The Significance of Flowers


Many flowers have developed symbolism over centuries and millennia. Flowers as gifts often carry wishes and symbolism and these symbols often affect garden design and flower placement. Understanding flowers and their symbolism can add a layer of depth beyond simple visual aesthetics to your flower gardens and yard.


Flowers have long been associated with symbolism in various cultures. In ancient Greece, flowers symbolized the traits and attributes of various deities including Diana, Venus, Apollo and Jupiter. Garden flowers carried religious symbolism during medieval times and became important in expressing emotions, wishes, and thoughts during Victorian times. Modern flower symbolism draws on this long history and still uses many flower names as common names for girls and women.


Many annuals are symbolic of different wishes and emotions. Baby's breath is symbolic of happiness. Buttercups are often associated with happiness and childishness. Sweet pea flowers symbolize blissful pleasure. Marigolds are often associated with sacred affection, cruelty, grief and jealousy. Poppies have been long symbolized with fertility, eternal life and rest. In modern times, poppies became symbolic of those who died in World War I and other war dead.


Biennial flowers also carry traditional and modern symbolism. Pansies are associated with thoughtful recollection. Sweet Williams show gallantry, finesse and perfection, while Queen Anne's lace represents fantasy.


Many perennials are associated with many different forms of symbolism. Zinnias express thoughts of absent friends while pink zinnias symbolize lasting affection. Roses are probably the best known symbolic flower with symbolism ranging from orange for desire, red for love, desire, respect and courage, and white for charm, secrecy and silence. Other colors and types of rose can symbolize peace, admiration, unity and joy.

Flowering Trees

The flowers of many trees are symbolic of many different things. Plum blossoms are symbolic of beauty and longevity, especially in many Asian cultures. Pear blossoms symbolize hope and health, while cherry blossoms symbolize not taking anything for granted and savoring every moment of life. Apple blossoms are the symbol of perpetual concord.

Keywords: flower symbolism, flower history, symbolic flowers

About this Author

Christopher Earle is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colo. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, The Associated Press, the Boeing Company, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, Active Voice, RAHCO International and Umax Data Systems. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota.