The Language of Flowers and Their Various Meanings

Red roses mean love, daisies represent innocence, lotus flowers rebirth, and gardenias happiness. This is the language of flowers. Flowers have been synonymous with sending messages of love, friendship, and condolences since Victorian times when every household studied their meaning and noted them down in flower dictionaries.

Of course, letters were always an option for Victorians. However, in a time with rigorous societal standards of decorum and reputation, that was not always appropriate. In addition, it may not have been possible to tell someone your true feelings, so using bouquets to send messages that they could not say aloud was a common way of communicating.

The language of flowers has become common in popular culture because of the Victorian preoccupation with them. However, the symbolism of flowers is centuries old, and flowers have meant various things around the globe. Because of their beauty and the nature of their life cycle, most flower meanings tend to deal with some form of hope or rebirth. They predominantly deal with love, relationships, new beginnings, and sometimes, death.

So, if you want to become acquainted with this romantic form of communication, here are some of the meanings of flowers below.

Lotus Flower

A lotus flowers head pops up from the water, meaning hope and rebirth.

The lotus flower signifies rebirth and new beginnings. This is because the flowers grow out of the mud in swampy areas. Each night, they slowly close and return to the mud, and each morning they bloom again, just as beautiful as ever.

The flower holds great symbolic weight in many Eastern cultures and is considered one of the most sacred plants in the world.

The lotus has a truly unique life cycle. With its roots latched in mud, it submerges every night into river water and miraculously re-blooms the following day, sparklingly clean. This process associates the flower with rebirth and spiritual enlightenment in many cultures. With its daily cycle of life, death, and reemergence, it’s no wonder that the lotus holds such symbolism.

Because of these meanings, the lotus is often seen alongside divine figures in some cultures. For the Egyptians, the flower represents the universe. In Hindu culture, the gods and goddesses sat on lotus thrones. And a longstanding Buddhist story states that the Buddha appeared atop a floating lotus, and his first footsteps on Earth left lotus blossoms.

In Greek Mythology, the lotus-eaters were people who lived on an island where lotus flowers were the primary source of food. However, the lotus flowers were a narcotic, and the island’s inhabitants slept their lives away. Whoever visited the island and ate the lotus flowers never returned and spent the rest of their days in slumber.

Today, if we call someone a ‘lotus-eater,’ it means they indulge in luxuries and apathy instead of dealing with practical problems. So often, Victorians took inspiration from ancient myths or legends about flowers.

Cactus flower

To Victorians, these prickly plants surprisingly meant…. warmth. They do, after all, grow in the warmest climates.

There are many myths and legends about cactus flowers, including a Native American tale in which a young man being pursued by wild animals asks the gods for help. In response, they turned him into a cactus, creating the very first cactus on earth.

Native American cultures believe that the cactus represents warmth, protection, and motherly love. Because cacti plants can survive in harsh conditions, they’ve become a symbol of unconditional, maternal love. A mother’s love is strong and enduring, just like a cactus. Since it blooms in harsh conditions, cactus flowers also symbolize the power of enduring all things, no matter how hard they are. 


The acacia flower, with tiny yellow petals, has a meaning of love.

This beautiful bloom symbolizes secret love. They are commonly seen growing wild in Australian suburbs, and now you can handpick them to send to someone you’re admiring from afar. The Acacia flower has also been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes Africa.

The Acacia flower’s meaning can be derived from the historic era as a symbol of regeneration, perseverance, and integrity all around the globe. The evergreen nature of this bush symbolizes the immortality of the human spirit in Freemasonry because of the ancient sacred meanings and the continued importance of this plant.

It is mentioned in both the Torah and the Bible as the wood used for building the Tabernacle. It is also important in the Buddhist tradition to symbolize compassion for all living things.


Specifically, the Victorians used it to symbolize reciprocated love between two people. It’s also associated with immortality due to its references in Greek mythology. In Ancient Greek mythology, the gods drank and ate Ambrosia. For Victorians, this bloom means that love is returned. It is a beautiful way of letting someone know that the feeling is mutual.

Ambrosia is one of the most romantic flowers to gift as it symbolizes mutual and requited love. In numerology, ambrosia falls under the expression number 33. This means a master number in the universal service. It also relates to leadership and inspiration, even though it has permanently been attached to love with the central symbolism of love given back.


A white gardenia flower with dark green leaves, has a meaning of purity.

These beautifully scented flowers signify an overflow of happiness. However, be careful with their delicate petals, as they can brown when touched.

As with all flowers, gardenias have different meanings at different times and contexts. It is a flower that symbolizes purity and gentleness. However, this symbolism often depends on the color of the gardenia. For example, the white gardenia best fits this meaning. Another symbol of the gardenia is secret love between two people and joy.

It is common to see these flowers at weddings and in bridal bouquets, not only for their beauty but as an expression of joy.

The gardenia flower symbolizes trust, clarity, hope, and renewal. It can also convey the message of dreams, intuition, self-reflection, and protection. In parts of Asia, the gardenia flower is symbolic of peace and clarity. 

A red carnation indicates heartbreak. A yellow carnation means disdain and a striped carnation refusal. So…. Heartbreak and bad news all round for carnations despite their beauty.


Carnations are one of the oldest cultivated flowers in the world. They were discovered back in Ancient Greek and Roman times by Theophrastus, one of the earliest known botanists. A red carnation indicates heartbreak. A yellow carnation means disdain, and a striped carnation refusal. So, heartbreak and bad news all round for carnations despite their beauty.

Mostly grown in Europe and Asia, carnations were loved by so many and used in art, decor, wreaths, and perfumes. Pink carnations are the most common color and symbolize gratitude. White carnations are stunning flowers that represent purity and good luck. Symbolising disappointment and rejection, yellow carnations are best to send to someone you need to apologize to.

Carnation has many different meanings. However, they are undoubtedly one of the most popular and most used flowers.


A bright yellow daffodil with tall green stems, has a history of cultural meaning.

A beautiful splash of cheerful yellow on a bouquet will signify regard and unequaled love. In Victorian times, sending these was truly a compliment or a declaration of love. 

Daffodils are some of the first flowers we see in springtime and are a great indicator that winter is over. Because of this, they represent rebirth and new beginnings.

The English poet William Wordsworth was so moved by the beauty of some daffodils he saw on a walk that he wrote a famous poem about them.

‘’I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils’’


It doesn’t seem surprising that daisies signify innocence. However, they have different shades of meaning and, in some cases, can represent a promise to keep a secret.

A common custom with daisies is to pull the petals off and recite each time, ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ until the last petal answers.

Daisies symbolize innocence and purity. This stems from an old Celtic legend. According to the legend, God sprinkled daisies over the earth to cheer the parents up whenever an infant died.

In Norse mythology, the daisy is Freya’s sacred flower. Freya is the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, and as such, the daisy symbolizes childbirth, motherhood, and new beginnings. Therefore, daisies are sometimes a perfect gift to congratulate new mothers.

They also mean chastity and transformation because of the Roman myth of Vertumnus and Belides. Vertumnus, God of seasons and gardens, became enamored with Belides, a nymph. He continuously pursued her, and to escape his affections, she turned herself into a daisy. Daisy’s scientific name, Bellis stems from this story. In Old English, daisies were referred to as “day’s eyes” because the petals close over the yellow center at night, and during the day, they re-open. The phrase “as fresh as a daisy” originated from this, signifying that someone had a good night’s rest.


A bunch of pink geraniums in a hanging basket.

From Islamic to Christian to Scandinavian traditions, geraniums occur frequently. The symbolism of the geranium flower has a history with gods, saints, and many desirable attributes. For example, the geranium flower symbolized prosperity in Egypt, longevity in Japan, and immortality in China.

In the language of flowers, the true geranium is rich in flower symbolism. They have attributed the powers of love, peace, healing, elegance, and spirituality. However, they mostly have desirable symbolizing meanings, including fertility, health, joy, protection, frustration, passing away, and true friendship.

The geranium flower is a component of many magical spells. Some cultures wore the roots of a geranium around the neck for protection. Geranium tea was consumed as a love potion. Brushing leaves of rose geraniums onto windows and doorknobs secured the house against intrusion.


While these blooms might make you yearn for a tropical holiday, they represent a delicate kind of beauty. So, not only are they bold and stunning, but highly complementary.

The flower’s meaning also includes friendship, generosity, and hospitableness. It’s not by happenstance that Hawaiians include these gorgeous blossoms in their lives. The hibiscus embodies the welcoming spirit of aloha. The Hibiscus is also representative of feminine beauty.


A vine of wild honeysuckes flowers grows on a white picket fence, and has the meaning of sturdy love.

Although the honeysuckle flower has had many different meanings throughout history, it is predominantly a symbol of happiness. They also look unique, growing wildly along a fence or somewhere in your garden. Because the honeysuckle vine is notoriously hardy and challenging to kill once established, you can often use it to symbolize devotion and everlasting bonds, too. Perfect for an anniversary, and they smell beautiful.

White Jasmine

Their scent is unmistakable and, for many of us, they herald the beginning of the Australian spring and summer. However, these beauties mean sweet love and fidelity. White jasmine is also appropriate for memorial services as it honors the transition of a loved one into the spiritual realm.


Marigolds signify grief and jealousy. The shock of color from their petals sends a strong message. Marigolds often represent the powerful strength of the sun and represent the power, strength, and light that lives inside of a person. However, the marigold has also come to symbolize a feeling of despaired love. If someone has lost someone they love, whether by death or a broken relationship.


Poppy can be sent in consolation. Often, we see them around ANZANC day for this reason. Their meaning of consolation represents solidarity in times of grief.

Red rose

Simply, I love you. There is no reading between the lines here.

Yellow Rose

Along with other flowers that signify bad news, yellow roses must be top of the list. They signify infidelity and a loss of love.

Yellow Tulip

In this case, yellow signifies good news. It means telling someone that their smile is like sunshine and they are hugely complimentary. Nothing will cheer you up quite like looking at a bouquet of tulips.

Tiger Lily

A tiger Lily represents wealth, so gift a bouquet of these to someone you love who is looking for financial growth or an income.


The Magnolia signifies a love of nature and a sense of nobility. Their pale faces and dark green leaves give this bloom an elegance that matches their meaning.


Meaning wisdom, trust, and faith, these beautiful blooms carry a lot of meaning as well as being beautiful.


Flowers have always had beautiful and symbolic meanings. When you buy a bouquet to put in your home or gift to someone, it contains substance even if you do not want it. Realizing the meaning of flowers prompts us to look into how they have been used across various cultures in times past and present.

Flowers have almost universally had meaning attached to them. Their beauty inspires stories. Flowers are also a sign of hope and rebirth and signify the end of winter in most parts of the world. A flower poking its fresh head through the snow was the first sign that better times were finally on the way.


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