national flower of Holland, tulips symbolize fame and perfect lovers and can be a declaration of true love. Variegated or striped tulips, however, are a subtle way to tell someone they have beautiful eyes.
May - Lily of the Valley
An aggressive grower, lily of the valley can spread rapidly, often covering entire fields. With its dainty and sweet-smelling blooms, the flower is known to represent sweetness and purity. Because it appears as a prelude to summer, it can also signify a return to happiness. Just be aware that it's toxic to people and animals.
May - Hawthorn
Signifying the optimism that May can bring, hawthorn flowers are often used to represent hope and supreme happiness. These blooms also have a long medicinal history, having been used in ancient times to treat anxiety, digestive problems, and various skin conditions.
June - Rose
While there are more than a hundred types of roses, their essential meaning is the same: love. Different colors say something different, though. Red symbolizes long-lasting romantic love; orange, excitement and desire; and yellow, joy and friendship. The ancient Romans viewed roses as a representation of death and rebirth, often planting them on graves.
June - Honeysuckle
Sweet smelling and tasting, honeysuckle can be found all over the world. Symbolizing the bonds of love and enduring connections, this flower is perfect for both friends and loved ones alike. This flower also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine.
July - Larkspur
Despite its poisonous nature, larkspur is a symbol of positivity and dedication. Towering over other plants in vibrant shades of purple and blue, it was used as a protectant against ghosts and magic in Victorian times. It was also one of George Washington's favorites.
July - Water Lily
Water lilies have a very rich history dating back centuries. Having been celebrated in art, literature, and even medicine, water lilies are associated with a new dawn, rebirth, spiritual growth, and renewal.
August - Gladiolus
With its sword-like shoots, the gladiolus has long stood for strength, victory, healing, and honor. It's a traditional gift for people with strong moral character and high intelligence. In ancient Rome, crowds would shower the winners of gladiatorial contests with stems of gladiolus.
August - Poppy
Historically, red poppies have meant pleasure, sleepiness, and oblivion. (Just like in The Wizard of Oz.) However, they also can symbolize dreaminess and the line between reality and imagination. These days, they're also used to memorialize soldiers who've been lost in action.
September - Aster
Once a symbol of revolution, the aster is now commonly used to remember soldiers lost at war. It also symbolizes patience, wisdom, and beauty, and so is a traditional 20th wedding anniversary gift. The star-shaped flower was sacred to the ancient Greek and Roman gods. It's also one of the most deer-resistant plants for your garden.
September - Morning Glory
Morning glories have a long history of medicinal use, treating everything from headaches to rheumatism. But these colorful blooms are also known to represent unrequited love, affection, and the fleeting beauty of life, so they're perfect for the transitional month of September as it leads into fall.
October - Marigold
Used to string garlands and pave altars for Mexico's Día de Muertos festivities, marigolds can be associated with death, grief, and the coming of winter, but they're also a bright light in the dark. According to Indian traditions, no wedding is complete without marigolds to confer brightness on the newlyweds.
October - Cosmos
Like the balancing scales of the Libra zodiac sign, cosmos flowers represent inner peace and equilibrium. This flower has been grown and cultivated for centuries and was beloved by the Mayan people for its beauty and healing properties.
November - Chrysanthemum
Hardy chrysanthemums convey loyalty, friendship, and joy. This bloom is also one of the national flowers of Japan, where it's the emblem of the imperial family and a sign of health and longevity. Chinese lore holds that chrysanthemums can promote a longer life and ward off gray hair. No wonder it's such a popular tea!
November - Peony
Like their petals, peonies have a layered meaning. Historically they've symbolized shame, but today they impart hope for a happy life or a happy marriage when used in wedding florals. And similar to those born in November (Scorpios, looking at you), Peonies can be uses to convey passion and high spirits.
December - Narcissus
A cousin of the daffodil, the narcissus (also known as the paperwhite) stands for purity and unconditional love. While some believe the flower has negative connotations due to its Grecian namesake, the vain demigod Narcissus who drowned after falling in love with his own reflection in a pond, a gift of the flower conveys a truly selfless message: "You are the one."
December - Holly
Often used in holiday decorations, holly represents protection, happiness, and goodwill. Mirroring the festive season's spirit of joy, holly plants were beloved by the ancient Romans for their beauty and symbolic nature.
You Might Also Like