Sending a friend or loved one flowers is always such a nice gesture – it’s very seldom that someone opens the door to find a delivery man with a bunch of blooms and don’t break out in a spontaneous smile. But did you know that the flowers you send actually have a hidden meaning?

No kidding – back in the Victorian era most popular flowers had very clear-cut associated meanings that were used to send unspoken messages to the intended recipient. These days very few people are versed in the archaic language of flowers, but a there are a handful of die-hard romantics who still stick to their floral guns.

Kate Middleton, for example, requested a bridal bouquet chockful of floral sentiments, which included Sweet William (denoting gallantry), Lily-of-the-valley (denoting the return of happiness) and myrtle (the emblem of marriage and love). Interesting fact – the myrtle used in Kate’s bouquet was taken from a plant that was grown from a sprig that was included in a posy given to the late Queen Victoria by Prince Albert’s grandmother. How lovely?!

Here are a few of the meanings of flowers that are often used in South African floral arrangements:


Roses are a classic choice and included in floral arrangements for all sorts of occasions. Here are the Victorian meanings of some of the most popular colours:

Red: Normally conveys deep and undying love, longing or desire; but can also be used to denote heartfelt respect, devotion or admiration.

White: Indicative of spirituality and associated with purity, chastity and innocence; favoured for bridal bouquets due to its association with new beginnings.

Yellow: Denotes exuberance, friendship, caring, joy and warmth. Pro tip – if you want to send a message of amorous love, yellow roses are not the best idea; it’s always been associated with platonic emotions.

Pink: Associated with sweet, innocent emotions like joy, gratitude and childlike admiration.


Lilies symbolise purity and refined beauty. Based on the colour or type, the lily flower can convey different meanings, e.g. white denotes modesty and virginity, orange epitomises passion, yellow point to gaiety, lily-of-the-valley conveys purity of heart and the Easter lily is the universal symbol of the Virgin Mary.


Carnations in general are associated with woman’s love and, as such, used to be a traditional gift between mothers and daughters and female friends. Pink carnations denote mothers’ love, dark red carnations are associated with deep female affection and white carnations point to pure love and good luck, while yellow carnations used to mean disappointment or dejection (oops!).

And there you have it – the Victorian meanings of some of some of South Africa’s most popular blooms. Keep an eye on the Classic Flowers blog for more trends, tips and awesome news in coming months!

Popular flowers & their Victorian meanings
Tagged on:                         

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *