What do your floral arrangements reveal about you?


We’ve all heard of the language of love, but the language of flowers? Yes! It’s a thing. Decipher what your floral arrangements are saying about you…

Pink flowers mean yes. White lily? My love is pure. Poppy? I’m not free. Did you know your floral arrangements could be spilling your deepest and darkest to all and sundry? More than just some pretty colour and sculptural shapes in a vase, your floral arrangements have meaning.

Whilst you’re busy being the hostess with the mostest, your flowers could be secretly whispering sweet nothings or revealing your heartbreak. Forget trying to mask your body language, cast the napkins over your floral centrepieces stat! 😉

Floriography or the language of flowers is like the Snapchat of yesteryear. In the prim and proper Victorian times, discretion and etiquette were paramount. Overt displays of attraction were frowned upon. So how did you show your interest?

With flowers!

theartoftheroomdotcom thedecorologistdotcom
Images sourced L to R: theartoftheroom.com and thedecorologist.com. Browse vases online at Zanui

Doing it Downton Abbey-Style

In Victorian England, a gift of flowers delivered more than blowsy blooms – it laid bare unspoken emotions and hidden intentions.

Hand-given bunches

Nosegays or tussie-mussies(!), small hand-held posies, were all the rage. Violets signalled virtue and faithfulness; peonies, bashfulness.
 Presenting a lady with peonies in an upright position signified her suitor’s appreciation of her coy nature…

Lavender, on the other hand, was associated with devotion and distrust – a passionate combination! A suitor unsure of his lady’s loyalty might present her with an aromatic lavender arrangement – just to let her know he knew the score.

A posy presented facing downwards was never a welcome sight. It meant you’d been dumped!

Amalfi Izola Vase, Aqua (Set of 2) Marquis by Waterford Bezel Vase NF Living Chloe Vessel (Set of 2) Soundslike HOME Maysa Marble Jar Vase, Green:Grey (Set of 2)
L to R: Amalfi Izola Vase, Aqua (Set of 2), Marquis by Waterford Bezel Vase, NF Living Chloe Vessel (Set of 2) and Soundslike HOME Maysa Marble Jar Vase, Green/Grey (Set of 2). Browse vases online at Zanui

Sending flowers was an easy way to sidestep the austere morals of the era. It’s no wonder nosegays or “talking bouquets” were so on-trend at the time.

strictlyweddingsdotcom florettedotgallerydotru
A beautiful pearl + blossom combination displayed on a tiered cake stand. And the symbolic meanings (in French!) of begonias (cordiality), forget-me-nots (faithfulness), clematis (desire) rhododendrons (elegance), lilies (purity) + peonies (sincerity). Images sourced L to R: strictlyweddings.com and florettedotgallery.ru.

Floral arrangements

The type of floral arrangements one might have displayed in the drawing room whilst one received one’s gentlemen callers were also steeped in covert codes. Priming your sitting room bouquets was essentially like passing notes in class, only classier.

Image sourced: myemail.constantcontact.com. Browse vases online at Zanui

So how do they decipher each flower’s meaning?

Turns out the flowers give up the answers themselves. They reveal their meanings in their behaviours – or their body language if you will. For example, the mimosa symbolises chastity. Why? Its leaves close at night, or when it’s touched!

But, there’s a fair bit of leeway for interpreting the meanings. They can be as wide-ranging horoscope readings. 😉

Image sourced: grayanddavis.com. Browse vases online at Zanui

But what do your floral arrangements mean?

See the pic above for some super-cute translations. Plus we’ve collated some more for you in the list below. They range from the sublime to the ridiculous. 😀

Red rose – passionate and romantic love

Bluebell – respect and unwavering devotion

Baby’s breath – innocence or childish behaviour! (You’ve been told.)

Yellow rose – contentment

Narcissus – unrequited love

Orange blossom – eternal love

Jasmine – faithfulness

White rose – purity, virtue and chastity

Gardenia – secret love

Black rose – death and dark magic 😀

Geranium – true friendship… ahhh!

Snowdrop – consolation and hope

Oriental lily/tulip – a declaration of love

Daffodil – new beginnings

A Downton Abbey inspired centrepiece with old leatherbound books, a spectacular urn and showy flowers for sheer elegant style. Browse vases online at Zanui. Image sourced: beauxandbelles.net.

Quite the feisty affair, really – this floriography gig. And it’s still alive today. In 2009, one Vanessa Diffenbaugh (great name for one drawn to botany – baugh = bough, no?) published a New York Times best-selling novel based on the art alongside a personalised flower dictionary.

(Maybe worth a look-see?)

Have You Met Miss Jones Capsule Ponte Glaze Vase LS Collections Concrete White Wash Vase Waterford Rebel Vase, 20cm iittala Alvar Aalto Vase, Emerald, 12cm
L to R: Have You Met Miss Jones Capsule Ponte Glaze Vase, LS Collections Concrete White Wash Vase, Waterford Rebel Vase, 20cm, and iittala Alvar Aalto Vase, Emerald, 12cm. Browse vases online at Zanui

We adore the idea of a little vintage floral whimsy to our entertaining. Downton Abbey – filled with romance and nostalgia, etiquette and sordid love affairs. Smashing.

But what do you think? Will it change the way you choose your flowers? Is it just us? It’s a little chuckle-worthy, don’t you think?

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.