Floriography is defined as the language of flowers and the art of communicating through flowers. It is believed that every flower holds a different meaning which is dependent on the variety of flower, the colour of the flower, and in many cases, both the unique combination of flower type and colour influence it’s meaning.
Flower symbolism has been around for thousands of years in various cultures across the world and many flowers derive their meaning from ancient myths. However, Floriography is most commonly associated with the Victorian era when learning the unique symbolism behind each flower became a popular hobby where people would send coded messages to each other through flowers.
Once you learn and understand the language of flowers, giving a floral gift becomes much more meaningful and thoughtful. Use the following guide when next selecting flowers to treat your romantic partner or friend; to express gratitude or sympathy; or celebrate the birth of a baby or other special occasion.
Flowers that express love and romance
Flowers have been the gift of choice for expressing love, romance, and passion for thousands of years. Choose from these flowers if you are planning on sending a bouquet of flowers to your romantic partner to celebrate your anniversary, Valentine’s Day, or just because!
The ultimate symbol of love, roses are associated with Valentine’s Day with different colours conveying different meanings. The red rose reigns signifying enduring passion and endless love; whilst a pink rose means perfect love; and a white rose symbolises endless love. If you give only a single rose, it is said to amplify it’s meaning!
The most known meaning of tulips is perfect and deep love making them the ideal inclusion in a bouquet for your lover. Like the rose, different coloured tulips have different meanings and red hued tulips are most associated with romantic love, while their pink counterparts symbolise happiness.
Dahlias were a very popular flower to gift during the Victoria era as they convey devotion, love, beauty, and dignity. Due to their ability to bloom after many other flowers have died, dahlias symbolize a lasting bond and lifelong commitment between two people making them the perfect gift for an anniversary.
The meaning of carnations varies depending on the colour, but in general, the flower symbolises love, admiration, and fascination. Pink carnations signify deep, affectionate love; red refers to love and admiration; and white represents innocence and pure love. It is said that the deeper the colour, the more intense the love!
The orchid is a flower rich in symbolism and meaning, steeped in history and culture. During the Victorian era, orchids were given to someone to convey a message of love or tell a woman she is beautiful. In ancient Greece, orchids became symbols of fertility and virility, stemming from the testicular-like appearance of the orchid’s tubers. In Asian culture, orchids symbolise refinement, luxury, and mysterious beauty.
Flowers that symbolise friendship
Whether you are sending flowers to a friend to celebrate their birthday, wish then a speedy recovery, or just to let them know you are thinking of them, the following flowers are the best varieties to express feelings associated with friendship such as happiness, affection, and loyalty.
The delicately scented freesia signifies trust, friendship, and thoughtfulness. In fact, the botanist Christian P. Ecklon decided to name the bloom after his friend Dr. Freese as a symbol of their friendship.
Sunflowers are said to symbolise loyalty and adoration and are viewed as a highly spiritual flower as they appear to worship the sun. Signifying longevity, they are the ideal gift to brighten the day of a lifelong friend.
The yellow rose has been linked to friendship and joy for a long time and is the most well-known flower to give to a friend. Beautiful yellow roses are used to represent feelings associated with friendship such as warmth, delight, and affection.
Alstroemeria, a bloom also known as Peruvian lily, is thought to represent loyalty, mutual support, devotion, and strength. Symbolising a strong bond between friends, it is the perfect bloom to give to support a friend and encourage them to stay strong.
Chrysanthemum flowers convey different meanings in various cultures but in general they signify happiness, longevity, and love, representing the joy and optimism found in healthy friendships. Red chrysanthemums can be used to express love; white symbolise loyalty; violet represent thoughtfulness and care; whilst pink chrysanthemums signify honour and love.
Flowers than convey gratitude
Flowers to express gratitude can be for a wide range of reasons, from thanking a friend for their unwavering support through a difficult time, to showing your appreciation to a neighbour who took care of your pet when you went away. According to the language of flowers, the list of botanicals below have long been associated with gratitude and appreciation.
The delicately petalled and deliciously scented sweet pea is associated with sentiments of appreciation, gratitude, and blissful pleasure. Sweet peas have different meanings according to different cultures, and in the Victorian era they were often gifted as a sign of departure or to bid farewell, whilst also representing lasting friendship.
This beautiful, blousy bloom radiates abundance and expresses sincere, heartfelt sentiment. In particular, blue hydrangea symbolises gratitude and understanding; whilst pink communicates sincere emotions; and purple represents gratefulness.
Pink hued roses are the perfect bloom to express thanks as they represent appreciation, gratitude, recognition, and affection. Also conveying feelings of admiration and love, they are an appropriate gift to thank people you appreciate the most.
