What Different Flowers Symbolize
(Check Out "Hot Tips" at the end of this Guide article.)
Click Here to E-mail this Page to a Friend.

Certainly no one will dispute that when we think of a wedding, we think of flowers. Their scent and their color are an almost irreplaceable element of your wedding decor. Whether you select simple arrangements and floral touches, or you go all out, flowers will lend an air to your wedding that no other decoration can quite match.

Many brides and grooms select their flowers based purely on color. Some also consider the type of flowers to set a mood. Roses create a far different feeling than wildflower combinations. Some make selections on the bride's favorite flower or because of budget constraints. There is no right or wrong when it comes to flowers, so long as the rules of good taste and common sense are followed. There may also be a bride and groom who take another point into consideration when making their floral selections. That is what has come to be the meaning of individual flowers, the language of flowers which has come down to us through history.

The symbolic and legendary meanings of flowers dates back to the Elizabethan era, but it was the Victorians who actually assigned simple messages to individual flowers. Flower Language was Introduced to the Swedish court in 1714 by Charles II, and the Victorian mode of flower language spread quickly throughout Europe.

This was a period where expressions of feeling were restricted by etiquette and conformity, so men and women came to use the beauty and color of flowers to express emotions which they could not express in other ways. Flowers became a vehicle for the expression of wishes and thoughts. Flower selection became a carefully thought about and planned activity, so that the appropriate sentiment, though or wish could be conveyed without being spoken. To enhance this Flower Language, presentation also became important and the clever gift-giver could add even more meaning in this way. An upside-down bouquet, for example,.could be used to express the opposite meaning of the flowers. To receive an inverted rose was easily understood to mean rejection.

Flower Language became so much a part of the social culture of the times that durch die Blume sprechen (speaking through flowers) actually became a Western proverb that meant any flowery or poetic expression hiding a secret message of love.

Should you be one of those for whom the Language of Flowers still holds meaning, then the list below will help you to determine the message that your wedding flowers will convey to those "in the know." You may even choose to explain the meaning to your guests by way of a card placed at each table.

Alstromeria is named after the Swedish botanist Baron Klas von Alstroemer. This South American flower's seeds were among many collected by Von Alstroemer on a trip to Spain in 1753.

Apple Blossom signifies better things to come.

Aster (also starworts) is Latin for "star," and refers to the flower's star-like shape. Wort means "root." The word root applied to plants with healing properties, an "industry now experience a resurgence in holistic medicine. There are more than 600 species of aster, the most popular of which is the Monte Casino. Asters are the flower of September, and were the herb of the goddess Venus. The ancients believed that, when burned, the fragrance of the leaves drove away serpents. Asters were placed on the graves of French soldiers to symbolize afterthought and the wish that things had turned out differently. One myth tells that asters were created from stardust when Virgo looked down from the heavens and wept. The poet Virgil believed that the altars of the gods were often adorned with asters. The aster symbolizes afterthought or variety, except in China, where they signify fidelity.

Bird of Paradise
Botanists are divided on how this flamboyant flower got its name. Some claim that the flower's brilliant orange and blue blossom, resembling a bird in flight, is named after the bird of paradise itself one of the most beautiful bird species in the world. The flower is also known as the strelitzia, so some believe that it was named after England's Queen Charlotte, born Charlotte Mecklenber-Strelitz.

The calendula's genus name, wor calendae, means "throughout the months." Of the marigold family, calendula was valued historically for its medicinal and culinary uses. An ancient beverage made from a mixture of calendula blossoms in wine was believed to be an aid in curing indigestion. Calendula petals were commonly used in ointments that cured skin irritations, jaundice, sore eyes, and toothaches. The Romans used calendula mixed with vinegar to season their meat and salad dishes. Early Christians called calendula "Mary's Gold," and placed it by the statues of the Virgin Mary. The most sacred flower of ancient India, calendula stems and flower heads were strung into garlands and placed around the necks of holy statues. The calendula's flower head follows the sun, so it is sometimes called "summer's bride" or "husbandman's dial." In the language of flowers, the calendula flower symbolizes "winning grace."

