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Unusual Flower Meanings for Valentine's Day

Posted Jan 26 2010 8:14pm

There are many beautiful and traditional bouquet flowers that make lovely gifts on Valentine's Day. Red roses or tulips are symbols of love and passion, while pink ones symbolize friendship. Orchids are a compliment to a delicate beauty and forget-me-nots speak for themselves.

But not all Valentines are content with a simple, generic declaration of love. The time spent constructing a floral message tailored to a particular person may be even more appreciated than the flowers themselves. Don’t forget to include personal preferences when deciding, however, as it’s no use giving daisies to someone who doesn't like them, no matter what they symbolize.

If a bouquet is carefully put together with reference to the symbolism of each flower, a card should be included to explain the intended meanings. The best way to do this might be to explain why each symbol is appropriate, for example: “Jasmine for your grace and elegance when you dance.” This is particularly important as most flowers have several meanings, especially to different cultures.

Valentine Flowers for Friendship

Yellow flowers are generally associated with friendship and cheerfulness. However, yellow chrysanthemums can mean a secret admirer or slighted love, and so should be given out with care. Marigolds are also problematic as they can symbolize greed and selfishness.

Larkspur are a reference to laughter, or a light spirit. A magenta zinnia might mean lasting affection, and zinnias in general are for remembering absent friends.

Tiger lilies are symbols of prosperity and pride, and could represent a wish for success in life. Iris are the flowers for compliments, and can also specifically mean inspiration, or a meaningful friendship.

Valentine Flowers for Romantic Love

If in a young relationship, give lilac for the innocence of new love, or anemones to symbolize anticipation. Blue hyacinths show constancy or sincerity, whereas pink hyacinths are for playfulness. Gloxinias are for love at first sight, and daffodils are for chivalry, although a single daffodil can mean misfortune.

For seasoned Valentines, freesias for trust might be appropriate, or pansies for loving thoughts. Poppies can represent pleasure and imagination, and hibiscus is a compliment for a delicate beauty. A spider flower asks the receiver to elope.

While married folk can of course, use most of the same symbols new lovers can, they also have their own dedicated flowers. Ivy is a symbol of fidelity, affection and married love. Lily of the valley says “you’ve made my life complete.” Geraniums are for comfort and gardenias for joy. Orange blossom can be a wish for fertility and also for eternal love. Holly is the symbol for domestic happiness.

Flowers to Beware

There are many flowers with meanings that are best avoided on Valentine's Day. Of course, if they are especially favorites, or have personal meaning, don’t be put off by symbolism. Lavender can mean distrust, and oleander is a warning. Petunias are for anger and resentment, but can conversely tell a Valentine that they are soothing to such emotions.

Snapdragons are for deception, while sweet-peas are for saying goodbye. A striped carnation is a refusal, or a way of saying “I can’t be with you.” Even houseplants aren’t safe. A cactus is for endurance, while cyclamens represent resignation, and neither are perhaps the best symbols for Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is a time for saying things that might otherwise go unsaid, both to friends and lovers. A posy containing one or more flowers with a deeper meaning than their beauty or scent will be a gift worth more than the sum of its parts.

For more flower meanings, check out the Flower Society.

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