Floral Symbolism

February 26, 2009 at 7:39 AM (Floral Design)

Floral Symbolism

Floral symbolism has roots in mythology and flower color. Certain colors maintain a general meaning from flower to flower. Yellow often represents cheerfulness. White represents purity or forgiveness, Red symbolizes love, and Purple represents royalty.


To the indigenous natives of Mexico, Carnations are the flower of the dead. However in Korea, to divine the future, three carnations are placed on a person’s head and the first flower to wilt indicates what area of that person’s life will suffer.

White: Pure love and Good luck

Light red: admiration

Dark Red: deep love and affection

Purple: Capriciousness

Pink: Undying mothers love, said to have come from the Virgin Mary’s tears


The lily has been adopted as a symbol of the Virgin Mary and represents purity or chastity. In paintings, Gabriel is often depicted to present a Lily to Mary. They also symbolize the restoration of innocence to the soul after death and are used in funerals.

Peruvian Lilies – Friendship and Devotion

White Stargazer – Sympathy

Pink Stargazer – wealth and prosperity

Lilies of the Valley – humility and devotion


The poppy has many associations. The Greeks associated the poppy with Hypnos, the god of sleep and Morpheus, the god of dreams. They used the poppy seed to ease pain and bring about sleep. In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy fell asleep in a field of poppies. The poppy is also used to make the drug opium and it is still cultivated for this purpose. This drug also brought about war between England and China. Today the poppy is also used in baked goods; it is also the flower of California.


The Japanese believe that, with its balanced petals, the Chrysanthemum represents perfection. Confucius suggested that, because its symbolism of perfection, the Chrysanthemum should be an object of meditation. A petal placed in the bottom of a wine glass symbolizes a long and healthy life.


The sharp leaves of the Gladiolus are the source of the name. In Latin, Gladius means sword. This name meaning lends itself to the symbolism of the flower. To some the flower represents infatuation, a lover struck through the heart with passion. It also symbolizes strength and integrity.


The Hydrangea is a Japanese flower, with a name that roughly means ‘water barrel’, this is descriptive of the vast amount of water consumed by this flower. The Hydrangea also has multiple meanings. One is of boastfulness and vanity, stemming from its modern and delicate form. The hydrangea can also symbolism the appreciation of understanding from the presenter to the receiver.


In Greek Mythology, Syringia, the botanical name of Lilac, was chased by Pan, the god of the Forest. Terrified of Pan, Syringia transformed herself into the Aromatic Lilac to escape him. In current times, the purple Lilac symbolizes the first emotions of love. White lilac symbolizes youthful innocence.


The Poinsettia has roots in a Mexican myth. At Christmas, a young boy was only able to present weeds as a present to the alter. The congregation later witnessed the weeds transform into the Poinsettia plant. The Poinsettia now symbolizes cheer and celebration and is most popular as a Christmas flower.


The sunflower was worshipped by the Incans and worn as a medallion by Incan Priestesses’ and Native Americans would place Sunflowers on graves. The flower was also commonly used in art.


Tulips originate from Turkey. According to the Turkish legend, the Turkish prince fell in love with a maid. Upon finding out the maid had been killed, the prince killed himself by riding his horse off a cliff. Tulips sprouted from his blood and became a symbol of perfect love. The dark center of the tulip represents a lovers heart darkened by passion and the color of the petals have various meanings. Yellow is cheerfulness, White is forgiveness, and purple is royalty.

(n.d.). Retrieved 2 25, 2009, from The Poppy: http://www.poppies.ws/poppies/the-poppy.html

Encyclopedia of Myths. (n.d.). Retrieved 2 25, 2009, from Flowers ins Mythology: http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Fi-Go/Flowers-in-Mythology.html

Joy. (n.d.). Joy’s Florist. Retrieved 2 25, 2009, from Flower Meaning and Symbols: http://www.joysflorist.com/flowersmeaning.html


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