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Flower Color Meanings and Symbolism Explained

Centenary and full of symbolism, the flower color meanings are not a contemporary invention. Learn more about them here!

Colors have been used for centuries to show different emotions, ideas, and thoughts. Colors have also been used to distinguish a class of people from another.

But did you know flowers are often used for similar purposes depending on the type of flower and its color?

Understanding the flower color meanings allows for the use of flowers for different purposes or in different circumstances.

A flower tells us a lot about the message a person tries to convey. Also, many times it may not be about the type of flower, but the color. 

For example, a person may gift you a white rose and gift someone else a red rose. While white rose significance purity, the red rose symbolizes passion. This tells you a lot about the meaning behind the gift you were given.

Although we have a complete article on the rose color meanings, we’ll stick to their colors for today’s article, regardless of the plant species.

Florist making a bouquet of different flower colors
Understand the flower color meanings before gifting the next bouquet

The History of Flower Meanings

There were lots of restrictions in the Victorian era. Far too many things were considered taboos and forbidden, and many who did them were punished or jailed. 

Expressing sensuality in public was also deemed taboo, and so, women were not allowed to reveal their legs and, in many cases, their arms in public. 

As such, people found alternatives to express themselves. Flowers were one of the alternatives improvised as they hold many secret languages and hidden meanings.

The symbolic language of flowers in the Victorian era may have been slightly different from what they mean now; however, they still hold much significance.

Both the colors of the flowers and the types were used hand in hand to convey emotions.

Red roses bouquet and a heart ribbon

For instance, Spanish Jasmines were used to tell that a person is intoxicated with your sensuality. This is because the jasmine floor has a strong fragrance.

Red roses have been used throughout centuries to send messages of love, passion, and desire. It was the same in the Victorian era. Red relays messages of seduction and physical interest.

Linden flowers were used to express conjugal interest, while yellow acacia was used to express secret love.

Understanding flower color symbolism and the meaning of flower in the Victorian era was vital to understanding hidden messages as expressing desire was often tricky.

Even anxiety could be expressed using flowers by sending a bunch of red columbines as a response to a bunch of Linden flowers.

Knowing flower color meanings and their symbolism has allowed people to express love and desire without being labeled indecent or lewd. 

Still, before we dive into the flower color meanings, let’s take a quick look at what different flowers mean in different cultures and religions.

Meanings of a few flowers according to the Victorian symbolism:

  • Lilac meaning: joy of youth
  • Yellow tulip meaning: sunshine in your smile
  • Red tulip meaning: declaration of love
  • Pink carnation meaning: I’ll never forget you
  • Red carnation meaning: heartache
  • White carnation meaning: innocence and pure love
  • Yellow carnation meaning: rejection and disappointment
  • White lily meaning: purity and heavenly
  • Purple hyacinth meaning: sorrow
  • Violet meaning: modesty and faithfulness
  • Sunflower meaning: adoration
  • White jasmine meaning: sweet love
  • Yellow jasmine meaning: grace and elegance
  • Hibiscus meaning: delicate beauty
Colorful bouquet of different flowers

Flower Colors in Different Cultures and Regions

The meaning of the color of flowers is often ambiguous as it tends to change across different regions. Not only that but the flower meanings this change is made even more obvious by the flower color meanings in different cultures.

In countries like Egypt, it will be pretty daring to gift flowers as they represent passing to the next life.

In the same breath, you should think twice if you give red roses to someone you feel a strong attraction or desire for in Hungary as they are often the choice of flowers given at funerals.

You would also want to reconsider casually giving a bunch of white lilies to your friends or neighbors if you live in or visit the UK, as they are the symbolic flowers displayed at funerals.

Sometimes, besides the colors of the flowers, the arrangements determine flower color meanings in some parts of the world.

For example, in Brazil, you need to give 12 roses as a way of professing your love to someone, while in Vietnam, all you need is a single rose.

In Asia, the meanings of flowers are pretty different, though. Peach blossoms, lotus blossoms, and orchids are believed to attract good luck and are often gifted, especially on Chinese New Year.

Pink lotus
Pink lotus

However, giving potted flowers in some parts of Asia is believed to restrict the growth of relationships.

The meanings of flowers in some parts of Europe also differ from other places like the US.

For example, gifting odd-numbered flowers is believed to bring good luck in many European countries, however, in celebrating Valentine’s day, the rule is to give half a dozen flowers to your partner.

The meaning of the color of flowers gives these delicate gifts more value, especially in countries that appreciate the art of gifting flowers.

These meanings may be deeper in more conservative nations, which means you would have to be a lot more careful as a visitor or guest and strictly follow their rules as they may not take kindly to you trying to change them. 

Regardless of what you think of flower meanings in these regions, you must respect their culture and follow it as much as possible if you happen to find yourself there.

Flower Color Meanings and Symbolism

Here are the meanings of the most popular flower colors so you can choose the right floral arrangements for every situation. Enjoy!

Red Flowers Meanings

Red camellia
Red camellia

Red is the color of love, therefore it comes as no surprise what red-colored flowers are often used for. 

Sending a bunch of red flowers to someone often indicates that you have passionate and romantic feelings for them. 

