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The Language of Flowers: Find Flowers by Meaning

Understanding the language of flowers will help you to find the right flower for any occasion, person or holiday! Flowers have been given as gifts for special occasions throughout history.

The language of flowers assigns symbolic meaning to a wide variety of flowers. This practice began as early as recorded history. Some form of a flower language is present in nearly all cultures.  

Flowers accompany us in every major event in life: birth, holidays, graduations, marriage, illness, and death. The language of flowers continues to inspire gift givers and decorators today. Find the meanings of over 100 favorite flowers categorized by topic below.

Since many flowers have multiple meanings, some flowers appear in more than one category. Categories below include beauty, hope, faith, freedom, friendship, good fortune, happiness,  humility, immortality, love and prosperity. 

Meaning of Flowers Bouquet

The Victorian Language of Flowers

The use of flowers to represent emotions was developed to a high degree during Victorian times. Due to the strict protocol of that era, emotions were not openly expressed between men and women. Instead, an elaborate language based on flower symbolism was developed. Gifts of single flowers or bouquets conveyed clear messages to the recipient.

The beauty of flowers also inspired the tradition of naming girls after flowers. Popular girls’ names related to flower meanings include Rose, Daisy, Lily, Holly, Violet, Heather, Fern, Jasmine, Myrtle, and Lavender.

During the Victorian era, flowers adorned nearly everything. This included hair, clothing, jewelry, home decor, china plates, stationary, wallpaper, furniture and more. Flower meanings were even associated with scents. For example, a scented handkerchief might be given in place of actual flowers. Gifts of either single flowers or bouquets conveyed clear messages through flower meanings to the recipient.

Victorian Language of Flowers

Language of Flowers in Religion

Flower meanings and symbolism began with ancient religions. Many flowers were originally linked to deities including Venus, Diana, Jupiter and Apollo. During the Renaissance, nature was viewed as a reflection of the divine. Flowers are used today to convey feelings in a more general way than in Victorian times. Many florists provide information on flower meanings. This helps to encourage the practice of helping modern gift-givers to “say it with flowers.” The symbolic meanings of many flowers has been obscured by time. The meanings may remain only as a few key phrases or words. 

Guide to the Language of Flowers

Flowers Meaning Beauty

The inherent beauty of flowers themselves has made them symbols of beauty the world around. Some of these flowers grow in many climates while others grow only in a few temperature zones. As a result, there are a number of flowers meaning beauty. This allows each nation, people and climate to claim a flower meaning beauty for their own! Find full articles on Calla Lilly Meaning, Orchid Meaning, Rose Meaning and Marigold Meaning. In the language of flowers, the following flowers specifically mean beauty:

Acacia Flower Alyssum Amaryllis
Anemone Apple Blossoms Calla Lily
Cowslip Daisy Gladiola
Hibiscus  Honeysuckle Lilac
Myrtle Orchid Rose

Flowers Meaning Hope

Flowers have long been used to encourage the ill and give hope to the grieving. Flowers bring a spot of cheer to a gloomy day. The appearance of flowers in the spring is a universal sign of hope. Particular flowers also carry the meaning of hope the whole year through! Find full article on Daffodil Meaning. Flowers that mean cheerfulness and hope in the language of flowers include :

Almond Anemone Chrysanthemum
Coreopsis Crocus Daffodil
Rose of Sharon Snowdrop  

Flowers Meaning Faith

Flowers have often been used as a symbol of true love and faithfulness. Find full articles on Calla Lilly Meaning, Daisy Meaning, and Iris Meaning. The following are flowers that mean faith and fidelity in the language of flowers:

Calla Lily Compass Flower Daisy
Dandelion Iris Lemon Blossoms
Passion Flower Veronica Violet

Flowers Meaning Freedom

Flowers have been used as symbols of political and personal freedom for centuries. In modern times, the tulip has been associated with freedom. After WWII, Holland shipped thousands of bulbs to Canada. This was thanks for their help in freeing Holland from occupation. Flowers can be used to represent concepts and abstract ideas. These concepts may be difficult to out picture in the physical realm. Those dedicated to religions or political persuasions use flowers to convey their ideals. Find full articles on Iris Meaning and Tulip Meaning. The flowers below are particularly associated with freedom and truth in the language of flowers:

Bird of Paradise Chrysanthemum (White) Iris              
Tulips Water Lilly  

Flowers Meaning Friendship

Flowers express the essence of friendship. Various flowers express all of the subtle differences in affection, love and true caring between old and new friends. Find full articles on Iris Meaning and Rose Meaning. Flowers that mean friendship in the language of flowers include:

Acacia Flower Arbor Vitae Chrysanthemum
Geranium Honeysuckle Iris
Periwinkle Snowdrop Roses (Yellow)

Flowers Meaning Good Fortune

Flowers meaning good fortune exist in many cultures around the world. They are often associated with marriage and best wishes for the happy couple. See the list below for flowers particularly associated with good luck in the language of flowers:

Bells of Ireland Clover Heather
Lavender Orange Blossom Shamrock

Flowers Meaning Happiness

Flowers are often associated with happy times—births, weddings, graduations. Find full articles on Rose Meaning and  Marigold Meaning. Below are flowers specifically meaning happiness in the language of flowers:

Apple Blossoms Carnation Chrysanthemum
Corchorus Coreopsis Crocus
Dandelion Gardenia Holly
Hyacinth Lily of the Valley Marigold
Rose Stephanotis Violet

Flowers Meaning Humility

Some flowers grow close to the ground. They are easily trampled by the insensitive or unknowing. This inherently makes them a symbol of humility. In addition, other flowers have been associated with the quality of humility in the language of flowers. Find full article on Bluebell Meaning and Poppy Meaning. The beauty, gentleness and vulnerability of flowers make them an ideal symbol of humility.

Alyssum Baby’s Breath Bluebells
Buttercup Chrysanthemum Poppy

Flowers Meaning Immortality

Some flowers that bloom perennially or in spite of hard circumstances. These flowers are natural candidates for meanings related to immortality and youth. Other flowers bloom over the course of a long season. Some open and close with the cycles of each day. Find a full article on Foxglove Meaning. These are also symbols of immortality and youth in the language of flowers:

Apple Blossom Bamboo Foxglove
 Globe Amaranth  Lilac Primrose

Flowers Meaning Love

Flowers are the ultimate symbol of love. Single flowers and bouquets have been given by lovers to woo their sweethearts for all of recorded history. By association these flowers can sometimes be a symbol of ardor and romantic passion as well. According to the highly developed tradition known as the language of flowers, each flower has a special meaning. They can convey a myriad of emotions in a discreet way. The most cherished, however, are the flowers that say “I love you.” Some are well known. Others may surprise you. Find full articles on Daffodil MeaningDaisy MeaningIris MeaningOrchid MeaningRose Meaning and Tulip Meaning.

Aster Azalea Bachelor Button
Cactus Campion Carnation
Cherry Blossom Chrysanthemum Cinquefoil
Coxcomb Daffodil Daisy
Dandelion Everlastings Fern
Forget-Me-Not Fuschia Gardenia
Gladiola Globe Amaranth  Gloxinia
Honeysuckle Impatiens Iris
Lilac Lotus Myrtle
Orange Blossom Orchid Passion Flower
Roses (Red) Tulip Violet

Flowers Meaning Prosperity

An abundance of flowers in the home is sure to uplift the spirits and fortunes of all inhabitants! Some flowers are associated with prosperity simply because they grow aggressively. This multiplies their numbers quickly. Others are associated with wealth due to their color (yellow representing gold and wealth). Find full articles on Daffodil Meaning and Poppy Meaning. See the flowers below associated with prosperity in the language of flowers.

Bamboo Buttercup Cattail
Chrysanthemum Daffodil Lunaria
Poppy Peony  

More Flower Symbolism

Explore the meaning of flower colors, the history of the Victorian language of flowers, the symbolic meaning of flowers in art and over a dozen articles on specific flowers on this website. More on the web: Top 15 Most Exotic Flowers Around the World. Brighten up any space with gifts and decor featuring beautiful flowers! Find posters, prints, canvases and more. See all floral art & gifts.

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 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

This video is Kathleen Karlsen’s story of discovering flower symbolism. 

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