Popular Flower Color Meanings Explained

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Flower arrangements are so much more than just fragrant, delicate gifts; they also have traditional meanings and messages associated with their colors and species. If you have something special to tell your loved one, say it with just the right beautiful flowers.

Colorful Romantic Roses

Of all the gorgeous flowers that grow, none are considered quite so romantic a gift as roses. Here are some traditional meanings associated with roses of different colors:

  • Red roses: Classic red roses symbolize romantic love, and almost universally carry a message of "I love you."
  • Pink roses: Just as pink is a gentler variation of red, pink roses carry a similarly toned down message. These flowers are considered a symbol of elegance and grace, and are traditionally given to express joyfulness, appreciation and admiration.
  • Lavender Roses: Delicate lavender roses are a symbol of enchantment and love at first sight.
  • White roses: In our culture, white represents purity and innocence. Because of this, white roses symbolize new beginnings such as marriage. White roses send a message of honor and reverence at the end of life's journey as well. They are often given to the family of someone who has passed on as an expression of loving remembrance.
  • Orange roses: Fiery orange roses send a message of intense romantic desire, passion and excitement.
  • Yellow roses: These sunny blooms symbolize warmth, happiness and the joy of true friendship.
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Talking with Tulips

Bright, colorful tulips signal the beginning of spring and all its associated romance. Specific tulip colors hold some interesting and surprising meanings:

  • Red tulips: Passionate red tulips are a declaration of true love and a decree of "believe me."
  • Yellow tulips: When you want to send cheerful thoughts or tell someone that his or her smile is full of sunshine, yellow tulips are the perfect choice.
  • Variegated tulips: These bi or tri-colored petals are believed to mean, "You have beautiful eyes."
  • Orange tulips: These blooms are a symbol of enthusiasm, desire, passion and energy.
  • White tulips: Give these snowy flowers as a symbol of purity, heaven and all things new.
  • Pink tulips: These gently colored flowers signify caring and affection.
  • Purple tulips: Since these elegant flowers signal royalty, give purple tulips to your "prince or princess charming."

Other Popular Flowers and What Their Colors Mean

Many other flowers of different colors also have traditional associated meanings.

Pretty, fluffy carnations of any color are a symbol of beauty and pride. Here are a few messages implied by carnations of specific colors:

  • Red carnations: Admiration, love and pride
  • Purple carnations: Capriciousness
  • Yellow carnations: Disappointment, rejection or disdain.

Hyacinth in general is considered a symbol of sporty playfulness. These hyacinth colors enhance or change this meaning:

  • Red or pink hyacinth: Playfulness
  • Purple hyacinth: Sorrow
  • Blue hyacinth: Constancy
  • Yellow hyacinth: Jealousy.

Fragrant lilacs speak of the confidence and innocence of youth. This symbol is further clarified in their two main color varieties:

  • White lilacs: innocence and humility
  • Purple lilacs: the innocence of first love.

Tall, elegant lilies send a message of refined beauty and purity. Some specific color meanings for lilies include:

  • Orange lilies: Passion
  • Yellow lilies: Gaiety
  • White lilies: Virginity and modesty.

The word Iris means "rainbow" and its delicate, colorful blossoms are considered a symbol of eloquence. This idea is expanded in a unique way with each different color variety:

  • Yellow iris: Passion
  • White iris: Purity
  • Purple iris: Compliments and wisdom
  • Blue iris: Hope and faith.

Heather blooms richly in the summer and carries very different meanings depending on color. White heather is a symbol of protection and a sign that wishes will be granted. Lavender heather, on the other hand is a symbol of solitude, beauty and admiration.

Basic Flower Color Interpretations

If you're giving a gift of flowers and don't know the specific color meaning of your favorite blooms, these general flower color meanings may help you pick out just the right bouquet:

  • Strong red: Intense red signifies the passionate emotions of romantic love, courage, desire and even anger.
  • Dark red: In deeper shades, red means continuity, constancy and immortality.
  • Pink: Gentle pink speaks of youth, admiration and new love.
  • Green: Green blossoms convey joy and optimism.
  • Violet: This shade can symbolize shyness, modesty, humility or generosity.
  • Lilac: Pale lilac hues signify a sincere and selfless love, both romantic and familial.
  • Orange: This is the color of joy, satisfaction and gratitude for success in love or personal endeavors.
  • Turquoise: Vibrant turquoise blossoms signify fulfillment for people of high intelligence.
  • Pale blue: Flowers in this pastel shade are often a symbol of worries concerning health or finances.
  • White: White flowers of just about any variety are an almost universal symbol of innocence, purity and modesty. Interestingly, these flowers are also sometimes sent when someone is waiting to hear important news.

When it comes to romance, actions often do speak louder than words. The flowers you give will help your special someone understand the depth of your feelings and hopefully return the sentiment.

Last Updated: January 4, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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