A guide to the secret language of flowers.

To you, my little prairie flower, I’m thinkin’ of you every hour.

Much was made of Meghan Markle’s wedding bouquet, which included Forget-Me-Nots, Princess Diana’s favorite flower symbolizing memories; sweet peas, expressing appreciation; lily of the valley, symbolizing luck in love; astilbe, representing patience; jasmine, signifying sensuality; astrantia, denoting courage; and myrtle, symbolizing hope and love. In other words, Meghan’s wedding bouquet spoke volumes.

Flowers have long been used to communicate emotions. Here we share a garden of opportunities for using flowers to communicate festive sentiments. 

Flowers have long been used to express feelings. The practice of assigning specific meanings to flowers began in Turkey in the 17th century and came into full bloom during the Victorian era, when people were expected to keep their feelings in check. During that time, flowers became a secret language for expressing emotions, and floriography directories—floral reference books—became popular.

Understanding the meaning of flowers provides a fun way to communicate a party’s theme. Hosting a new neighbor for lunch? A centerpiece of yellow roses will be perfect. Celebrating a wedding anniversary? Peonies will strike the right floral note. Read on for a garden of opportunities to use posies to communicate festive sentiments.

A Guide to the Secret Language of Flowers

Photo by Liz Banfield, courtesy of Flower magazine.

The Salonniere’s Guide to the Secret Language of Flowers

Astilbe: “I’ll still be waiting.”
: Strength, courage, and protection
: Childishness
Calla Lily: Magnificent beauty
Camellia: Admiration, perfection, and good luck when given to a man
Camellia (white): Adoration
Chrysanthemum: Abundance and wealth
Daffodil (yellow): Chivalry
Dahlia: Dignity, grace, and elegance
Forget-Me-Not: Memories
Freesia: Innocence
Gardenia: Secret love
Gerbera: Innocence
Hyacinth (purple): “Forgive me.”
Hyacinth (red or pink): Playfulness
Hydrangea: “Thank you for understanding.”

A Guide to the Secret Language of Flowers

Dahlias are the perfect centerpiece at an elegant dinner party.

Iris: Faith and wisdom
Iris (yellow): Passion
Jasmine: Love, beauty, and sensuality
Lilac: Beauty and pride
Lily: Majesty and honor
Lily of the Valley: Humility, sweetness, and luck in love
Magnolia: Nobility
Morning Glory: Affection
Myrtle: Love and marriage
Orchid: Love, beauty, and fertility
Pansy: “You occupy my thoughts.”
Peony: Happy marriage

A Guide to the Secret Language of Flowers

Peonies are wonderful for anniversary celebrations.

Petunia: “Your presence soothes me.”
Poppy (yellow): Wealth and success
Ranunculus: “I am dazzled by your charms.”
Rose (orange): Fascination
Rose (red): Love and desire
Rose (yellow): Friendship
Snapdragon: Gracious lady
Sweet pea: “Thank you for a lovely time.”
Tulip (yellow): “There’s sunshine in your smile.”
Tulip (white): Peace and love
Violet (white): “Let’s take a chance on happiness.”
Zinnia (magenta): Lasting affection

Red roses communicate love and passion.

Photo sources: Getty, Carolyne Roehm

Want to read more about flowers? Here are a few more stories that we think you’ll enjoy:

Carolyne Roehm and the secrets to her entertaining style

The best floral party dresses for spring

The 10 best floral-inspired tabletop products

A guide to the 10 best edible flowers

The Secret Language of Flowers

Welcome Photo and Quote Mashup

Welcome photo: Elizabeth Taylor
Welcome quote: The Awful Truth (1937)

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