The language of flowers: Interpreting your Valentine’s Day blooms

red and pink roses

Did you know that the flowers you give and receive on Valentine’s Day — and throughout the year — have meanings? Floriography, or the language of flowers, has existed for centuries and was especially popular during the Victorian Era.

Here are the meanings of 15 flowers that are commonly given for Valentine’s Day, gleaned from Iowa State University Extension, the University of Wisconsin Extension, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Teleflora. We may not buy into flower meanings today like people did during the Victorian Era, but it’s fun to discover what meanings flowers convey, or used to convey.

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Notice that the meanings of some flowers are different, based on the flower’s color. You might be surprised that some flowers you love, or even flowers that you’ve been given, carry surprising meanings!


  • Red: Love
  • White: Innocence, purity
  • Red and white mixed: Unity
  • Pink: Perfect happiness; please beliered rosesve me
  • Yellow: Jealousy, try to care, decrease of love
  • Dark Crimson: Mourning
  • Bouquet of matured roses: Gratitude
  • Roses without thorns: Love at first sight
  • Single full bloom: I love you or I still love you
  • Tea roses: I’ll always remember
  • Red rosebuds: Pure and lovely
  • White rosebuds: Girlhood


  • General: Innocence, purity, loyal love, I’ll never tell

red tulipsTulips

  • General: Perfect lover, flame
  • Red: Love, believe me
  • Yellow: There’s sunshine in your smile
  • Variegated: Beautiful eyes


  • General: Fascination
  • A solid color: Yes
  • Striped: No, refusal, sorry I can’t be with you, wish I could be with you
  • Red: Admiration, my heart aches for you
  • Pink: I’ll never forget you
  • White: Innocence, purity, women’s good luck gift
  • Purple: Capriciousness
  • Yellow: You have disappointed me


  • Tiger lily: Wealth, pride
  • Yellow: I’m walking on air
  • Orange: Hatred
  • White: Purity, majesty, it’s heavenly to be with you
  • Calla lily: Beauty
  • Day lily: Coquetry
  • Alstroemeria (Peruvian lilies): Friendship, devotion


  • Love, beauty, refinement, beautiful lady

purple hyacinthHyacinths

  • General: Games, sport, rashness
  • Blue: Constancy
  • Red: Play
  • Pink: Play
  • White: Loveliness, I’ll pray for you
  • Purple: Please forgive me; sorrow; I am sorry
  • Yellow: Jealousy


  • Faith, hope, friendship means a lot, wisdom and valor, my compliments


  • Red: You’re a flame in my heart
  • Pink: Longing for you
  • White: You’re adorable

pink peoniesPeonies

  • Happy life, happy marriage, shame, bashfulness


  • Heartlessness, thank you for understanding, frigidity


  • You’re lovely, secret love


  • General: Modesty
  • Blue: Watchfulness, faithfulness, I’ll always be there


  • Red: I love you
  • Yellow: Slighted love
  • White: Truth


  • Magenta: Lasting affection
  • Scarlet: Constancy
  • White: Innocence, purity, I am worthy of you

You can learn about the meanings of additional flowers and colors on the University of Wisconsin Extension website, in Iowa State University Extension’s publication and on the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension website.


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