It’s not exactly news that flowers can be used to express sentiment, but you may not have known that the symbolism attached to some flowers is quite specific. For example, depending on the color of its petals, a rose can say more than just ‘I love you’. (Actually, it can say just the exact opposite but more on that later.) That’s why we consulted the Farmer’s Almanac and the experts at Aggie Horticulture to compile a handy guide to flowers and their meanings. Read on and rest assured that your floral statement will stay on message, whether you’re sending condolences, congratulations, or simply trying to surprise your significant other with a ‘just because’ bouquet.
From Asters to Zinnias, Here Are 50 Flowers and Their Meanings
File this one under flowers you can safely send your better half because aster is widely recognized as a symbol of love and daintiness. Yep, in this case, A is for ‘Aw, how sweet!’
Associated with femininity in general, the azalea can be sent to say, “take care of yourself” and is appropriate for most occasions. That said, Aggie Horticulture also lists fragile passion and temperance among this flower’s symbolic meanings (so maybe skip this one for, say, a bachelorette party).
These flowering perennials are indeed pretty—but we have some bad news, friends: Begonias are something of a bad omen in the flower world. Simply put, the message they send is, beware.
4. Black-Eyed Susan
These cheerful yellow flowers are fun to look at but, per the Farmer’s Almanac, they convey a much more serious message: justice. Send these to someone if there’s a score to settle—or better yet, just enjoy them in your home as a celebration of justice served.
So, you recently had a mea culpa moment and it needs to be acknowledged. Good news: These flowers will eat your words for you (maybe) since they represent humility. Plus, their charming shape and vibrant blue color is basically guaranteed to earn you a pardon.
6. Red Carnation
These beauties are a sign of heartache and admiration. Give a bouquet of red carnations to someone you’re longing for and they’ll get the message—especially if they’ve also read this guide.
7. White Carnation
These symbols of pure and innocent love are also used to communicate a “good luck” message. For example, white carnations are ideal candidates to throw on stage at the end of a ballet recital.
8. Pink Carnation
Looking for a flower that says, “I’ll never forget you”? You’re in luck—that’s precisely the nostalgic sentiment that a pink carnation is said to convey. These pastel pink flowers are also beautiful when gifted solo or in a bouquet.
9. Yellow Carnation
Unlike the other carnation colors, the yellow variety is associated with a much more sinister meaning: Disdain, disappointment and rejection are the sentiments expressed by this pale yellow flower.
These small and delicate flowers are said to represent “patience in adversity,” which makes sense since they’re also an herbal remedy for insomnia—a serious hardship— when served up in a steaming hot and soothing mug of sleepy time tea.
11. Red Chrysanthemum
La-la-love you...or that’s what the red chrysanthemum says. That’s right, move over roses: These bright red flowers are a symbol of passion and romance, and the message is hard to miss because these guys are quite striking when in full bloom.
12. Yellow Chrysanthemum
Jilted lovers can console themselves with the sight of the dense yellow blooms of this variety of chrysanthemum, which is said to represent slighted love. In other words, they’re an ideal and aesthetically pleasing accompaniment to a pint of ice cream and a sad playlist.
13. White Chrysanthemum
A white chrysanthemum is said to be a powerful symbol of truth, which means you can bestow these pristine flowers as a celebratory gift to a friend who just did something brave by confronting a personal truth, be it big or small. (Alternatively, you can just buy some to toss into your cheating spouse’s shallow grave...just kidding.)
Commonly recognized as the harbingers of spring, the crocus comes in a colorful assortment of yellow, purple and white blooms. As for its meaning, the crocus symbolizes just what you’d expect from a spring flower: youthful joy and general cheer.
Reserve daffodils for those you hold in the highest regard, as that’s exactly what these flowers represent. The daffodil sends a message of unequalled love, so don’t waste this one on a fair-weather friend.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, a single dahlia is a symbol of good taste—though whether that’s a commentary on the giver or receiver is anyone’s guess. Either way, it’s safe to say that this is one classy flower.
All sources agree that the daisy is a powerful symbol of innocence and purity—but the folks behind Aggie Horticulture add that this flower can also represent loyal love and even a mischievous “I’ll never tell” spirit. Let’s just call this one clean and playful.
The name kind of speaks for itself here: This flower quite literally means “do not forget me.” In that spirit, these pretty blossoms can be included in a bouquet to celebrate fond and loving memories in any context.
Considering that they are one of the first blooms of early spring—a long-awaited pop of color—it should come as no surprise that forsythia is said to be a symbol of anticipation. The takeaway? These flowers are an excellent way to celebrate the coming of warm weather, as well as other exciting occasions (think baby shower or engagement).
There’s nothing discreet about the pungent perfume these flowers give off, so it’s rather ironic that they are actually a symbol of secret love. In fact, with its alluring fragrance and delicate appearance, “not-secret-for-long love” might better reflect the gardenia’s heady presence.
Bridesmaids and maids-of-honor, this flower is for you. Per the Farmer’s Almanac, the oak-leaved geranium is a symbol of true friendship, meaning that it can and should be included in any bouquet intended for a faithful friend. As for the other breeds, Aggie Horticulture suggests they represent stupidity and folly—so definitely stick to the oak-leaved kind if you’re going for a genuine gesture of friendship.
The name alone screams “good fortune”—and that is indeed the meaning of the goldenrod. This eye-catching, fluffy yellow flower can be used to send a message of encouragement or to celebrate good news of any kind, from high school graduations to job promotions.
These tropical flowers make for an eye-pleasing addition to any garden or flower arrangement. Extremely versatile both in appearance and meaning, hibiscus is recognized as a symbol of delicate beauty (and there’s really not a bad application for that).
According to our sources, holly boasts a dual-meaning: First, as a symbol of foresight, but also as a sign of “domestic happiness.” That said, holly also has some biblical significance (i.e., eternal life) hence its appearance at Christmas. Bottom line: This festive flower is good for just about anything, but particularly fitting for holiday celebrations.
The Farmer’s Almanac says that honeysuckle signifies the “bonds of love” and although that sounds like it could be a slightly creepy Lifetime movie, we’re going to stick with the positive read on this late spring blossom (because it’s so darn sweet).
Well, friends, this is a weird one—the experts agree that this flower has two very different meanings. On the one hand, the hydrangea is said to represent the spirit of gratitude, and on the other, frigidity and heartlessness. The takeaway? Pick your preferred meaning depending on the occasion...and let’s hope the two sentiments never intersect.
If you’re analyzing flower meanings, iris is your new best friend because it doesn't get easier than this: Per the Farmer’s Almanac, iris just means “a message.” Yep, nice and easy (i.e., just the way we like our flower arrangements).
28. White Jasmine
Feeling sweet on someone? Send white jasmine to your love interest to signal friendship with a dose of infatuation. This particular color type is said to stand for amiability and sweet love. In other words, think of this as a first (or just new) crush flower.
29. Yellow Jasmine
The meaning of yellow jasmine—grace and elegance—isn’t quite as relationship specific as that of its colorless cousin. As such, this one is as safe for any occasion as the virtues it extols. Basically, this one is a safe bet whenever you want a pretty flower that you won’t have to second guess.
30. Lady’s Slipper
In the world of blossoms, there are many different kinds of beauty. Case in point, lady’s slipper—the flower that signifies capricious beauty. You could certainly get this one for that mostly lovely but also highly unpredictable person in your life...but that seems awfully specific, and it’s fair to say these flowers are appropriate on any occasion.
Here’s a curveball: Lavender, that incredibly fragrant flower often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and stress-relief actually symbolizes distrust (a decidedly not so chill emotion).
You can think of this one as the epitome of all things good since sweetness, purity and love are among its most prominent meanings. Hint: Aside from the more obvious practical application (like a baptism or a wedding), this is excellent news for nearly any occasion.
