Throughout history, lovers have given flowers as tokens of longing and devotion. But although the language and meaning of flowers have their roots in the ancient past, they've evolved somewhat over the years.
The first rule of giving flowers to your spouse is to give what she likes. That's more important than anything else. What's her favorite? The flower's meaning — either ancient or modern — becomes moot if she has one.
She likes what she likes, and a meaning attached to the bud centuries ago may not matter to her. But if you really want to impress and your spouse doesn't have any particular favorite bloom, here's a guide to some flowers along with their meanings.
You can give your spouse an amaryllis or you can give her the bulbs so she can grow her own. They'll bloom in vibrant colors from delicate pink to red to maroon. This is a tropical plant but it can be grown indoors and should come back every winter so you're giving a promise of the future. This flower symbolizes pride and beauty.
Bird of Paradise
Is your spouse magnificent? Giving the bird of paradise says she's spectacular. It's a perennial, native to South Africa and — you guessed it — the blooms resemble birds. It's also called a crane flower. Give the plant and watch it bloom again and again over the seasons. If it's kept in warm, greenhouse conditions, it will come back year after year.
This flower is native to Asia, blooming from Indonesia to the Himalayas and even beyond. The camellia grows in two intriguing colors, each with different meanings. Depending on what you want to say to your love, one of them should fit the bill. The red camellia tells your spouse that she's a flame in your heart.
The white one says she's adorable. Combine the two if she's both.
This flower has gotten something of a bum rap over the years, finding itself relegated to cheap, juvenile and commonplace. But carnations are actually pretty complex and they don't deserve this reputation. They grow in bursts of five different kinds of petals in a multitude of colors. The white carnation symbolizes innocence, faithfulness and pure love. White carnations were handed out on the first Mother's Day in 1908. Stay away from yellow ones, though — they mean disdain and rejection, the equivalent of, "You have disappointed me."
They're beautiful in fields, and they look just as fine clutched in a fist or in bouquets. The daffodil represents new beginnings. It tells your spouse that she's the only one. This is the official flower of the 10th wedding anniversary, and if that's not enough, it's also the national symbol of Wales. Don't ever give just a single daffodil — this connotes misfortune. But if you give several, it means joy and happiness.
Forget Me Nots
The name of this flower says it all. It grows in clusters of delicate, blue blooms, and it's the emblem of the Masonic fraternity, intended as a vow not to forget and refuse assistance to the poor. If this sounds less than romantic, take heart. This flower also symbolizes true love, hope, remembrance and memories.
These are those somewhat tubular blooms comprised of clusters of long, skinny petals. Native to the Mediterranean, hyacinths come in a variety of colors. Blue means constancy — a good thing in a marriage. Purple is an apology and a plea for forgiveness. Red and pink hyacinths denote playfulness and white connotes loveliness. The yellow version may not be appropriate in a marriage, or at least it's not an emotion you want to have to address. It means jealousy.
Jasmine is a flower in the olive family. It's tropical and is known as the flower of romance, and its fragrance is incredible. A white jasmine means amiability and willingness. It might be a good choice when you're conceding a war of wills. Yellow jasmines mean grace and elegance. The Spanish version implies sensuality. You might want to offer white and Spanish jasmine together for the best possible outcome.
You can give this one even if your beloved is a night owl. It says, "I love you" and implies affection. It's the official flower of the 11th wedding anniversary — all that love and affection have lasted more than a decade. Morning glories cover over 1,000 different species of flowers, however, so confirm with the florist that what you're buying is a traditional morning glory.
Orchids have a reputation for being elegant and utterly unique. They're indoor plants, averse to cold or even lukewarm conditions. Growing them can be a tad challenging, but the reward is great. They signify rare beauty and refinement, and they're associated with the 28th wedding anniversary. They're also considered to be ageless — you're telling your beloved that you'll cherish her just as much 30 years from now as you do today.
No list would be complete without this one. The rose is the flower of romance, love, passion and perfection, and it has been since ancient times. Its name derives from the Latin word rosa, which means red, but this can be misleading because roses come in so very many different colors. Here's the breakdown on what they all mean:
- Burgundy: Beauty within
- Coral: Desire
- Lavender: Love at first sight, enchantment
- Orange: Fascination and enthusiasm
- Peach: Desire, gratitude, appreciation, admiration, sympathy, modesty
- Pink: Happiness, appreciation, admiration, friendship, sympathy
- Dark pink: Thankfulness
- Light pink: Grace, gladness, joy, perfect happiness, please believe me, gratitude, admiration, gentility
- Red: Love, passion, respect, courage, I love you, beauty, pure and lovely, prosperity
- Deep red: Self-awareness of beauty.
- White: Innocence, purity, secrecy, I am worthy of you, silence, friendship, truth, virtue, girlhood, humility spiritual love of the soul, reverence, charm and happy love
- Red and white roses given together: Unity — this is the flower emblem of England
- Yellow and red roses given together: Happiness, congratulations
- Yellow and orange roses given together: Passionate thoughts
Giving a single rose in full bloom in any color means, "I love you. I still love you." A small single rosebud means pure, lovely and youth. It's traditionally used to confess love. A rose without thorns means love at first sight.
So there you have it — the perfect floral gift for your next special occasion.