Before the use of internet, emojis and even mail, people declared their feelings and emotions through flowers and floral arrangements. This is a form of expression called floriography, or the language of flowers. It is the ability to display love, sympathy, and other emotions that are beyond words. This column will concentrate on the history of floriography, the meaning of colors and popular flowers.

The notion that flowers have meanings dates back to the early 1700s, but became popular during the Victorian era. At this time proper etiquette often limited communications based on social status and they regarded it impolite to ask openly about relationships. Flirtation existed, but it was generally in private places. Sending flowers became a way to encrypt a message. This practice became so popular that people began to publish floral dictionaries. 

Flower dictionaries defined the meaning of flowers from myth, legend, religion and so on. Charlotte de Latour wrote one of the most popular floral dictionaries in 1819, “Le Language des Fleurs,” which translated to the Language of Flowers. These dictionaries helped unravel the concealed mysteries of flowers. However, just the flowers alone do not tell the whole story. The color of a flower also held important meanings.

Color in arrangements are generally used to convey emotions. There is a universal recognition that red represented love, passion, and desire. Pink is symptomatic of gentleness, happiness and admiration. Yellow symbolizes friendship, joy and caring. Other popular colors have meaning as well. For example, blue signifies peace and tranquility. Innocence, purity and sympathy is expressed by a white flower. While orange is emblematic of excitement, desire and boldness. Likewise, green flowers meant health, good fortune and a new beginning. Beyond the color, the type of flower is also used to communicate a message. 

A carnation is considered to be one the oldest cultivated flowers in the world and means love and distinction. In the United States it is the official flower for Mother’s Day and usually worn at significant occasions. A sunflower represents long life, feelings of admiration, strength and positivity. A sunflower can send the message to follow your dreams and focus on positivity. The lilac is symbolic of renewal and confidence, and has been habitually used as a graduation gift. In addition, the tulip is significant of love and is usually identified with charity. 

Many flowers even find meaning from their scent such as Jasmine, which offers a sweet fragrance that is representational of beauty and regularly used in wedding ceremonies (Boeckmann). One must also recognize what the particular message is behind the flora arrangement. 

Creative presentation or floral arrangement possesses a specialized interpretation of its own. If a ribbon was tied to the right, the sentiment is regarding the recipient and knotted to the left was symbolism applied to the giver. A wilted bouquet was a message of death, finalization, or the end of a romance. And if they gave the flowers upside down, then the idea being conveyed was the opposite of what was it traditionally meant. 

Flowers have been a source of elegance, bliss, tranquility, passion and inspiration throughout the ages. Flowers are declared to be a significant endowment from God. And I personally believe that a world without flowers would be monotonous and desolate. 

The next time you need to express your emotions, consider a bouquet. And just for fun, create an arrangement of your own and see if your friends and loved one can figure out what you are trying to communicate. Thank you for reading. Please send any queries, comments, or ideas to

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