Rose Color Meanings

Learn How to Say Exactly What You Mean With Flowers

Rose stem with a red rose flower.
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When giving cut flowers as gifts for Valentine's Day or other occasions, the discriminating shopper sticks to a time-honored formula that takes into account rose color meanings. The formula matches a flower's color to its intended meaning as a gift. The language of flowers (so-called "floriography") extends beyond roses, but we probably invest the most time and money in giving the latter, so you might as well take your game to the next level by knowing what the various rose colors mean.

Red Roses the Stars, but Other Colors Have Their Places

Valentine's Day is primarily a lovers' holiday, and red is traditionally reserved for lovers. Red enjoys an iconic status, even though other colors have their place on the holiday. Our close family members may also be treated to red posies for Valentine's Day (because a secondary meaning of red is respect), but we avoid this color choice for friends on Valentine's Day: That would simply convey the wrong meaning. The following are the meanings traditionally ascribed to the most popular roses, according to colors:

  • Red means romantic love.
  • Purple, coral, and orange each challenge red as the main color for Valentine's Day. The rose color meanings of these three (and closely related colors) are as follows:
    • The specific purpose of purple is to signify that the giver has fallen in love with the recipient at first sight. The same message can be sent based on the number of roses that you give: Giving a solitary red rose symbolizes love at first sight.
    • Meanwhile, coral signals desire.
    • And orange, along with salmon and apricot, connotes enthusiasm, energy, excitement, and desire. Peach is more ambiguous, as it can signify sympathy, fascination, or gratitude.
    • Peach and apricot are pretty close color-wise, so do not rely on these colors, alone to convey your intended message. Supplement such a gift with a well-crafted note on a card. Both the giver and the recipient would have to be pretty astute about colors in order for the meaning of peach or apricot to be conveyed effectively.
  • Like a purple rose, a lavender rose means love at first sight, so it can be an appropriate Valentine's Day gift when you are in a new relationship.
  • The meaning of yellow is joy and friendship.
  • We express our gratitude and appreciation with most shades of pink. Other meanings for pink include sweetness, happiness, and gentleness.
  • Feelings of admiration and sympathy find words with roses that are light pink in color.
  • Its untainted look naturally enough lends to white meanings such as purity, innocence, reverence, and humility. This is why white is so popular for wedding flowers.
  • Cream means charm and thoughtfulness, but reserve it for those who are color-conscious enough to distinguish between cream and white.
  • Some white roses have a tinge of green in them. Being the color of life and growing things, green can signify growth or rejuvenation. Such roses make a suitable gift to someone in the process of turning over a new leaf, who could use a little encouragement to undergo a renewal.

Black Roses, Other Options

Many people are curious about so-called "black" roses. These are flowers that have been sprayed or dyed black at the florist shop (they are not naturally black). Unless you are a Goth or are trying to be funny, it is best to stay away from sending black. The interpretation is too iffy because black's symbolism includes death-related themes.

If your loved ones are plant-lovers, consider buying them bushes (something they can plant outside later) for Valentine's Day, rather than cut flowers. Miniature bushes are often available at the local florist shop; once Valentine's Day arrives, spring flowers and spring planting can't be far behind.

Are you afraid of planting these beautiful bushes because of their hard-to-grow reputation? You should not be because there are plenty of easy-to-grow rose bushes that you can buy nowadays.

Here is another gift idea for Valentine's Day: a gift certificate to buy (in the spring) other fragrant plants at a garden center. And for an early taste of spring, force some forsythia and use it to decorate your Valentine's Day table.