Flower Meanings Decoded:
Alstromeria: Also known as the Peruvian Lily, this flower stands for friendship, wealth and prosperity.
Amaryllis: Named for the tragic heroine of a Greek myth, this tall, showy flower symbolizes supreme beauty, determination and pride.
Anemone: With their delicate petals, anemones symbolize fragility and also anticipation. They are also thought to protect against evil.
Anthurium: This heart-shaped flower, with its prominent central stalk or “spadix,” stands for hospitality and also masculinity. It is sometimes called “Boy Flower.”
Bird of Paradise: This colorful and striking flower can stand for joyfulness, anticipation and paradise itself. It is also traditionally associated with the ninth wedding anniversary.
Baby’s Breath: These small white blooms, often used as accent flowers in bouquets, can symbolize purity, innocence and everlasting love, but also festivity.
Begonias: These small flowers have a rich and layered meaning associated with them. Thought to carry a message of caution or warning, they are associated with the power of foresight and deep wisdom. They also symbolize mystery.
Calla Lily: This trumpet-shaped white flower carries a double-meaning. On the one hand, it can symbolize purity and innocence and is often used in bridal bouquets and arrangements. On the other hand, it can stand for resurrection and is a popular choice for funerals and wakes.
Carnations: Generally, Carnations symbolize love and beauty, but each color carries a particular meaning. Red is associated with deep romantic love and admiration, while pink stands for motherly love. Yellow carnations can stand for rejection or contempt, while white stands for innocence, purity and good luck. Purple carnations symbolize unreliability and capriciousness, so be wary of giving these as a gift. Striped carnations are traditionally regarded as a symbol of refusal.
Chrysanthemum: These striking flowers typically symbolize optimism and longevity. In Japan, the unfolding of the chrysanthemum’s petals during blooming season is representative of perfection itself and the phenomenon is celebrated during the “Festival of Happiness.”
Daffodil: A beacon of spring, this bright yellow stalk stands for chivalry and also for rebirth and luck in the future. Be mindful to only give daffodils in bunches, as a single daffodil can actually signify misfortune.
Daisy: Like many other white flowers, daisies signify innocence and purity. They are also associated with loyalty in love.
Freesia: These highly fragrant, brightly colored flowers are thought to represent friendship, thoughtfulness and spiritedness. They are also the flower associated with 7th wedding anniversaries.
Gardenia: Actually part of the coffee family, this flowering shrub produces heavily scented cream white flowers which signify joy and sweetness. They are also a symbol of secret love.
Hyacinth: The hyacinth flower conveys a variety of meanings – blue hyacinth can represent constancy and sincerity, while pink and red represent playfulness. Purple can signify sorrow, yellow jealousy, and white, loveliness.
Hydrangea: These bushy and highly recognizable flowers are most often found in shades of purple and blue. They represent sincere and heartfelt emotions and when given as a gift, convey that the sender is grateful for the recipient’s understanding.
Iris: This spring flower represents inspiration, hope, faith and wisdom. Dark purple varieties are associated with royalty in certain parts of the world, while yellow irises signify passion.
Lilac: The purple lilac is traditionally associated with the sweetness of first love, and the lilac flower generally denotes innocence and youthfulness.
Lily: Lilies come in many different varieties, with stargazer lilies symbolizing wealth, white lilies representing virtue, purity and chastity, and lilies of the valley representing devotion. Interestingly, lilies are associated with virginity and the Virgin Mary in Christian lore, while they stood as a symbol of deep eroticism for the Greeks.
Orchid: The orchid plant symbolizes beauty, delicacy, refinement, and the exotic. For the ancient Greeks it was also representative of virility.
Peony: These large, showy blooms are associated with happiness in marriage and good fortune, but can also signify bashfulness and shame. They are the national floral emblem of China and are traditionally regarded as the 12th wedding anniversary flower.
Ranunculus: This unique flower, with its many-layered petals and bright colors, symbolizes radiant and exuberant charm.
Rose: Roses symbolize love, and specific sentiments can be grouped by color. See our “Rose Meanings” section for more.
Snapdragon: These popular stalky flowers have a double meaning. On the positive side, they symbolize graciousness, while its negative connotations include concealment, duplicity and presumptuousness. It is said that hiding a snapdragon on one’s person will make the wearer appear congenial and interesting.
Sunflower: Another flower with a double meaning, sunflowers unsurprisingly symbolize the sun and the qualities of warmth, adoration and devotion. On the other hand, they can also convey pride or snobbishness.
Tulip: Hailing originally from Turkey and Persia, the tulip is another flower whose meaning varies with color. Red tulips stand as a declaration of love and can symbolize “perfect love.” Purple tulips convey royalty. Yellow tulips are associated with cheerfulness, and white signify forgiveness, purity and newness.
Violet: This deep blue or purple flower symbolizes fidelity and love. In Christian lore, it is associated with the chastity and modesty of the Virgin Mary.
Zinnia: This flower is associated with thoughts or remembrance of friends, but can also mean dedicated and lasting love in its deep pink and scarlet varieties.