The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

An enjoyable introduction to floriography is this New York Times best seller by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. In it, a young woman struggles through the foster-care system to find her place in ordinary adult life, but realizes that her only means of communicating with the world is through flowers and the emotions they represent.

More about this book here.

Hydrangeas: Gratitude and Understanding

The hydrangea’s instantly recognizable shape, soft colors, and small blooms make it a good symbol for “gratitude for being understood.” However, these flowers can also be used to convey rigidity and heartlessness, so be mindful when sending them to a loved one!

Regardless of intended meaning, hydrangeas are a beautiful flower that blooms from spring through autumn. One of our favorite breeds is the Let’s Dance reblooming hydrangea, which blossom in dense bunches with thick stalks and vivid colors. Learn more here.

Photo courtesy of Proven Winners

Foxgloves: Healing

Foxgloves symbolize healing, and make a gorgeous accent bloom in any floral arrangement. Southern gardener extraordinaire James Farmer recommends mixing foxgloves in with delphiniums, snapdragons, and poppies for the perfect springtime tabletop bouquet.

See more gardening tips from James or check out his wonderful new book, A Time to Plant: Southern-Style Garden Living.

Roses: Love

Forever in style, the red rose is a classic symbol of love. But did you know that roses of different colors have different meanings? A white rose could mean silence or purity, a yellow rose symbolizes friendship, and a dark pink rose stands for gratitude.

See more of the English-style garden pictured above here.

Coral and Orange Roses: Desire and Passion

Coral and orange roses symbolize desire and passion. This apricot hybrid tea rose is the perfect choice for our Classic Woman Rose, which celebrates the outstanding women honored in Traditional Home’s annual Classic Woman Awards.

Dahlias: Elegance and Dignity

An expression of elegance and dignity, dahlias offer blooms as big as dinner plates in an array of colors, shapes, and creative hybrids.

See more gorgeous dahlias here.

Photo: Tria Giovan

Cherry Blossoms: Fragile Beauty

Delicate cherry blossoms represent fragility and feminine beauty. The blooms do not last very long, so their beauty is celebrated with special springtime festivals around the world, particularly in Japan and China.

“Cherry Blossom” accent plates from Royal Crown Derby bring this same mood of fragile beauty to the table. Plates and flatware are available through Mary Mahoney.

Sweet Peas: Thankfulness

Often cited as the sweetest smelling flower by consummate gardeners, the sweet pea says simply, “You have my thanks.”

Click here for tips on giving your garden sensory appeal.

Photo courtesy of Hoffman Landscapes, Inc.

Daffodils: Rebirth

Daffodils bloom early in spring, and represent rebirth. They are depicted in the tray on top here, which recreates a pattern designed by French textile artist Paule Marrot.

Yellow Tulips: Unrequited Love

Tulips herald springtime and symbolize love. However, the flower’s color dictates what type of love: red and violet stand for the undying kind, white is one-sided, and yellow represents hopeless love.

Photo courtesy of Hoffman Landscapes, Inc.

Peonies: Prosperity

A bouquet of fresh-cut peonies will fill a room with their delightful aroma. Symbolizing prosperity and bravery, they are a representation of masculinity in Japanese culture.

Photo courtesy of Hoffman Landscapes, Inc.

Rosemary: Remembrance

Rosemary symbolizes remembrance, and the herb offers dainty blooms of white, pink, purple, and blue. A living wall is covered in fragrant rosemary in this pool court.

See the rest of this beautiful garden here.

Photo: John Granen

Gardenias: Good Luck

Because of its strong, sweet scent and delicate appearance, gardenias allude to sweet romance, secret love, and good luck. They thrive in warm, moist climates, like Hawaii, and can be difficult to cultivate indoors. Some varieties offer large blooms, perfect for boutonnieres and bouquets.

These organic candles from Love Nature NYC fill any room with the intoxicating aroma of gardenias and lilies. The natural soy wax gives a longer burn and pure scent. Blended, poured, and packaged by hand, the eco-conscious candle comes in a recycled glass jar printed with vegetable-based ink.

Pansies: Always on My Mind

These pretty purple pansies say, “You occupy my thoughts.”

Photo: John Granen

Delphiniums: Joy

Often referred to as larkspur, delphiniums represent big-heartedness, levity, and joy. Their distinctive shape and vibrant color make delphiniums a welcome component to any landscape, like the ones that pair with foxgloves to line this garden entry.

See the rest of this gorgeous California garden here.

Photo: Mark Lohman

Sage: Wisdom

It comes as no surprise that sage symbolizes wisdom, since another definition of “sage” is “a person of gravity and wisdom.” The bold Sage Cuff from Voguevert is made of reclaimed metal and gold patina, and hopefully imparts sagacity to the wearer!

Amaryllis: Pride

These striking blooms are typically large in size and vibrant in color, aptly associated with pride.

See more stunning amaryllis and growing tips here.

Snapdragons: Presumption

Such a recognizable flower brings to mind childhood and summertime. The snapdragon’s actual meaning is “presumption.” Presumptuous or not, it adds charm and character to a bouquet.

See more of this garden with “Old South” style.

Photo: John Granen

Auriculas: Love of Art

These beautiful flowers have a long history of being the most prized among a garden’s blossoms, perhaps due to their unique coloring. They look painted, and thus represent a love of art.

View more pretty auriculas here.

Photo: Derek St. Romaine

Olive: Peace

The olive tree stands for–what else?–peace, making it the perfect gift for someone with whom reparations must be made. These tiny potted topiaries from Viva Terra are packaged in sweet little jug planters.

Clematis: A Beautiful Mind

This lovely bloom symbolizes beauty of the mind, which is easy to imagine considering the clematis’s variety of bright colors and its industrious habit of creeping up garden walls and winding around trellises.

See more of this garden here.

Photo: John Granen

You are here

The Language of Flowers

Learn the secret meanings behind your favorite flowers

Written and produced by Lucy Fitzgerald
Slide 1 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 2 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 3 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 4 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 5 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 6 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 7 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 8 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 9 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 10 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 11 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 12 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 13 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 14 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 15 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 16 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 17 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 18 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 19 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 20 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 21 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 22 Of The Language of Flowers
Slide 23 Of The Language of Flowers
  • Prev
  • Next
  • 1 of 24
Jerry Harpur

After decoding the true meanings behind these blossoms, you’ll never look at a bouquet the same way again!

You may have heard of rosemary for remembrance ad olive branches for peace. The “language of flowers”—often referred to as floriography—attributes meanings and sentiments to different flowers and plants. For centuries, this cryptic language has inspired the giving of flowers to convey emotion.

Floriography originated in the courts of Constantinople in early 18th-century Turkey, spreading throughout Europe and Asia, eventually making its way to America in the mid-19th century. Cultures all over the world were captivated by the practice, and the craze intensified during the Victorian era in England and the U.S., when impassioned lovers could send bouquets to voice feelings considered too improper to even whisper aloud. Such “talking” bouquets were called nosegays or “tussie-mussies,” and were often worn or carried publicly as a fashion statement.

Calla lilies, in the foreground in the photo above, symbolize purity. Read on to explore the language of flowers, as well as discover a few posies, floral themed products, and green thumb tips of our own!

Photo: Jerry Harpur


Loading comments...