Beautiful flowers are a classic gift for nearly every holiday and special occasion. Whether you're sending a ceremonious birthday bouquet or thanking your dinner party host, flowers are a great way to say, well, anything! Many flowers get their name from the way they look, where they grow, or how they're categorized in the scientific nomenclature, but sometimes their name has nothing to do with their meaning. The world of flowers and symbolism can be a minefield. The only difference between a bloom that means romance and a bloom that means rejection might be the color of the petals. The last thing you want is to accidentally profess your love to your coworker or send funeral flowers to a housewarming.
The meaning of flowers is as much about societal context as it is historical origin. Birth month flowers and zodiac flowers have their own unique symbolism, whereas a flower's true meaning may be different. Flower symbolism and meanings can change over time too. For instance, the calla lily is a staple in wedding bouquets today, but it used to be the most popular flower for adorning caskets.
No matter why you need to buy flowers—even if it's just to display them on your coffee table—it's good to know what they stand for. Learn about 20 of the most popular flowers and their meanings, symbolism, and historical significance.
If someone's always on your mind, you should send them daffodils. The sunny blooms represent unequalled love and send messages like, "You're the only one" and "The sun is always shining when I'm with you."
Hyacinths represent a bold rashness or sporting attitude. While purple also represents an apology, blue and red blooms symbolize consistency and playfulness.
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.
Symbolizing love and daintiness, a bouquet of asters is perfect for a budding relationship.
Carnations typically symbolize feminine love and fascination. However, the meaning of carnations depends on their color. Pink ones say, "I'll never forget you."
Like carnations, different colors of chrysanthemum have different meanings. Red mums say, "I love you," while white mums stand for truth. Yellow and orange mums, on the other hand, communicate slighted or unrequited love—so send some to your crush on Valentine's Day.
They now stand for beauty and commitment, but calla lilies have historically been used for funerals and on caskets.
Symbolizing a forsaken feeling or an unplaced anticipation, a bunch of anemones is the perfect pick-me-up for a friend who feels a bit lost.
As you might guess from their sunny disposition, sunflowers symbolize lasting happiness and a long, fulfilling life.
Daisies are simple. They symbolize youth, purity, innocence, and loyal love. Include these happy flowers in a mixed bouquet for someone you're in a new relationship with or for a longtime ride-or-die friend.
Historically, red poppies have meant pleasure, sleepiness, and oblivion. (Just like in The Wizard of Oz.) These days, they symbolize remembrance for military members who've been lost in action.
Like carnations and mums, the meaning of a rose depends on the color of its petals. Pink roses are a plea to believe the giver. They can also represent perfect happiness. If a fickle friend or ex-lover sends you pink roses, proceed with caution.
This sweet-smelling flower represents self-reflection and inner strength. Give them to a friend who's fresh off a breakup or to someone you love on their birthday to encourage a year of personal growth ahead.
Black-eyed Susans may have gotten their name from a romantic poem, but their current meaning is all about justice and seeking revenge.
Arguably the most romantic flower out there, red roses have always stood for romance and eternal love. There's no clearer way to express heartfelt feelings.
Like their soothing scent, lavender flowers represent purity, silence, devotion, serenity, grace, and calmness. Purple is the color of royalty and symbolizes elegance, refinement, and luxury.
Today, dahlias symbolize beauty, commitment, and kindness. They're also tied to steadfastness and resilience due to their long growing season. They continue to bloom long after many summer flowers have died.
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.
Like daisies, white roses symbolize innocence and purity. They're also a way to tell someone "I'm worthy of you" or "you're heavenly"—or to capture a feeling of secrecy and silence.
Freesias represent friendship and a high level of trust. Botanist Christian F. Ecklon named the bloom after his friend, Dr. Fredrick Freese, as a symbol of their friendship.
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