The Language of Flowers: What’s the REAL Meaning of that Valentine’s Bouquet?


Early in our courtship, my husband bought me yellow roses. I explained that yellow roses mean betrayal and duplicity, or an end to a relationship, and threw them away. I figured that, as the descendant of a long line of Texans including an Alamo defender, he’d understand what The Yellow Rose of Texas was all about.  He didn’t. Having taken Texas history from Professor Lon Tinkle, author of 13 Days to Glory, I did. No yellow roses for me, thanks!

My husband learned quickly.  I am picky about flowers and have read more than my fair share of old novels where the language of flowers plays into the plot. For example, I hate gladiola and iris, having weeded large plots and greenhouses full of them as a punishment when I was a teenager, I don’t like tropical flowers, and I love purple tulips, mixed arrangements of roses, and any kind of lily, carnation, or chrysanthemum arrangement.

That’s the key to picking any gift for anyone: finding out what they really love, and sharing that. As with any other gift, sending flowers they will love means matching your gift to the recipient’s personality. Online flower seller Blooms Today suggests asking these questions before you order flowers.  If you can answer these simple questions, you’re more likely to pick flowers that they will love.
• What colors does he or she like?
• Does he or she have a favorite flower?
• What kind of message do you want to convey?
• What adjective best describes his or her personality?

The American Society of Florists uses these adjectives to help florists design for specific personality types. If one of them matches the person to whom you are sending flowers, most florists can come up with an arrangement they’ll love because these are “known” categories.

Natural: People who are casual, earthy, and prefer the outdoors. Flowering or green plants, meadow flowers, and woodsy accents suit this personality best.

Romantic: People who are generous, spontaneous and extravagant. Bouquets of soft colors, light fragrances, and accents of lace or ribbon might suit romantics.

Expressive: Individuals who seek personal betterment and are attracted to the  unconventional, from new age to the arts. Exotic flowers and unusual combinations of shape, color and texture will match their creativity and artistic bent.

Traditional: Family oriented people who are trustworthy and prefer classic styles. They appreciate lush arrangements with a variety of flowers.

Contemporary: Individuals who are cutting-edge trend setters and live in the moment. Vogue styles such as monochromatic bouquets or arrangements with a few large, vibrant flowers are always popular with this group.

But if you’re wondering what the flowers you got for Valentine’s Day really meant, here’s a handy infographic that explains some of the meanings behind some of the most popular flowers that turn up in floral gifts. Hope your Valentine’s Day was as much fun as mine! (Yes, I got purple tulips. After nearly 18 years of marriage, my husband knows me well.)

Language of Flowers Infographic Blooms Today

Blooms Today, the online floral gifts leader, published this infographic explaining some of the traditional meanings behind popular flowers.

About debmcalister

I'm a Dallas-based marketing consultant and writer, who specializes in helping start-up technology companies grow. I write (books, articles, and blogs) about marketing, technology, and social media. This blog is about all of those -- and the funny ways in which they interesect with everyday life. It's also the place where I publish general articles on topics that interest me -- including commentary about the acting and film communities, since I have both a son and grandson who are performers.
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