field of flowers

10 Popular Flowers and Their Meanings in the Victorian Language of Flowers

Decode the Language of Flowers

During the Victorian era, sending secret messages through coded signals was all the rage. From the way you held your fan to the placement of your stamp on a postcard, hidden meanings were everywhere. However, one of the most fascinating and enduring forms of secret communication was "Floriography," or the language of flowers. By assigning symbolic meanings to various flowers, the Victorians were able to convey messages of love, loyalty, and even disdain. Today, the language of flowers remains a beloved tradition, steeped in history and meaning.
language of flowers victorian book page
Different varieties or colors of flowers could have different meanings depending on how they are arranged or combined. While these were most commonly used to send gifts of love and gratitude, if you wanted to get a little passive-aggressive you could send someone a bouquet of pink peonies to express your anger or a yellow carnation to reject a suitor's advances.
Nowadays most people aren't sending messages with flowers, but if you have a friend who likes inside jokes or you want to craft something truly symbolic for a wedding bouquet or to impress a date, learning some flower language before your next trip to a florist might give you an upper hand.

Here are ten flowers and their meanings:


Lavender is a soothing fragrance, making it popular for relaxation and sleep therapies, but don't sleep on this flower! It symbolizes devotion and loyalty, making it an excellent choice for weddings. Note: some sources are inconsistent for lavender. While the most popular meaning is the positive one, lavender can also sometimes represent "distrust" which seems the exact opposite of devotion and loyalty. Perhaps a good choice if you want to keep someone on their toes?


This remains a favorite Valentine's Day posey, in spite of its thorns. The meaning of roses depends on their color. Red roses are typically symbols of love but yellow roses can actually convey the opposite, representing jealousy or even infidelity. Throw in some white roses for innocence and new beginnings and it's like a whole story in a bouquet.


These cute as a button flowers represent innocence and childhood ... but they can also have the sneaky meaning of "I'll never tell," perfect for those who want to share secrets.


Gladiolus stand tall, with multiple blooms on a towering stalk. They are the flowers of Gladiators and symbolize integrity, strength, and victory. Do you want to tell someone struggling that they're your hero for their fight? Send them gladiolus.
girl running through a field of daisies


Missing someone? Send them Zinnias. These vibrant flowers represent thoughts of absent friends, making it a perfect way to tell someone you're thinking of them.

But enough of this mushy stuff. Let's get down to what you really want to know: how to really insult someone with flowers.


This innocuous little yellow blossom carries a punch with its meaning of "hostile thoughts" and can be seen as a declaration of war. If you have a frenemy you want to send a message to, a bouquet of tansies is a good start.
butterfly on yellow tansy plant


Begonias mean BEWARE! Give a warning in a vase with these beauties.


Another flower where the color choice is everything, a red carnation symbolizes deep love where as a striped carnation is seen as a "refusal." If you want to double down on the rejection, add in yellow carnations to express your disdain and disappointment in the individual.


Want to tell someone they really messed up? Give them a bouquet of geraniums to represent their folly and stupidity. If they don't get it, it just proves your point, doesn't it?
pink geraniums


While a white lily can represent purity and a yellow one happiness, the real power play is in sending someone an orange one to represent your pure hatred.
Whether you're thinking of sending someone your well wishes or some snark, these flowers will let you do so with flare. 
Want something that lasts a little longer than a flower? Check out our High Cottage candle collection, perfect to draw you into a country garden full of flowers and herbs. Discover High Cottage.


  • Janice Dietert

    I love the language of flowers blog. My favorite literary period when getting my BA in Literature and Language wax the 19th century and girls who wanted to be seen in a good light learned it all. I used to have a wee book of in depth flower language that got lost in one of several moves, so this article brings back a ton of memories.

  • Stacey

    This was a fun blog post!

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