Single flowers and bouquets make an excellent gift for most occasions, from births to funerals. Whether you choose a solitary long-stemmed red rose or a bouquet of wildflowers, you’re sending a message that words can’t easily convey. So, it’s up to you to choose how proper or personal that message is. And one way to do this is by choosing the right flower for the right occasion. Today we’ll discuss the meaning of flowers and when it’s appropriate to give them.
What Are Occasion Flowers?
Occasion flowers are specific types of flowers that are given on various holidays. For example, roses are popular for Valentine’s Day, peonies are common for weddings, and lilies are often found at funerals.
So, it’s easy to see why you may be unsure of what flower or color is appropriate for every occasion. After all, nearly every flower is attached to a historical sentiment that sends a message to the recipient or your guests at an event such as a gala or wedding.
For instance, tansy, which is a member of the daisy family, features happy, button-like heads, but some people suggest that you’re sending the recipient “hostile thoughts.” In contrast, other people take them to mean “health and immortality.” Similarly, pink carnations can mean “gratitude,” while striped ones show “refusal,” and yellow ones represent rejection.
Flower meanings are derived from various reputable sources, from the Bible to writings from Shakespeare. The symbology of flowers has evolved over the years and is still evolving. But, learning the language of flowers will make you feel more confident in your next flower selection.
Flowers And What They Represent
Now that you know there is a meaning behind flowers, it’s vital that you choose the appropriate type and color for the special person in your life. Let’s look at the most popular flowers by occasion and what they represent:
Funeral and Sympathy Flowers
Floral arrangements can be sent to the deceased family for use in the presentation at the service or funeral or in their homes. If a family accepts flowers at the funeral, you’ll need to choose something appropriate that can be used during the service, taken to the family’s home, and later placed on the grave.
Flower arrangements for funerals are presented in various ways, such as a standing spray or a basket, or they may be shaped like a wreath, heart, or cross. Here are flowers commonly found in sympathy arrangements and what they mean:
- Pink carnation – Remembrance
- Lily – Restored innocence to the departed soul
- White rose – Reverence
- Red carnation – Admiration
- Gladioli – Sincerity, strength of character, and moral integrity
- Orchids – Eternal love and sympathy
- Chrysanthemums – Honor for a full life
- Crimson roses – Sorrow and grief
Regardless of the specific type of wedding, most couples include flower bouquets and arrangements as a crucial element to consider during the planning phase. Wedding flower trends do change from one year to another in terms of styles and colors, and they typically match the current trends for home decor and fashion.
Many couples also choose their flowers based on the season in which they’re getting married. Yet regardless, peonies (represent prosperity, good fortune, and a happy marriage) and red roses (representing passionate love) are always excellent options for wedding arrangements.
However, if you’d like to customize the flowers and what they represent for your wedding day, here are some of the best wedding flowers:
- Calla Lillies – Elegant and regal
- Hydrangea – Heartfelt emotion and perseverance
- Amaryllis – Determination and love
- Gardenia – Joy
A beautiful flower arrangement makes an excellent birthday gift. The best birthday flowers are chosen based on the relationship and the recipient’s favorite blossoms. For example, in a bouquet for a good friend you could choose yellow roses. Here are some other options:
- Forget-me-nots – Keep me forever in your memory
- Pink carnation – Gratitude
- Geraniums – True friendship and comfort
- Red chrysanthemums – “I love you” and sharing
- Jasmine – Elegance, and grace
Mother’s Day is one of the easier occasions to choose the right type of flower – simply pick her favorite! Traditional Mother’s day arrangements are commonly made using lilies, roses, and orchids. If your mother likes other blossoms or you want to give her something more custom, here are some other blooms with special meaning:
- White or blue-lavender rose – Respect
- Red, deep red, or yellow rose – Love and beauty
- Peach or light pink-colored rose – Honor
- Lilac – Love between a mother and her child
- Orchid – Beauty, and refinement
- Carnation – Eternal love of a mother
Valentine’s Day Flowers
Traditionally, lovers give flowers that speak their love language on Valentine’s Day. Rose, in all of its gorgeous shades, is still the most famous Valentine’s Day flower. Let’s take a look at the meaning of rose colors:
- Yellow rose – Friendship
- Red rose – Passion
- Pink rose – Admiration
- Coral rose – Desire
- White rose – Chaste love
- Primroses – New beginnings or new love
Christmas and Other Winter Holiday Flowers
A floral arrangement or plants makes a beautiful hostess gift for holiday parties. Poinsettias are a popular plant, and they’re available in multiple colors, including green, red, yellow, and white. Another favored holiday bloom is the amaryllis which symbolizes love and determination, but when you want to think outside the box, here are some choices:
- Narcissus – Renewal or rebirth
- Holly – Everlasting life
- Christmas rose – A gift for Christ
- Winter jasmine – Modesty, purity, or a gift from God
Special Occasion Flowers
Flowers are a splendid way to celebrate other special occasions such as graduation, job promotion, wedding anniversary, and prom corsage. While almost any kind of flower is appropriate, you can make the occasion even more special by using symbolic flowers. Here are some varieties to consider:
- Dahlia – Excitement and change
- Camellia – Finesse, and excellence
- Orchid – Charm, love, strength, beauty, and luxury
- Daffodil – Forgiveness and truth
- Iris – A flower traditionally given for a 25th wedding anniversary, it symbolizes wisdom, bravery, and faith
- Daisy – Playfulness and innocence
All Occasion Flowers
With that being said, what if you’re looking for all occasion flowers that you can send to anyone at any time? Well, you’re in luck, and there are many attractive options from which to choose. Here is a look at some of our favorite all occasion flowers:
- Anthurium – A tropical flower that’s both popular and long-lasting. It symbolizes luxury and hospitality.
- Aster – Patience
- Bird of Paradise – Joy, native to South Africa
- Carnation – This flower embodies beauty and pride
- Heather – Admiration
- Lily – Purity, virtue, innocence, dignity, and wealth
- Rose – Friendship, love, purity, and passion
- Sweet Pea – Thank you, departure, blissful pleasure
- Tulip – Perfect love, fame
In the end, there are so many flowers that it can be impossible to learn what each of them represents. However, when you’re looking to send a flower bouquet or arrangement to someone, be sure to research the types of flowers and colors to choose for the occasion. This will ensure you send the right message to your recipient and avoid embarrassment!
Original infographic via flowers.daflores.com in 2012, content updated December 2021.