As red is often called the color of the heart, what better way to proclaim your love for a person than showing them a glimpse into your heart by giving them red roses. 

Roses are the most common red flowers used for this purpose. Still, there are various others, including red tulips, red gerbera daisies, and red carnations.

Orange Flowers Meanings

Orange lilly flower
Orange lily flower

Orange is the combination of red and yellow. It is a bold, daring, and vibrant color. This makes it more intense than yellow as it often demands attention but is less passionate than red. 

As such, orange symbolizes love, happiness, and warmth. You can send orange flowers to family, friends, or a romantic partner as a symbol of your devotion. 

Besides this, orange flowers can also be used as encouragement and motivation to be adventurous and start something new.

This color also symbolizes spontaneity, so orange-colored flowers are perfect gifts for someone who just got a new job or is looking towards a career change.

Pink Flowers Meanings

Pink tulips, flowers
Pink tulips

Pink is widely known to symbolize love in the purest, most authentic form. It is the symbolism of innocence and sensitivity.

However, pink flowers have a broad spectrum of emotions it represents, from playful platonic love to unconditional and universal love.

There are pink roses, pink chrysanthemums, and even pink carnations, all of which represent love. 

Pink can also be used to show delicate connotations as well as femininity. Nowadays, pink is the symbolic color for breast cancer awareness.

Yellow Flowers Meanings

Yellow tulip
Yellow tulip

Yellow daffodils, yellow lilacs, yellow tulips, yellow chrysanthemums, and yellow roses. Yellow is present in abundance. 

It is the color of the sun, and therefore it symbolizes brightness, cheerfulness, happiness, friendship, and good health, which is why it is used to show sympathy, empathy, warmth, friendship, and support. 

You can get yellow flowers for your colleagues as an appreciation gift or even a birthday gift in workplaces.

Green Flowers Meanings

Green carnation
Green carnation

Green is the color of nature and vegetation. It’s a relaxing color that represents harmony, fertility, good fortune, and peace. 

Hence, green flowers can be used to wish friends or families success in business, good fortune, and good health, as green is an excellent healing color. 

It creates quite a contrast when placed beside other brightly colored flowers, but this is why it is used to symbolize balance and resilience.

There are green calla lilies, green chrysanthemums, and green roses, which could also be used to symbolize affection.

Blue Flowers Meanings

Blue gentiana
Blue Gentiana

Unlike most colors, different shades of blue represent deep and different meaningful emotions.

Generally, though, the blue color symbolizes calmness and serenity, but like the ocean, there is quite a lot of strength underneath.

Still, blue flowers stand for affection, desire, pure love, and inspiration.

Gifting blue flowers can be a way to show trust, intimacy and propose harmony. It is the perfect choice of flowers for couples who want to communicate their commitment to each other.

Purple Flowers Meanings

Violet flowers
Violet flowers

Purple is the color of royalty. It symbolizes grace and elegance. Also, the color purple is quite enchanting, so it is often used to represent mystery, refinement, and rich regality. 

In the same breath, you should gift purple flowers to people you respect, such as your family or even a romantic partner.

You can also gift purple flowers as a way to encourage or motivate a person who may have experienced a roadblock in their creativity.

Lavender Flowers Meanings

Purple foxglove
Purple foxglove

Lavender is a lighter tint/shade of purple and therefore represents something different.

This flower often means serenity, devotion, calmness, and even silence.

It is one of the most beautiful colors in the world, which makes it an ideal symbol of elegance. Some cultures also use lavender for hypnotic purposes.

White Flowers Meanings

White daisies

White symbolizes purity and innocence; untainted hearts, souls, and minds. It also means honesty, elegance, and clarity.

White blossoms can be given when you don’t want someone to misconstrue your feelings for them. It is also used as a gift to someone you are in an ambiguous or undefined relationship with. White is also used to express love, respect, and loyalty.

There are a couple of white flowers to choose from as a gift; they include white roses, white daisies, white orchids, and white lilies.

Because they mean purity, white roses are also used in bridal bouquets when walking down the aisle in western societies.

Ivory Flowers Meanings

A wedding bouquet of ivory roses
A wedding bouquet of ivory roses

Ivory is a rich color that represents charm. Ivory flowers, specifically ivory roses, are a symbolism of joy, richness, and perfection. 

Giving ivory roses can be used to wish someone wealth, wellness, and a sign that you care deeply about them.

There is often no romantic involvement attached when gifting ivory roses, making it the perfect gift for platonic friends and colleagues.

Ivory flowers can also be used in wedding decorations.

Black Flowers Meanings

Black tulip
Black tulips, also known as Queen of the Night

Black as a color has been attributed to negative and ominous meanings, however, there is more to this color. 

Although they seem to come straight from some fairytale world, indeed, black flowers don’t really exist–most are very dark shades of red or purple.

Still, it symbolizes strength, rebirth, mystery, elegance, power, and farewell.

Hence why black flowers bring a negative message when it comes to romance–it’s used for break-ups.

On the other hand, black flowers are rare and unique, so a single black flower sends a powerful message with a hint of mystery.

Some beautiful black flowers include black velvet petunia, bat orchid, black pansy, black calla lily, and Queen of the Night tulip.

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