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Flowers That Mean Friendship

By Ellen Douglas ; Updated September 21, 2017

Floriography, the fine art of using flowers to symbolize any number of emotions, reached its zenith in the Victorian era. Most of us can never hope to recreate the nuanced coding systems young ladies of that era achieved. But men and women alike can still use the language of floriography to profess friendship by sending symbolic flowers, either alone or in arrangements.

Tussie Mussie Flowers

Miniature bouquets, or nosegays, of flowers and herbs became known as vessels of intricate symbolic meaning in Medieval France. By the Victorian era, “tussie mussie” mania reached a fever pitch in Europe and America. Several messages of friendship, including sympathy, nostalgia, gratitude and encouragement were interwoven into the intricate nosegays, tied in a ribbon, and given to a loved one. Today, tussie mussies still provide a charming way to express loyalty, devotion and affection. Classic tussie mussie friendship blossoms include bee balm and lemon balm for sympathy, borage for courage, dianthus and lavender for loyal friendship, nutmeg geranium for an anticipated reunion, heartsease for happy thoughts, heliotrope for devotion, lady’s mantle for comfort, yellow roses for loving friendship and yarrow for wishes of good health.

Single Flower Bouquets

To keep your message of friendship simple, give your friend either a single blossom or unmixed bouquet bearing of any of these additional flowers of friendship: acacia flowers, white chrysanthemums, pear blossoms, red geraniums, yellow honeysuckle, yellow roses, irises, periwinkle, snowdrops, acacia blossoms and arborvitae blossoms.

Potpourri Flowers

The long-lasting nature of potpourri allows you to send a permanent profession of your loving friendship. Along with using preserved versions of the flowers mentioned above, consider giving a beautiful bowl or tin filled with symbolic dried flowers to console a friend on the loss of a loved one. Calendula petals express shared grief, while as their names suggest, the “balms” (balm of Gilead buds, lemon balm leaves or flowers and bee balm petals) express comfort and sympathy.

For an unusual dried flower combination to send to a lifelong friend, blend lilacs and periwinkles to symbolize the earliest stages of your friendship; daisies, for loyalty and innocence and zinnias, which express nostalgia. Add rosemary blossoms or sprigs, a universal sign of remembrance. Using any of these dried flowers in handmade stationary, cards or bookmarks also makes a moving testament to your friendship.

Floral Gifts and Memorials

Many of the flowers mentioned above can also be incorporated into unique gifts. Instead of fresh flowers or potpourri, give your friend garden seeds or potted plants as an ongoing testament to your affection. To help memorialize a departed friend, plant a garden showcasing your loved one’s favorite plants as well as the classic friendship flowers. Flowering trees or bushes whose blooms symbolize friendship--including lilacs, roses, pears, acacia and arborvitae--make special living memorials in your own garden. You can also donate these plants to a library, park or public garden in your friend’s name.


About the Author


Ellen Douglas has written on food, gardening, education and the arts since 1992. Douglas has worked as a staff reporter for the Lakeville Journal newspaper group. Previously, she served as a communication specialist in the nonprofit field. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Connecticut.