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Flower Color Meaning in Gardens and Art

Flower color meaning brings new life to floral paintings, gardens and gift-giving! Creating a beautiful garden is like painting a picture in living color. Gardening for pleasure as well as gardening to grow food is an almost universal human occupation. Achieving color harmony, contrast and effective color combinations is a fascinating art.

Flower color meaning can be specific even for the same type of flower. For example, a red tulip has a different meaning than a yellow tulip. However, there are general color meanings that can guide the creation of a garden, a bouquet or the choice of a gift for a symbolic purpose. 

In addition to gifts and bouquets, gardens can be created in honor of a loved one who has passed on or as a celebration for a special event such as an outdoor wedding. Likewise, artwork can be chosen based on the colors of the flowers depicted.

Knowing flower color meaning will bring your appreciation of flowers to a whole new level. The next time you are planning a garden or choosing a gift, don’t forget to consider flower color meaning! By doing so, you can create a garden or giving a gift that is a conversation piece as well as a beautiful sight to see.

Red Flower Color Meaning

The color psychology for red flowers includes pleasure, desire and vitality. In addition, red represents the will to win, love of sports and the survival instinct.

Red flowers are stimulating and eye-catching. The intensity of red flowers creates movement and drama. Accordingly, bright red flowers symbolize cheerfulness and happiness.

Red flowers include poppies, poinsettias, daylilies, tulips, pansies and zinnias. These flowers all come in “warm” colors:  red, orange and yellow.  Likewise they are all considered to be stimulating colors.

Painting & Gifts: Asia’s Treasures by Kathleen Karlsen

Orange Flower Color Meaning

Orange flowers raise the spirits and reflect the joy of sunshine. Cheerful orange flowers symbolize warmth, fire, energy and vitality. Common orange flowers include marigolds, daylilies, nasturtiums, and calendula. 

The flower color meanings for orange are creativity, confidence, intuition, friendliness and the entrepreneurial spirit. For example, is there anything happier and more promising than a meadow of beautiful marigolds? 

Yellow Flower Color Meaning

Yellow flowers are the heralds of spring. Sunshine yellow flowers symbolize the clearing away of the winter and stimulate clear thinking. Well-known yellow flowers include daffodils, crocus, irises, daylilies, coneflowers, dandelions and chrysanthemums. The color meanings of yellow are enthusiasm, cheerfulness, sense of humor, fun, optimism and intellectuality.

Painting & Gifts: Meadow of Gold by Kathleen Karlsen

White Flower Color Meaning

White flowers symbolize purity, contemplation and innocence. Many night-flowering plants are white, symbolizing the feminine energies of the moon. White flowers include daylilies, gardenias, alyssum and baby’s breath. Use white to give breathing space in your garden from the intensity of bright colors demanding attention. White means purity, inner illumination and spirituality. 

Pink Flower Color Meaning

Pink flowers symbolize love and healing from grief, anxiety or emotional trauma. A rose garden is the quintessential pink garden. Other pink flowers include chrysanthemums, irises, daylilies, camellias, azaleas, carnations, peonies and dahlias. Pink is related to warmth and love, gentleness, beauty, and an outward orientation.

Painting & Gifts: Blossoms of Spring by Kathleen Karlsen

Blue Flower Color Meaning

Blue flowers symbolize the peace of ocean and sky. The impact of blue flowers is cooling and calming. As a general meaning, blue symbolizes water, the source of life. The color meanings of blue are related to freedom, strength and new beginnings. Blue skies mean optimism and better opportunities. 

The blue lotus in Buddhism symbolizes the victory over the senses. The blue lotus is psychoactive and has been used as an aphrodisiac, sleep aid and anxiety reliever. Blue flowers include irises, asters, bluebells, hyacinths, periwinkles, delphiniums, anemone, bachelor buttons, forget-me-nots and morning glories.

Blue Flower Color Meaning

Painting: Blue Lotus by Kathleen Karlsen

Purple Flower Color Meaning

Purple and violet colors soothe the mind and nerves. Some color psychologists say purple helps to relieve tension and dissipate anger and violence.

Violet Flower Color Meaning

The color meanings of violet are the psychological quality of transformation, transmutation and the balance of power and love. Additional meanings include charisma, charm, magical abilities and tolerance.

Purple and violet flowers include lilacs, violets, irises, pansies, sweet peas, foxglove, lupines, allium and crocuses.

Painting & Gifts: Lupine Majesty by Kathleen Karlsen

Creating Flower Combinations in Your Garden

Flowers can be combined in gardens in a variety of interesting ways. Flowers can be arranged in layers, by color, in natural groupings or by time of bloom. Non-flowering plants and vegetables can be used to add foliage and structure. Some gardens are also created with smell in mind and contain flowers that give off fragrant perfume throughout the growing season.

Arrange a Garden in Layers

To arrange a garden by layers, start at the back. Usually three tiers are sufficient, and the third tier is the tallest layer of plants. This tier is located either at the back or on the sides furthest from the viewer’s eye. For very large gardens, this tier can be a tree line. For smaller gardens, shrubs or the tallest plants to be included in the garden can be used.

Second and first tier plants can be somewhat merged with the third tier to give the garden different dimensions from different angles. This also helps to avoid an overly structured, highly formal garden. Low-lying ground cover can constitute the first tier and varying heights of intermediate level flowers can ease the transition from the lowest layer of flowers to the tallest.

Arrange a Garden By Flower Colors

The key to remember when arranging gardens by color is that colors look different depending on the colors placed next to them. Bright colors jump forward whereas pastels recede visually. Colors with the same hue or intensity can stand well next to each other. Opposite colors will create excitement and a sense of action. Gardens are usually arranged around a main color, such as red, with all of the other colors functioning in secondary roles. This helps avoid competing colors that create too much tension rather than a relaxing effect.

Arrange a Garden to Mimic Nature

Arranging gardens by natural groupings of plants mimics the patterns set in nature. This can be accomplished by placing plants adjacent to each other that would naturally grow together in the wild or by grouping plants that bloom at the same time. Plants naturally grow together when their sizes and leaf shapes complement each other so that they are not competing for sunlight or other resources. When plants are grouped by time of bloom, the focus for the garden can shift as the season progresses. Each area of the garden has a time when the attention is focused on the blossoms in that area.

Try one of these possibilities for combining flowers in your garden this year and enjoy the results all summer long!

More on the web: Top 15 Most Exotic Flowers Around the World.

Floral Art & Gifts

Floral artwork and gifts on this site are based on paintings by Kathleen Karlsen. Other prints and gifts including yoga symbols, Eastern deities and more are based on illustrations by Rose Karlsen and Sammy Ater. See all ARTWORK categories and products.

Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen Sacred Mantras & Symbolic Art

Kathleen Karlsen is the author of the book Flower Symbols: The Language of Love. This handy reference book includes extensive flower meanings and folklore about the world’s most beloved flowers. Flower Symbols is the perfect gift for yourself or a flower lover in your life! 

Kathleen is a writer, artist and musician living in Bozeman, Montana. She is the mother of five kids (teen to adult) and the author of two books. Kathleen’s other book is Vocal Medicine: Transformation through Sound. Listen to Kathleen’s MUSIC and see more of her ARTWORK

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