Humans have always found value in flowers, but in the Victorian era they became especially significant as a way to communicate. Each flower in a bouquet had a meaning in Victorian flower language, some of them incredibly intricate; “love at first sight,” “beautiful eyes,” and even “disappointment” were all sentiments you could share using the right blooms.
We can still use this beautiful style of symbology to make our own meaning out of flower arrangements, whether they’re for others or even just for ourselves. For a full list of flowers and their meanings, you can read an archived copy of Kate Greenaway’s 1884 book Language of Flowers here, but here are a few of our favorite ideas for incorporating this beautiful language into your arrangements.
For Romantic Partners
You probably know that red roses are a typical expression for romantic love, but there are so many other flowers that can convey how much you care about someone. In Victorian flower language, sending someone a bundle of bright red tulips is a bold declaration of true love.
The hibiscus means “beauty always new,” making it the perfect sentiment to show your partner how they look in your eyes. Giving someone this gorgeous tropical flower tells them that they take your breath away every time you see them.
Verbana, also called vervain, means enchantment. These delicate purple flowers are the perfect way to show your loved one how much you’re captivated by them.
A bouquet of dwarf sunflowers isn’t just a gorgeous burst of color to brighten your loved one’s day; the Victorian meaning of this flower is adoration. A gift of sunflowers tells the recipient that they brighten your life as much as the sun does.
Finally, it might not be hard to parse that the forget-me-not has a romantic message. This beautiful blue flower is a symbol for true love and gifting them to a special someone is a message that they’re always on your mind.
Flowers don’t just have to be for romantic partners! A parcel of fragrant blooms can be the perfect way to show a friend that you’re thinking of them, or lift their spirits after a difficult day.
The ultimate symbol of friendship, a bunch of oak leaf geranium bloom literally means “true friendship” according to Victorian flower language. It’s the perfect plant to share with someone to remind them how happy you are that they’re in your life.
The Victorians say that incorporating some fresh sprigs of peppermint translates to “warmth of feeling,” so be sure to include them the next time you’re sending something to a close friend for an extra sense of familiarity and well wishes!
The bright and beautiful bluebell flower means constancy. When you send it to a friend, it indicates that you’re always going to be there for them no matter what— a great message to receive anytime.
Fragrant jasmine blooms were used by the Victorians to mean “I am too happy.” They’ll serve you well if you want to send a bouquet congratulating a friend on a milestone or accomplishment.
For Someone Going Through A Hard Time
All of us experience hardships in our lives; it’s an unavoidable part of being human. It can be hard to know what to say or how to help someone going through a hardship but sending a simple gift of beautiful flowers can be a great place to start. Sending some of these flowers with special meanings can help the recipient know that you’re thinking of them and that you care.
The flowers of the peace-bringing camomile plant have a very special meaning in Victorian flower language. These pretty white blooms are meant to symbolize energy in adversity, making them a very thoughtful gift for someone who is going through a hard time and finding themselves stretched thin.
The Victorians used poppies to indicate consolation; sending it to someone is meant to give them some comfort and remind them that they’re not alone.
If you’re trying to find the right bouquet to send someone on a tough anniversary of loss or hardship, lilacs are a beautiful choice. They stand for memory, assuring whoever receives it that their loss or pain is not forgotten.
A bouquet of marigolds symbolizes the simple message of grief. They make a beautiful gift with a heartfelt and meaningful message for someone experiencing a hard time.
For Your Home
Flowers don’t just have to be meant as gifts for others— they’re also the perfect outlet for creating a little self love and brightening up your own home. Unlocking the language of flowers can help you inform the kinds of plants you bring home, allowing you to channel their secret meanings anytime you look at them.
The complex looking lupine flowers have an equally fascinating meaning: this plant is meant to symbolize imagination. If you’ve been feeling uninspired lately, lupines are the perfect flower to help you remember your creative side.
If you’ve been feeling down, try keeping some larkspur in your house. Larkspurs mean levity, meant to brighten spirits and keep things merry and light.
Unsurprisingly, olive branches in a bouquet mean peace. You can channel this meaning by incorporating some peaceful olive into your own flower arrangements, allowing it to remind you that peace is an important thing to seek and maintain.
Daisies, also known to the Victorians as Ox Eye, symbolize patience. If you’ve found yourself having a short fuse lately or forgetting to pause before speaking or acting, a simple bunch of fresh daisies can help to serve as a reminder of the value of stillness and taking things slow.
In Victorian flower language, branches of juniper symbolize protection. In a bouquet, they’ll remind you to guard your energy and joy while you’re in your space.
In addition to being thoughtful gifts and a great way to add new life to your home, a bouquet of fresh flowers can also have so much meaning under the surface. Falling back on this elegant Victorian tradition can help you infuse some deeper thoughtfulness into the flowers you give others and the ones you keep for yourself.