Have you ever stopped to think just how big a role flowers play in our lives?

They are an essential part of nature. They add colour to our homes and gardens. And perhaps most of all, they seem to be able to express so many things when words just aren’t quite enough…

Joy, love, gratitude, sympathy, appreciation, congratulations.

So where did all this all start? And what do certain flowers symbolise?

History of Flower Giving

It’s hard to know who did if first, however, the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese all talk about flowers in their stories. The Greeks especially seemed to feel that flowers were significant as they associated them with their gods.

In western culture, historians believe that flower-giving as we know it today probably resulted from visits to Turkey by the French and English in the 1700’s. They discovered that flowers were practically a language of their own with different meanings attached to different flowers.

A little later during the Victorian period, the English developed their own ‘flower language’. Expressing one’s emotions was largely frowned upon, however, giving flowers that expressed the appropriate emotion became acceptable.


What Do Some Popular Flowers Symbolise Today?

Well, firstly you should remember that nothing matters more than what they mean to the giver and the receiver. That’s what counts.

However, if you want to delve a little deeper, here are what a few of today’s most popular flowers symbolise…


  • Red roses for love.
  • Pink roses for gratitude or admiration.
  • Orange roses for enthusiasm
  • Yellow roses for friendship.
  • White roses for innocence and purity.

In our culture it has become customary to send a dozen roses to express true love. However, other numbers also have significance…

  • One rose symbolises love at first sight.
  • Two roses for shared love.
  • Three roses mean “I love you”.
  • Six roses say “I want to be yours”.
  • Seven roses show infatuation.
  • Nine roses symbolise eternal love.
  • Ten roses mean “You’re perfect”.


The ancient Greeks believed that the lily sprouted from the milk of Hera, queen of the gods. Obviously it was an important part of their culture.

In modern society, the lily often symbolises purity and virtue, or rebirth. One of the reasons they are a popular funeral flower is to symbolise the restoration of the departed’s soul.

Lilies are also the traditional 30th anniversary flower.


As with roses, various colours of carnations carry different meanings.

  • White carnations are for pure love and good luck.
  • Light red is for admiration.
  • Deep red is for love and affection.
  • Purple carnations signify unpredictability.
  • Pink carnations symbolise a mother’s undying love (some stories say they came from the Virgin Mary’s tears).


Gerberas generally symbolise cheerfulness. If you want to give the gift of cheer, big bright gerberas are sure to brighten the receiver’s day.

However, various colours can also have specific meanings such as:

  • Red for being fully-immersed in love.
  • White for purity.
  • Pink stands for admiration.
  • Orange is the ‘sunshine of life’.
  • Yellow is the specific gerbera for cheerfulness.


The flower of optimism and joy. In Japan, there is even a ‘Festival of Happiness’ dedicated to the chrysanthemum.

The chrysanthemum is also the 13th wedding anniversary flower.

What do Flowers Mean to You?

Now you know the meanings behind some of the most popular flowers, we’d love to know what certain flowers mean to you.

Do they hold a precious memory? Does someone you know just love their beauty or their fragrance?

We’d love to hear your stories. Please feel welcome to share them with us.