Camelia symbolizes gratitude.

Originally called dianthus by the Greek botanist Theopharastus, the carnation is native to the Near East and has been cultivated for the last 2,000 years. Some historians believe that the name "carnation" comes from "coronation" or "corone" (meaning flower garlands), because it was one of the flowers used in Greek ceremonial crowns. Others think the name has its origin from the Greek carnis (flesh), referring to the original color of the flower, or incarnacyon (incarnation), which refers to the incarnation of God made flesh. The floral message of the carnation dates back to ancient Rome where the flower was known as "Jove's Flower," The Romans used it in their tribute to one of their beloved gods. The symbolism of the carnation takes on a very serious overtone In Korea. There, a young girl may put three carnations in her hair by which to tell her fortune. Should the top flower die first, her last years of life will be difficult. If the middle flower dies first, her earlier years will bring the most grief. Sadly, if the bottom flower dies first, the girl's fortune is foretold that she will be miserable her whole life. In their color message, carnations are believed to be expressions of love, fascination, and distinction. Light red carnations represent admiration, while dark red denote deep love and affection. White carnations indicate pure love and good luck. Striped ones symbolize a regret that a love cannot be shared. Green carnations are for St. Patrick's Day and purple carnations indicate capriciousness. Pink carnations have the most symbolic and historical significance. According to Christian legend, carnations first appeared on Earth as Jesus carried the Cross. It was then that the Mary shed tears at Jesus' plight Legend tells us that and carnations grew from where her tears fell. It was for this reason that the pink carnation became the symbol of a mother's undying love. In 1907 it was chosen by Ann Jarvis as the emblem of Mother's Day, now observed in the United States and Canada on the second Sunday in May.

Chrysanthemum in red, says "I love you" and in white, symbolizes truth.

Cyclamen symbolizes modesty and shyness.

The daisy's name comes from the Anglo-Saxon "daes eage," or "day's eye," which refers to the way the flower opens and closes with the sun. The daisy is knows as a symbol of childhood innocence and is said to originate from a Dryad who presided over forests, meadows, and pastures. Roman mythological legend tells us that the nymph Belides, as she danced with the other nymphs at the edge of the forest, caught the eye of Vertumnus, the god of the orchards. To escape his unwanted attention, she transformed herself into the flower bellis, which is the daisy's botanical name.

Daisies are often confused with chrysanthemums. The daisy continues to be associated with simplicity and modesty, characteristics carried down from the Victorian era. Heartbroken Victorian young women who wished to be loved once again by their suitors began the custom of using the daisy. That custom is still in use today. In Victorian times is was a young maiden would pluck a daisy's petals one by one and sing, "He loves me, he loves me not," for each petal pulled. The last petal so plucked predicted the future of such love.

Young girls might also pick a handful of daisies with eyes closed. The number of blossoms in hand told of the number of years remaining until marriage. Its simplicity has made the daisy a favorite of many poets. Its healing and predictive powers made it popular not only with farmers, but also with an infamous English king. Spring, medieval farmers would say, would not arrive until one could set a foot on twelve daisies. To dream of daisies in springtime or summer was a lucky omen, but dreams of them in fall or winter meant certain doom. Transplanting wild daisies to a cultivated garden was considered to be very unlucky. King Henry VIII ate dishes of daisies to relieve himself from his stomach-ulcer pain. For then, it was also believed that drinking crushed daisies steeped in wine, in small doses over a period of fifteen could cure insanity.

The message that daisies bring are of innocence, purity, and gentleness on behalf of both the giver and the receiver. The daisy's message is, "You have as many virtues as this plant has petals," or, "I will consider your request." A white daisy symbolizes a common feeling of affection, and a red daisy tells of beauty unknown to the possessor.

Daffodil symbolizes regard.

Forget-me-not symbolizes true love and remembrance.

Heliotrope symbolizes devotion and faithfulness.

Honeysuckle symbolizes generosity.

Hyacinth symbolizes loveliness.