The magnolia blossom stands for nobility and a love of nature (arguably two interrelated virtues). The leathery white or pink petals that adorn these beautiful flowers are just the right size to make a nice impression no matter the event.
These are flowers for hard times, friends. Marigolds are symbols of basically the worst emotional experiences one can have—namely despair, grief, jealousy and cruelty. Yes, it seems an odd description for such a bright and fragrant flower, but don’t judge a bloom by its color.
35. Morning Glory
This trumpet-shaped bloom is hard to miss since it comes in a range of eye-popping colors that range from pink to royal blue. Best of all, these beauts are suitable for pretty much any occasion since they’re understood to be a symbol of affection, plain and simple.
The orchid is a symbol of refinement, beauty and love—so it’s unlikely you’ll be too far off base when including this elegant flower in a bouquet (or as a solo offering, for that matter).
According to Aggies Horticulture, the petunia represents a rather interesting combination of sentiments: anger, resentment and (wait for it) “your presence soothes me.” These flowers are pretty for sure, but if you get some from your spouse then you might want to consider a visit to a couples therapist (or just sharing this guide for more informed choices going forward).
Good news: The meaning of the pansy is blissfully uncomplicated—this flower just symbolizes “thoughts.” In other words, it’s an excellent option for any occasion when you want to share an “I’m thinking of you” sentiment.
While peonies can be interpreted as an expression of bashfulness or shame, the more widely accepted meaning of these attractive blossoms is as a symbol of happiness—specifically, a happy marriage and happy life. The takeaway? These go well with weddings, engagements, housewarming parties and more.
Poppy is known to be a symbol of consolation. The origins of this can be traced back to Roman mythology—specifically a story about a god who creates the poppy to comfort a grieving mother who is unable to find her lost daughter. Bottom line: If you know someone who needs some cheering up, the poppy is a good choice.
These late spring stunners are known for their large, leathery petals and bold color. Just keep in mind that while these flowers make a charming addition to a garden, the message they send—beware, danger—is a bit more ominous than what you’d want to receive in a bouquet.
42. White Rose
Experiencing unrequited love? If so, the white rose is the flower for you. This colorless rose is said to send the message: “I’m worthy of you.” (Note: We think that as a rule, you shouldn’t have to prove that with flowers, but that’s up to you.)
43. Red Rose
No surprises here, friends. The red rose is the ultimate symbol of L-O-V-E. Valentine’s Day, birthdays or really any ol’ day you want to show your passion, the red rose speaks the language of romance.
44. Yellow Rose
All roses look and smell so lovely, you’d never expect one to be bad news. Sadly, the yellow variety is exactly that: This rose represents jealousy, infidelity and diminished love. But don’t read too much into it if you receive a bunch of these pretty blooms (unless your partner read this article before buying you such a surprise, that is).
Snapdragons are another double-edged sword, representing both deception and graciousness. Truth be told, we just think they’re downright cool—namely because they look lovely and come in a variety of colors.
In the garden, a statuesque sunflower is actually a sign of haughtiness. (But let’s be honest, it’s really a showstopper, right?) That said, the smaller (dwarf) sunflowers are said to be a symbol of adoration—so if you receive one, you may have just met your biggest fan.
47. Sweet Pea
The sweet pea is the flower of delicate pleasures and goodbyes. (Note: One source goes as far as to say the message is “thank you for a lovely time.”) In other words, this one may tip you off if you’re wondering whether it was just a fling or something more.
48. Red Tulip
Is there a new and exciting romance brewing at the moment? If so, the object of your affection may just send you a red tulip—a flower believed to convey a powerful declaration of love.
Prim, proper and powerfully fragrant—the violet sends a symbol of both modesty and loyalty. Yep, if devotion ranks high among your romantic priorities, a bouquet of violets can be classified as an auspicious offering.
Zinnias—a vibrant, daisy-like flower—are said to represent thoughts of absent friends. Send these to anyone you hold close in your heart but don’t get to see quite often enough.