Flowers That Say Friendship

Traditionally, the sending of flowers conveyed a specific meaning between people without a need for a written note. The flower type, color or composition of the bouquet relayed a certain emotion, answer or ideal. In modern times, traditional flowers associated with friendship are often overlooked, but add a list of their significance and these cheerful, inexpensive flowers become a meaningful gift.

Traditional Friendship Symbols

Zinnias are meant to evoke the thought of a friend, with specific colors assigned to different situations: a yellow zinnia means daily remembrance, a scarlet one is for constancy, a white zinnia the friend's goodness. A mixed bouquet of zinnias means someone is thinking of you in your absence. Chrysanthemums relay a message of friendship, too, regardless of their color, size or flower shape. A long sprig of evergreen ivy relays a message that your friendship is forever. The trailing stems and foliage of ivy geranium and sprays of arborvitae, an evergreen conifer, also signify friendship.

The Rose

Roses are often seen as the ultimate floral gift. Traditionally, yellow roses signify friendship, as compared to any other positive emotion. The color of the rose is one of the few floral meanings that seems to be widely understood. You may also know that red roses signify love and white, innocence, but there are other shades with meanings as well. For instance modern rose varieties include many pale-colored types, from lavender-silver to pale peach or ghostly pink. Any pale rose should also be interpreted to convey "friendship."

Modern Floral Messages

With few people well-versed in the Victorian meaning of all flowers, the modern gift-giver usually equates simple, elegant or inexpensive flowers an expression of friendship, or thoughtfulness. Since a true friendship endures all adversity and has no price, the mere gift of simple flowers conveys the bond of friendship. In the United States, some generally regard carnations, violets, and daisies as a cheerful expression of regard between friends. Mixed bouquets are also more socially geared towards friends and companionship as compared to more expensive, rarer flowers that have specific meanings. Presentation of roses, orchids, or lilies tend to harbor thoughts of romance, commitment or sorrow. However, modern Americans do not hold steadfast meanings to flowers, and often see gift flowers as a social courtesy.

Keywords: floral gifts, meaning of flowers, Victorian meanings

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for The Public Garden, Docent Educator, numerous non-profit newsletters and for's comprehensive plant database. He holds a Master's degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne's Burnley College.