Since the Victorian era, pink calla lilies have been considered a symbol of admiration and appreciation; whilst interestingly, the yellow calla lily was traditionally gifted to a bride-to-be from her husband-to-be to communicate gratitude for accepting his marriage proposal.
Also known as Canterbury Bells and available in a multitude of pretty pink, purple and white hues, this bell-shaped bloom can be used to convey a feeling of gratitude and is also a symbol of affection. In particular, the white and creamy-hued varieties were popular in Victorian bouquets to communicate thanks.
Flowers that communicate sympathy
Choosing the right flowers to communicate sympathy can be difficult. Use the list of flowers following as a guide to those traditionally sent to mark the occasion of someone’s passing.
Often referred to as ‘funeral flowers’, white lilies have been a long-time flower of choice when gifting to communicate sympathy. They represent purity, commitment, and innocence, whilst also symbolising rebirth and a rejuvenation of the soul.
Rosemary is a universal symbol of remembrance used to honour those who have passed. Although the association with rosemary and remembrance predates the play, “rosemary for remembrance” is a phrase that references the character Ophelia’s words in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The tradition of laying springs of rosemary on a casket or tombstone dates to ancient Egypt with the custom continuing well into the medieval period and beyond, and is still practised today.
The poppy is a well-known remembrance flower and according to the language of flowers, symbolises eternal sleep. Poppies can have different meanings according to their colour, particularly red poppies signify remembrance, and white poppies represent consolation.
A flower of many meanings, the white rose signifies reverence, humility, and innocence, whilst also communicating endless love. The white rose is a classic and elegant choice when gifting for sympathy.
In the language of flowers, hyacinths carry meanings of sorrow, grief, and apology, and were often given as an expression of sympathy or regret. The flower also symbolises beauty, commitment, and peace, with the meaning deriving from the Greek myth of Hyakinthos, a beautiful young man who attracted the love of Apollo, the god of the sun. The god of the West Wind was also in love with Hyakinthos and jealous of Apollo’s feelings for the young man. One day whilst Hyakinthos was throwing the discus, the god of the West Wind blew the discus back into him causing a fatal wound. Hyakinthos died in Apollo’s arms and from his blood grew a hyacinth flower which Apollo named after him.
Flowers for celebration
Many occasions call for joyous celebration and wishes of congratulations, including a birthday, engagement, housewarming, or new job. Choose from the following vibrant blooms to commemorate an occasion worth celebrating.
Beautifully popular, peonies are a sign of prosperity and good luck, often used to wish someone a happy life. They are the ideal choice to celebrate embracing a new adventure in life.
Meaning confidence, charisma, and charm, pretty lisianthus flowers are a wonderful gift for someone who has made a great achievement worth celebrating.
Delphinium means fun, positivity, and openness to new experiences according to the language of flowers. They are used to communicate encouragement and joy, making them the perfect bloom to include in floral gifts of celebration.
A symbol of new beginnings, hope and a fresh start, daffodils are the perfect gift to send to someone who is starting a new job or has just moved into a new home.
Bright and bold, the sunflower brings a sense of joy and energy to the occasion. In Greek mythology they were used as a representation of celebration associated with the sun god Apollo. And in native American cultures, sunflowers were seen as a symbol of abundance and prosperity.
Flowers for a new baby
Instead of the traditional pink or blue flowers often sent to the parents of a newborn baby, try the flowers below which communicate ideas such as purity, hope, innocence, and new beginnings.
The beautifully fragrant gardenia is a symbol of trust, hope, peace, and renewal, and is also a sign of protection. Not commonly found in cut flowers, a potted gardenia plant makes a beautiful alternative gift for a new family.
Perfect for gifting a family to congratulate them on the birth of a new baby, a big, beautiful bouquet of hydrangea flowers would signify unity and togetherness.
Lily of the Valley
A gorgeously scented posy of lily of the valley is a wonderful gift on the occasion of a birth. Known to represent motherhood, purity, and sweetness, this pretty blooms also communicates good luck.
Daffodils & Jonquils
Daffodils and jonquils are the first sign of spring and represent unequalled love, hope, rebirth, and new beginnings. They are also a sign of good luck and prosperity making them a wonderful gift for a couple embarking on the adventure of parenthood.
Daisies are often given to new mothers as a symbol of childbirth and motherhood. With a multitude of thoughtful meanings, they signify new beginnings, rebirth, and hope; in addition to love, happiness and affection; and beauty, purity, and innocence.
Throughout the various seasons of the year, these flowers and more can be found at our South Yarra and Brighton flower stores. Speak to our floral stylists today about crafting a beautiful botanical gift that conveys another level of meaning and thoughtfulness through floriography and the language of flowers.