“Flowers don’t tell, they show.” – Stephanie Skeem
When I was in middle school, I found some carnations in my locker from a secret admirer. My friend Bethany informed me that since I received a carnation, that meant whoever sent them really liked me. The truth was that the seniors were selling carnations in the school hallway to help pay for their end-of-the-year trip, but the concept of a particular flower meaning something really stuck with me (unlike the secret admirer).
If you grew up in the south like me, you’ve probably heard someone say, “you can’t send [insert type of flower here] to that person, it means [insert meaning]”. So, to help you avoid any Southern Living faux pas, we’ve compiled a list of popular flowers and their meanings.
Good Housekeeping says that these flowers were a favorite of Victorians who decided that they mean “my destiny is in your hands”.
While they may be the same flower sent to me by my secret admirer, their meaning isn’t always “I really like you”. Depending on the color, carnations can mean different things.
The overall meaning of this flower is honesty. However, just like so many other flowers, depending on the color selected, they can mean slightly different things.
These pretty little blue flowers mean good luck.
I LOVE daffodils (and I love Walt Whitman’s daffodil poem). These little buttercup flowers mean a new beginning.
This flower symbolizes dignity.
Just like the Girl Scouts (or I suppose Lorelai Gilmore) these little spring flowers mean innocence.
This is my go-to flower when I’m creating an arrangement for my table. Hydrangeas mean gratitude for being understood.
These purple wildflowers symbolize devotion (and they smell so good!).
Just like so many other beautiful flowers, lilacs remind us of and mean love.
These flowers can have so many different meanings (depending on their color or type). When I was a kid I wanted to have Calla Lilies at my wedding until someone told me they meant death (I’m glad to see that someone was wrong).
No, magnolias don’t mean Chip & Joanna Gaines are nearby. Instead, they harken back to a love of nature.
If you’re trying to make the perfect wedding bouquet, myrtle may be a good flower to include. It means good luck in marriage.
One of my favorite flowers (worth the hour drive to Trader Joes during peony season), their meaning has changed over the years. Today peonies mean romance, marriage, and bashfulness.
I love rhododendron in a garden, but I also always see bees and hornets flying around them. So, their meaning doesn’t surprise me. Rhododendron means beware (in my case, beware of the bees).
Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you… Just like our little heart emojis, the color of the rose given is extremely important to the meaning.
These were my favorite flowers in my backyard garden as a little girl. Oddly, the snapdragon has a confusing meaning. It can mean both deception and graciousness.
This feminine-looking flower means pleasure.
Beware of this flower because instead of a declaration of love, it is a declaration of war.
Just like so many other flowers, the color of the tulip informs the meaning.
These happy flowers remind us to never forget about our friends.
Thanks to the Farmer’s Almanac and Good Housekeeping for helping me out with the meanings of these flowers. I sort of feel the need to track down my middle school secret admirer and send him some carnations (but what color will I send?).