Giving a fresh-picked bouquet to a loved one always seems like a symbol of affection, but there's more to the story. Flowers can convey a variety of messages from the giver to the recipient, adding another reason to bring particular flowers into your home or incorporate them into a gift for your partner, friends, or family. From thanking someone for their loyal friendship to welcoming your new neighbors to the neighborhood, you can say it with the right bouquet.
Whether you’re selecting specimens for your own garden, creating an arrangement for a special occasion, or sending a beautiful bouquet to a loved one, understanding the meaning behind each flower will give those blooms special significance beyond the beauty they add to your space.
Read on to discover the meanings behind your favorite flowers.
Looking for a housewarming gift for a friend, or a little something to welcome a new neighbor? Anthurium makes the ideal flowering houseplant for these situations—not only because of its long association with hospitality, but also because of its vivid red coloring and attractive, elegant shape. With proper care, potted anthurium will produce flowers on and off throughout the year.
Bird of Paradise
With their characteristic vivid, bursting orange and blue petals, the flowers of this iconic tropical plant symbolize joy and freedom. Include cut bird of paradise flowers in a celebratory bouquet for a loved one, or purchase a potted bird of paradise plant to mark a special occasion and beautify your space for years to come.
The graceful blooms of the calla lily are a striking symbol of magnificence and beauty. After all, their name comes from the Greek word for beautiful, and according to Greek mythology, their breathtaking appearance made the love goddess Aphrodite jealous. These connotations make this elegant flower a meaningful addition to bridal bouquets and wedding centerpieces.
To show support, faithfulness, or loyalty to a friend, family member, or partner, give the gift of chrysanthemums. Add these full, starburst-shaped blooms to arrangements to show your loved one that you’re by their side. A potted chrysanthemum will serve as a reminder of your fidelity when it blooms each autumn.
In many parts of North America, daffodils are the first blooms to appear in springtime. With these cheery, perennial yellow flowers leading the way for the season’s parade of ephemeral blooms, it’s no wonder that daffodils have come to symbolize gallantry, courtesy, and generosity. Be sure to give them in bunches, however—a single daffodil has been known to symbolize misfortune.
With their white petals, golden center, and simple shape—one of the first that young children learn to draw—it’s no wonder that daisies have come to symbolize innocence and purity. These sunny, cheerful flowers make a great addition to arrangements for baby showers or to welcome new parents home from the hospital. They can also be given to celebrate a new beginning or phase of life.
This delicate flower—ironically, a member of the coffee family— symbolizes sweetness and purity. With their intoxicating scent and elegant, rose-like petals against shiny green foliage, white gardenias in particular are often used in wedding bouquets and corsages.
If you want to send a strong message with a bouquet or potted ornamental plant, consider the hydrangea. With vivid, sometimes variegated coloring and large, exuberant masses of blooms, hydrangeas are the perfect flower to communicate heartfelt emotion. Build a mixed arrangement around a single stem, or make a bold statement with an all-hydrangea bouquet.
With its attractive purple flowers and heady, calming scent, lavender can cheer you up and chill you out at the same time. When presented together in a bouquet and given as a gift, these blooms symbolize good luck. And with the wide proliferation of lavender-scented products, from essential oils to eye pillows to hand soap, it’s easy to spread the good fortune.
Nearly everything about orchids points to their long association with fertility. Their name comes from the Greek word orchis, which means testicle; in ancient Greece, consuming their tubers was thought to help a man sire a boy. Many orchid varieties also have a yonic appearance. In the Victorian era, particularly rare varieties given as gifts came to symbolize an even stronger passion towards the recipient.
You may feel shy or bashful before sharing your feelings of admiration with a loved one. To express this with flowers, give peonies. While these striking, full-petaled aromatic flowers can also symbolize happiness, the way they blossom indicates their association with bashfulness: over several days, tightly-wrapped peony buds will gradually open into full-blooming glory.
With a striking color and heady scent, a big bunch of just-blooming, long-stemmed roses is the ultimate floral signifier of love and romance. While red roses are most often associated with a declaration of love, other colors have additional significance, too: yellow roses symbolize friendship, pink roses convey thanks and gratitude, and orange roses communicate passion and enthusiasm.
These large, colorful, ray-like blooms have an association with adoration and pure thoughts, thanks to a Greek myth in which a nymph is punished for her admiration of Apollo and buried alive—at which point the sun god turned her into a flower that would follow him across the sky each day out of devotion.
Looking for a way to show your love that doesn’t involve the typical roses? A bouquet of tulips make the perfect springtime bouquet to show a loved one how much you care. For a gift that will remind the recipient of your love for years to come, give the gift of tulip bulbs and help your loved one plant them in their yard in the fall—they’ll come back and bloom every spring.
Malcolm BJ, Tallian K. Essential Oil of Lavender in Anxiety Disorders: Ready for Prime Time? Mental Health Clinician. 2017;7(4):147-155.