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Say it with Flowers
- What Plants can Mean
Centre of the City, Toronto, January/February 2006.

When we give the gift of flowers, we usually look for the prettiest, healthiest, longest-lasting blooms. Perhaps we even try to match the flowers to the home décor of the recipient. There is renewed interest, however, in the meanings of certain flowers. Whether you share this interest or not, if the person receiving your floral gift is up on their plant meanings, your bouquet could take on a whole new meaning!

Attributing meanings to different flowers first became popular during Victorian times, when courtships began with much less immediate personal contact, and communication was governed by very strict and complicated social rules. Some of these attributes have stayed in place, such as red roses for love, and white for purity, but most fell out of fashion over the years.

With renewed interest in gardening and related activities, these symbolic meanings are now increasingly popular.

Almond
- money and prosperity, wisdom
Aloe
- good luck
Alyssum
- calms anger
Allium
- unity, humility, patience
Apple
- love
- healing and immortality
Astilbe
- I’ll still be waiting
Azalea
- fragile passion
- symbol of womanhood
- take care while I'm away
Bamboo
- symbol of longevity
- symbol of strength and grace
- breaking hexes or spells
Basil
- wealth
- exorcising evil
Bay
- psychic or extraordinary powers
Begonia
- beware, take care
Bleeding heart
- unrequited love
Carnation
- general - symbol of betrothal or of marriage
- pink and red - missing your love
- solid colour - yes
- striped - no, refusal, or wish I was there
- white - innocence, pure love
- yellow - disappointment, rejection
Chrysanthemum
- long life
- friendship and good cheer
- white - truth
- yellow - a symbol of slighted love
Clematis
- mental beauty
Coral Bells
- challenge
Coreopsis
- always cheerful
Cyclamen
- goodbye
Daisy
- innocence
- keeping a secret, I’ll never tell
- luck and lust
Dogwood
- love undiminished
Fern
- magic, fascination
Forget-me-not
- request to be remembered
- true love
Forsythia
- anticipation
Geranium
- fertility, love, protection
Heather
- protection
Hibiscus
- love, lust, delicate beauty
Honeysuckle
- symbol of love and generosity
- psychic powers, money Hydrangea
- frigidity
- heartlessness
- thank you for understanding
Iris
- faith and hope
- wisdom
- friendship
Ivy
- fidelity
- affection
Lavender
- love, protection
- longevity
Lilac
- devotion
Lily
- purity and chastity, virginity
Orange
- love, luck, money
- mock orange - deceit
Palm
- success
- victory
Peony
- protection
Periwinkle
- mental prowess, money
Petunia
- anger, resentment
Phlox
- united souls
Quince
- temptation
Rose
- red - symbol of love
- white - symbol of purity or virginity
- yellow - infidelity
- single bloom - I love you
Rosemary
- remembrance
- fidelity
Spirea
- victory, conceit
Sunflower
- infatuation
Tulip
- red - declaration of love
- variegated - beautiful eyes
- yellow - beautiful smile
Violet
- faithfulness
- watchfulness

Next time you receive flowers, look a little more closely. There may be a hidden meaning, in the flowers themselves.


Helen Kirkup
HMK Consultants
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Also by Helen Kirkup:
The Kirkups: Pioneers & Travellers
Available now on Amazon.com