Home & Garden

The language of flowers: Different flowers' meanings

Author: Canadian Living

Home & Garden

The language of flowers: Different flowers' meanings

If you ever give or receive flowers, beware: that bouquet may mean more than you think. In the Victorian era, particular flowers in certain colours were chosen to express specific feelings. Using this language of flowers – called "floriography" – a bud, bouquet or even a boutonniere delivered more than colour and scent. Here's what some familiar flowers may convey:

Apple blossom - Good things to come
Aster - Contentment
Buttercup - Childishness
Pink carnation - Gratitude
Yellow carnation - Rejection
Crocus - Gladness
Daffodil - Chivalry and respect
Daisy - Innocence and purity
Daylily - Enthusiasm
Dill - Lust
Edelweiss - Daring and courage
Forsythia - Anticipation
Gardenia - Secret love and joy
Blue hyacinth - Constancy
Ivy - Wedded love and fidelity
Lavender - Loyalty
White lily - Heavenly purity
Lily of the valley - Humility
Mint - Virtue
Orange blossom - Marriage and fertility
Palm leaves - Victory
Dark crimson rose - Mourning
Pink rose - Friendship
Red Rose - Passionate love
Snowdrop - Hope
Sunflower - Adoration
Red tulip - Declaration of love
Violet - Faithfulness

So that beautiful bouquet of dark crimson roses and white lilies surrounded by palm leaves that you just sent to your friend or love one could be telling her, "Many are mourning my victory and success within our relationship, as it's heavenly to be with you!" But – since floriography word lists vary – it could simply be saying, "Hi!"

5 best ways to make your bouquet last
1. Buy fresh flowers. Avoid flowers with any signs of mildew or mould, and look for buds that are just beginning to open. A&P, Dominion and Loblaws help out by guaranteeing their blooms will last for a specified number of days.

2. Keep it clean and lukewarm. Start with a squeaky-clean container and lukewarm water (tepid water is more readily absorbed than cold), then change the water every other day.
3. Add a floral preservative. Most bouquets come with their own packet of goodies that provide nutrients and prevent bacterial growth – all to keep the flowers fresher longer.

4. Strip and recut the stems. Remove any leaves that will be immersed, then recut the stems to encourage water uptake. Trim soft stems straight across. Cut woody stems on an angle, then smash or slit the bottom 2.5 cm (1 in). Pinch small wads of cotton from a cotton ball and stuff them into the bottom of hollow stems to help them hold moisture.

5. Show them off in a good spot. Set your floral arrangement away from drafts, direct sunlight, radiators and ripening fruits (the latter emit ethylene, which prevents buds from opening, discolours blooms and leaves, and shortens vase life).

Read more:
Arrange flowers with a flourish

Three easy Valentine's Day crafts for kids
Make a rose-filled heart wreath

This story was originally titled "She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not" in the February 2008 issue.

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The language of flowers: Different flowers' meanings