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The Secret Meaning of Flowers @ Girl-Doll Fashion Gossip

  The Secret Meaning of Flowers (Doll Article)

(March 28, 2008 by JeZz Send DollMail )
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A hundred years ago flowers had a special power. They could convey secret messages through various floral arrangements. I’m not kidding – the Victorian era was peculiar about a lot of things, and the symbolic meaning of different types of flowers was one of the most interesting developments from the period.

Haven’t you ever wondered if there is something extra special in the single red rose? Is it just romantic or is your boyfriend just too cheap to afford a full dozen? If you were alive at the turn of the century (or a little before or after), you’d already know that the red rose is a symbol of passionate love. The more passionate you are, the more roses you get.

I should add the Victorians were extremely strict about their virtue and morals. A bare ankle was hot stuff and could get a girl in serious trouble if she were reported to have raised her floor length skirts a bit too high. Imagine the trouble a girl your age would be in if some boy started buying her “passionate love” flowers. Oh my!


The most popular flower has many meanings. Like I said before, the red rose is passionate love. The white rose on the other hand is purity, perhaps why it is used at so many weddings. A pink rose is friendship, and a yellow rose means you are zealous or excited. A rose that is both red and white is a symbol of unity – I wonder why we don’t see more of these at weddings.

Just to give you an idea of how the covert Victorian flower language worked, you and a boy you didn’t really like might be walking in a rose garden with a suitable chaperone about ten feet behind you. You can only talk about the weather and how beautiful the flowers are because you’d be in major trouble if you started talking about emotions or making plans with the guy.

So to tell you how he feels, your boy picks you a single red rose and makes a remark on its beauty. You thank him and keep walking while you think about how to respond. Then you see it – you grab him a pink rose from a nearby bush. He might be passionate about you, but you’ve told him in no uncertain terms that you’re just friends. Isn’t that so much easier than the notes and friendly phone calls we make today?


Carnations have different meanings based on different colors as well. Pink carnations show gratitude, red carnations are flashy. Striped carnations are a sign of refusal (perfect for the boy situation above), and white are remembrance. White carnations are one of the most popular funeral flowers to this day. Finally, yellow carnations are cheerful.


Another fun flower, especially this time of year, the tulip has a few sorted meanings of its own. Pink tulips are to show caring. Purple tulips are a sign of royalty. Red tulips are a declaring of love (move over roses!). White tulips are a show of forgiveness, and yellow tulips are a sign of being hopelessly in love. (Awwwww….)

Other Flower Messages

Almost every flower of the day had some message attached to it, but here are some of my other personal favorites.
• A yellow chrysanthemum means you have secret admirer.
• Black-eyed Susans are form of encouragement.
• Hibiscus and Orchids show delicate beauty.
• Holly is domestic comfort.
• Ivy is fidelity (another wedding favorite to this day.)
• Lavender is distrust.
• Lilac is first love.
• Orange blossoms are fertility (yet another wedding favorite of old.)
• Rhododendrons tell you to beware.

Flowers would be sent from one person to another sometimes with a note and sometimes without. The flowers would often tell a different story than the note or they might say everything that needs to be said clearly enough on their own. Girls of the day would also wear flowers pinned in their hair or to their dresses and these flowers as well told a tale at parties and social gatherings. I’d love to see the girl brave enough to wear a red carnation...

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Reseda, CA
Posted On: May 17, 2008
there r things as black roses??????????????????????????????????? well it wuz like AWESOME!
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United Kingdom
Posted On: April 5, 2008
liar liar

:icon8 :
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Posted On: April 3, 2008
I love purple roses. They are only found in my state, as far as I know!
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Posted On: April 2, 2008
you should have put something about calla liles. they're my favourite. anyway awesome article!
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Arvada, CO
Posted On: April 2, 2008
I love these!!!!! I'm taking a flower arrangement class, and these are very important to remember.

Black roses? They are altered to be that way by dying the seeds. They don't have a victorian meaning, but my guess would be sorrow or pain.
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Posted On: April 1, 2008
awesome article
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Brookhaven, PA
Posted On: April 1, 2008
r there even black roses ?????
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Posted On: March 30, 2008

Awesome article!


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Grand Haven, MI
Posted On: March 30, 2008
first comment

I love flowers
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Posted On: March 30, 2008
Whoa.. I didn't know any of that. (Except for the roses of course) That's really cool. I like plants, so this is one of my favorite articals. ^__^
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United Kingdom
Posted On: March 30, 2008
I Never Knew Flowers Had Secret Meaning, Very Interesting, I Did Know That Victorians Could Communicate With A Boquet And Rose Represented Love But Nothing Else! Very Good


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Granada Hills, CA
Posted On: March 29, 2008
there are whole websites dedicated to this kind of stuff. i think it's so cool the way victorian couples could communicate just with a single bouquet! victorian writers often alluded to this flower language in their romance novels.
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Colorado Springs, CO
Posted On: March 29, 2008
I love flowers. I didn't know roses weren't the only ones with meanings either! But the problem is if you get a boquet from that special someone and they have rhododendrons or something in it. And they didn't know what those meant, but you lol

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