Hydrangea symbolizes boastfulness.

Iris symbolizes warm affection.

Ivy symbolizes eternal fidelity.

Japonica symbolizes loveliness.

Jasmine symbolizes amiability.

Lemon Blossom symbolizes fidelity in love.

Lilac (White) symbolizes youthful innocence.

Lily symbolizes majesty

Lily of the Valley
The Lily of the Valley foretells the return of happiness. One legend describes the affection of a lily of the valley for a nightingale that would not come back to the woods until the flower bloomed in May. So, the Lily of the Valley has come to symbolize Lily of the Valley the return of happiness.

Magnolia symbolizes perseverance.

Maidenhair symbolizes discretion.

Mimosa symbolizes sensitivity.

Orange Blossom symbolizes purity and virginity.

The orchid's name derives from the Greek word "orchis," meaning "testicle." Its history is associated with lust, greed, and wealth. Some orchids are called "ladies' fingers," "ladies' tresses," or "long purples." Orchids were collected extensively during the 1800s. History relays that at one point, four thousand trees were cut down to collect the orchids growing on their branches. One collector alone was believed to have sent hundreds of thousands of orchids to England, where, unfortunately, most of them died.

There are almost 25,000 different types of orchid. Greek women thought they could control the sex of their unborn children with orchid roots. They believed that if the father consumed large, new tubers, the child would be male and, if the mother ate small tubers, the child would be female. The orchid's reproductive behavior has been a basis for study for years amongst botanists for years. The orchid's peculiarity is that for its seed to germinate it needs to be penetrated by fungus threads. The paphiopedilum orchid was named for Phaphos, a temple on Cyprus where the love goddess Aphrodite was worshiped (and where prostitutes were said to be readily available.) The most famous orchid, the vanilla orchid, was said to give strength to the Aztecs, who drank vanilla mixed with chocolate.

The color of the orchid delivers strong messages. It brings a universal message of love, beauty, wisdom, and thoughtfulness. In China it signifies refinement, and the innocence of children. A pink orchid signifies pure affection. The popular cattalya orchid symbolizes mature charm, which is why it's a "natural" for Mother's Day corsages.

Peach Blossom symbolizes a captive heart.

Roses, as indicated by fossil remains, have been around since prehistoric times. The first cultivated roses appeared in Asian gardens more than 5,000 years ago. Introduced in Europe during the Roman Empire, roses were primarily used ornamentally. Cleopatra is said to have scattered rose petals before Mark Anthony's feet and, we are told that Nero released roses from the ceiling during extravagant feasts and banquets.

The rose is one of our most sentimental flowers. Legend has it that roses blushed with shame when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. There is a Roman legend that tells of several suitors bent on marrying a beautiful woman named Rodanthe. She, however, cared for none of them. Not easily deterred, her suitors continued in their efforts to win the fair Rodanthe. They did do with such vehemence that they even resorted to breaking down the doors to her home. Angered by their actions and wishing to teach the zealous suitors a lesson, the Goddess Diana turned Rodanthe into a rose, and her suitors into thorns.

The rose is the flower emblem of England. According to English superstition, should the petals fall from a freshly cut red rose, bad luck follows. The red rose is the badge of the House of Lancaster and the flower of Eros and Cupid. In Wales, the white rose represents innocence and silence, and, as a result, is placed on the grave of a young child. To Native Americans, the white rose symbolizes security and happiness, and is often worn during wedding ceremonies. It is the badge of the House of York and the flower of the Virgin Mary.

The rose is infused with symbolism. It has always meant and continues to be the messenger of love. A single rose symbolizes perpetual love. Two roses of any color taped or wired together signify a commitment or forthcoming marriage.

