Bringing flowers is a gesture of courtesy, especially when men do it. A bouquet can express many feelings, from love and respect to congratulations and playfulness. But did you know that individual flowers, and the way they are placed in a bouquet, can also carry a message? Here is a short primer on the secret meaning of plants and flowers that your florist (hopefully) knows.
Let’s start with the obvious: a rose usually means love. Usually, I say, because depending on the color of the flower, it can mean different things. A white rose is a symbol of purity and innocence, while a yellow rose is an expression of friendship and caring. Pink roses convey emotions like admiration and gratitude, blue roses express longing, and, of course, red roses are an expression of deep feelings of passion and love.
Other flowers and herbs
There are many flowers – and, unsurprisingly, many white ones – that are used in relation to purity. Aside from the white rose mentioned above, lily-of-the-valley is also a symbol of purity, and so is a lotus flower. But color is not the only thing that turns flowers and herbs into symbols – it’s often the life cycle of the flower that carries the inherent meaning. Sunflowers constantly turn their “faces” toward the sun, thus being the perfect expression of the adoration felt by those putting them in a bouquet.
There is a complete compendium of meanings attached to various flowers and herbs – you can find a comprehensive list here.
The hidden meaning of bouquets
When it comes to bouquets, not only the flowers themselves but their number also expresses a meaning. A single rose is like saying “I love you”, while 88 roses are a sign of apology. When bringing a bouquet with under 10 stems, it’s customary to make the bouquet of an odd number of flowers, while when there are more than 10 stems, it’s allowed for them to be even-numbered.
There are many other rules to the “language of flowers“, ranging from never give a single red rose to a girl you don’t want anything from to never give carnations to an actor after a performance, as it symbolizes rejection and bad criticism.
Then again, there might be no hidden meaning in the bouquet you have just received from a friend – they might simply think you like the flowers that are put into it. If still in doubt, make sure you read the card – those usually speak much more clearly than the bouquet itself.