A bouquet of flowers usually has a special meaning when given to a loved one: I love you, or Happy Valentine’s Day, or I’m so sorry I ran over the cat in the driveway.
But when those flowers are plucked from their bouquets, each bloom standing on its own can have a range of different meanings – and most likely not the one originally intended.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists 71 plants with meanings, ranging from healing, protection and affection to hidden worth.
So if you’re sending a bouquet to a best friend, for example, you might include some sprigs of the evergreen arborvitae (for unchanging friendship), some geranium blooms (for true friendship) and some ivy leaves (for friendship and continuity). A bouquet to someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one might include some red poppies (for consolation) and zinnias (for thoughts of absent friends).
It’s not all sweet thoughts though. If you’re feeling nasty toward your neighbor because she lets her dog out at 5:30 every Saturday morning, you might send her some tansies (for hostile thoughts). If you’re brokenhearted after yet another blind date stands you up, you might buy yourself some carnations (which has multiple meanings, including “alas my poor heart”).
With Valentine’s Day coming up, knowing what you’re saying, or not saying, could mean a lot.
Vicki Nathalang, owner of Armstrong Flowers in Fort Wayne, says her most popular Valentine’s Day flowers are roses, lilies and gerbera daisies.
We’ve offered up some flower suggestions and their meanings, courtesy of Nathalang, to help if you plan on putting together your own bouquet – or even if you pick one of those pre-made arrangements at a grocery store at 6 p.m. Feb. 14.
Roses in general can mean “love,” Nathalang says, but red roses also refer to beauty.
Lilies, no matter the type, are considered a majestic or royal flower, Nathalang says. “They’re just a popular flower now with young people. There are just so many more hybrids, and there are so many more available than there used to be.”
Gerbera daisies mean cheerfulness, happiness and innocence, and that doesn’t change with their color. The most popular colored daisies at Armstrong are orange and hot pink, Nathalang says.
Carnation meanings change with color. A pink one means “I will never forget you,” where a red carnation is about pulling on one’s heart strings and white carnations have a more innocent meaning, about being sweet and lovely.
A yellow rose indicates a friendship. A white rose means “close to your heart,” but not in a romantic way, Nathalang says. It’s more a happy love or the love one would have for his or her parents.