The Coded Language of Flowers: Using The Secretive Art of Floriography

Why should you send flowers?

For any reason — sad, happy, or celebratory. Flowers simply make people feel better. But did you know that your gift of flowers can have a secret coded message for the trained eye? Floriography, or the language of flowers, is a cryptic art that has been used in society throughout history. In the 1630s, the famously beautiful tulips of Holland caused “Tulip Mania” to spread across Western Europe, where there was a high demand for the elegant bulbs. Although tulips themselves are short-lived flowers, they symbolize life, love, and immortality.

Man kissing and presenting roses to his sweetheart

Communication through floral arrangements gained popularity in the Victorian Era, when the Queen took a liking to the practice. “Speaking” through small flower bouquets or large arrangements allowed people to convey complex feelings (positive AND negative) that would otherwise be impolite to say aloud in such a conservative time.

Some typical pieces of Floriography are general knowledge today, such as red roses being associated with romantic love. Many Floriography dictionaries exist today to explain the collected meanings of various flowers, both in print and online. A single flower can have many meanings depending on the source and culture in question, but for the most part, the common meaning of particular flowers have stayed constant through the ages.

While we’re free to speak our minds in the modern day as opposed to our Victorian ancestors, the language of flowers is alive and well due to its fun and charm. Here are a few simple examples of Floriography to use in your daily life.

“I Hope We Become Friends”

How do you say, “I hope we become friends,” in flower? Give daisies for hope and innocence, periwinkle for new friends, and acacia for friendship in general.

“I Have A Crush On You”

Yes, roses are romantic, but they can also be too romantic for a new crush. Instead, opt for white camellias for adoration and gardenias for loveliness or secret love.

“Farewell When Moving Away”

Forget-me-nots for, well, ‘forgetting-me-not’, of course, and goldenrod for encouragement.

“I’m Sorry For Your Loss or Misfortune”

Pink carnations for heartbreak and remembrance and red poppies for consolation.

“I Appreciate You”

Daffodils for regard and lavender for devotion and virtue.

Young shild presenting flowers to her Mother

Last but not least…

“I’d Like To Politely Convey Hostility”

Why send flowers only when you have something kind to say when you can secretly emulate the interesting passive-aggressive attitude of the Victorians? Maybe you’ll find some satisfaction in a subtle, flowery insult. There’s no shortage of negative flowers to look up, but tansies for hostility and petunias for resentment or anger are a simple combo. If you are feeling especially prickly, send a cactus.

Group for potted cactus plants

There’s always a reason to send flowers. Play around with this age-old coded language and get your family and friends in on it, whether for special occasions or just for fun.

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