How to Speak the Language of Flowers

With spring in full swing, many kinds of blossoms and buds are popping up. But did you know that each flower has a special meaning behind it? Depending on the species, color, and culture, they can take on a multitude of expressions — from love to hate, affection to grief, and of course everlasting beauty.

But where did this obscure form of communication originate?

What is Floriography?

While this flowery language has been utilized for centuries across the globe, it particularly became popular during the Victorian Era. In fact, the practice was so common, that almost all Victorians owned a guidebook to understanding this intricate form of communication!

Floriography, or “the language of flowers,” was a cryptic messaging system that helped people deliver secret messages that couldn’t be spoken aloud. Aside from the flowers themselves within the bouquet, other factors added nuance to an already perplexing message such as:

  • Presentationgiven upside down (meaning the opposite of what is traditionally meant); ribbon tied to the left (symbolism applies to the giver) or right (symbolism applies to the recipient)
  • Deliveryhanding over with one’s right (meaning “yes”) v.s. left hand (meaning “no”)
  • Condition of Flowers wilted v.s. fresh
  • Colorse.g. pink camellias (meaning “longing for you”) v.s. red camellias (meaning “you’re a flame in my heart”)

When combined, a simple bouquet can suddenly have a plethora of meaning and emotion behind it.

Courtesy of Planterra Conservatory.

Picking the Perfect Posies

Knowing this, you can arrange your own specially curated bouquets for your loved ones too! Below are some recommendations for upcoming events:


The flowers suggested below are sure to be a standout from the typical cash, toys, or technology you might give someone.

  • Purple or pink tulips — platonic love; admiration
  • Lilies — happiness; positivity
  • Any kind of flower they like
Courtesy of iStock/Alona Hrinchenko

Mother’s Day

These beautiful blossoms listed below can be a classic show of affection for your mom (or moms!).

  • Pink roses — elegance; sweetness; appreciation
  • Yellow roses — joy; friendship
  • Pink carnations — motherly love
  • Peonies — prosperity; good fortune

Note: Peonies in particular are in season during May, so now would be a good time to potentially purchase some!

Courtesy of iStock/LegART


As the school year comes to a close, many students will be graduating from RHS — so why not get your fellow peers a bouquet to congratulate them? Here are some popular picks:

  • Purple Amaryllis — associated with congratulating someone
  • Red Amaryllis — admiration; strength; confidence
  • Purple Hydrangeas — deep understanding and learning
  • White Hydrangeas — renewal; gratitude; sincerity
  • Chrysanthemums — wish receiver happiness/success; rebirth (China); luck (China)
Courtesy of iStock/Tatyana Azarova

So the next time you go outside, why not pay attention to the wildlife around you? They may very well be trying to tell you something.

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