Do You Know Your Flower Languages?

Bunch of flowers

If you’re going on a date, greeting an old friend or want to show your condolonces, nothing says it quite like flowers do. But while they might be the traditional choice, and it seems hard to go wrong with such a simple gift, there are some key rules you should know before you splash out on a whole bouquet.

The act of giving flowers comes with its own ‘language’: the colour or type of flower you give can hold different meanings. For this reason, if you don’t want to walk into a massive faux pas with someone who’s well-versed in the meanings, it is important to match the type of flower to the situation.

Flower languages: An age-old custom

Secret flower languages have been around for ages. Although the tradition is thought to come first from Persia, the trend came into prominence in Victorian England in the 1800s, where floral dictionaries were first published in order to list the different meanings of flowers. The art of communicating with flowers is called floriography, and has been passed down to the present day.

Victorian culture was notoriously prudish, and as such lovers had to communicate in secret ways. As such, giving a gift of flowers is a great way to subtly send a message to the one you love and make them feel appreciated, without being too explicit.

Roses: the go-to flower

Bunch of flowers

Roses are notoriously difficult to choose between, with each colour having a different meaning. If you’re buying a flower for a date, a red rose is the safest bet (even if it’s just a single rose rather than a whole bouquet – red roses are more in demand, and so tend to be more expensive!)

Salmon or orange colored roses symbolise desire – which could be perfect for an early date. So, if red roses are out of stock, you know which one to pick next!

If you’re at a wedding, white roses are the way to go. They symbolise innocence and purity, in the same way the bride’s dress traditionally represents chastity.

Whatever you do, don’t go for yellow colored roses on a date – they suggest that you just want to be friends. On the other hand, if you’re trying to show a friend how much you appreciate them without trying to send mixed messages, a yellow rose might be the perfect thing!

What about other flowers?

Don’t feel you just need to stick to roses: there are a wealth of other flowers, each with their own individual meanings. However, depending on the occasion, you might want to be careful about which type of flower you get. Lilies, for example, represent death, which isn’t the sort of thing you’d like to bring along to a first date! Equally, if you are visiting an elderly relative in any of the care homes in London, you might consider finding out what their favourite flower is and gift them a beautiful bouqet – and don’t forget a vase to go with it!

The number can matter as well!

Did you know the number of flowers can also have a meaning? One rose is enough to say thank you (or symbolise desire), while 13 suggests a secret admirer. 

On the plus side, this means that you don’t need to splash out on a whole bouquet – one flower can do the job just as well. 

Flowers not for you?

What do you do if you’re worried about getting the wrong type of flower, or maybe the wrong color? Maybe your partner is even allergic to plants and you don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable! Whatever the reason, don’t feel you need to stick to just one sort of gift: there are loads of alternatives. Food is always appreciated – chocolates, candy bouquets, or fruit baskets can be easily delivered, and are a fun alternative to the traditional bouquet. If you’re feeling nervous about how a person might take your gift, then it can be worth finding out what they like beforehand – they’re sure to be flattered. And, of course, no matter what you get, they are likely to appreciate the gift regardless.


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