  • Red Rose symbolizes love, passion, desire and respect.
  • Yellow Rose symbolizes friendship, caring, happiness and freedom.
  • Coral Rose symbolizes desire.
  • Peach Rose symbolizes modesty.
  • Dark Pink Rose symbolizes gratitude and appreciation.
  • Pale Pink Rose symbolizes grace, admiration and sympathetic thoughts.
  • Orange Rose symbolizes fascination and enthusiasm.
  • White Rose symbolizes innocence, reverence, humility and truth.
  • Purple/Lilac Rose symbolizes love at first sight, enchantment
  • Red & Yellow blended symbolizes gaiety and joviality.
  • White and Yellow combined symbolize harmony.
  • Red Roses and White combined symbolize bonding and harmony.

    Rose Trivia
  • The rose is the official flower of Portland, Oregon and the official National Floral Emblem of the United States.
  • The rose is the state flower of Georgia, Iowa, New York, North Dakota and Washington, D.C.
  • About 60% of the roses grown in the U.S. are produced in California.
  • Roses are native to the United States.
  • The month of June is National Rose Month
  • Bulgaria is the primary source of rose oils in Europe.

    "The Legend of the Rose and the Nightingale"
    All roses were once white. One night the Nightingale met a white Rose and fell in Love. His love was so intense that he was inspired to song (for before that, nightingales only croaked and chirped). Eventually his love was such that he pressed himself to the flower and the thorns pierced his heart. He perished, but the Rose was forever colored red.

  • Rosemary symbolizes remembrance.

    Snowdrop symbolizes hope.

    Sweet Pea symbolizes delicate pleasures.

    The tulip originated as a wildflower in Persia. In the 1500s, tulips were extensively cultivated in Turkey. Based on their resemblance to the "tulbend," a turban worn by Turkish men, they were called tulipan. In 1562, tulip bulbs from Constantinople reached Antwerp by ship. Before the turn of the century, tulips had been so rare that only the wealthiest that in Holland could afford them. It was for this reason that tulips became an obvious status symbol for the rich. By the 1620s, merchants the world over began buying and selling tulips. "Tulip madness" was the result. Tulip trading crashed in 1637, throwing Holland into financial ruin. The Dutch government enacted strict laws for cultivating and selling bulbs, and, appropriately, the tulip became the national emblem of Holland.

    Legend tells of a Persian youth, named Ferhad, who fell in love with a young woman named Shirin. She did not reciprocate his feelings for her, so he went out into the desert to die, presumably from a broken heart. As his heart ached, his tears fell into the sand and turned into beautiful tulips. Amongst the Persians, the tulip is an offering a young man makes to his beloved. What he is saying in the Language of Flowers is "as the redness of this flower, I am on fire with love." Shortly after World War II, the Dutch shipped hundreds of thousands of tulip bulbs to Ottawa, the capital of Canada. This symbolic gesture showed their thanks to the Canadian soldiers for freeing Holland from German occupation, and also the way Canada's government welcomed Queen Maria to remain in Ottawa while the during the war.

    Color messages abound with tulips which primarily express a declaration of love in a gift from a lover. Variegated tulips are for "beautiful eyes." Red tulips indicate an irresistible love, and yellow tulips indicate hopeless love that has no chance of reconciliation. Tulips that are combined in color express other messages, Red and yellow roses together are an expression of congratulations, while yellow and orange roses together imply passionate thoughts. Red and white roses signify unity.

    Veronica symbolizes fidelity.

    Violet symbolizes faithfulness

    Should you choose to add a message to your weddings, you now know the Language of Flowers and may convey their sentiment and symbolism to others.
    (Our thanks to FTD for being such a valuable resource).

    Queen Victoria started the romantic gesture of including ivy in the bridal bouquet. After the wedding the ivy can be rooted and then planted as a living reminder of your special day. Perhaps, it might become part of your own daughter's bouquet on her wedding day.

    Click Here To Return to Wedding Guide Index
    Click Here To Return to Welcome Page

    ©The right to download and store or output (e.g., print) materials found in Hudson Valley Weddings Web Site is granted for personal use only. Materials may not be reproduced in any edited form. Any other reproduction or editing by any means mechanical or electronic without the express written permission of Hudson Valley Weddings is strictly prohibited. Certain names, logos, and/or phrases on these pages may constitute trademarks or tradenames of Hudson Valley Weddings or its clients.