Red Roses and White Roses: The Symbolic Language of Flower Colors

Red Roses and White Roses: The Symbolic Language of Flower Colors

The language of flowers was created by two women from Europe during the early 17th century. There is a belief that Victorians were the ones who created the style, but it’s not the case. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Aubry de la Mottraye both went on trips through the Ottoman Empire and brought back their expertise in a written language that was based on flowers.


The art of floral inscription (or flower or flower) was a popular Victorian time craze, which consisted of communicating messages using flowers. Even though it was fading during the latter half of the nineteenth century, the floral meaning is relevant today. As an example, the contemporary artist Whitney Lynn created a project in support of San Diego International Airport using flowers that have specific meanings.

The trend of floriography was first noticed in Ottoman Turkey, and was introduced to Europe by Lady Mary Wortley Montague and Seigneur hoa chia buon Aubry de Mottraye. Numerous floriography dictionaries followed the popularity of these dictionaries. The books contained botanical data as well as novelty items such as calendars and lists with flower symbolisms. These meanings came from legends as well as mythology and folklore (the association of the daffodil with egotism is an example) however, some were taken directly from flowers. They also included dictionaries on flowers. these authors often cited an Eastern custom known as Selam.

Victorian Era

The time of Victorian society, the use of floralography or floral language was utilized as a method of subliminal communicating. The cryptic system of botanical symbols could be used to communicate love, disdain or desire. It allowed Victorians, who were governed by strict rules of social behavior and customs, to communicate their emotions to be acceptable.

In the 19th century, books regarding the meanings of flower and words were written. The specifics in this flower language may differ based upon the kind of flower that was employed, how it was given or the person who gave the flower. The nuanced expression of emotion allowed for much room for imagination and interpretation. There are more than 1,400 different flowers, herbaceous plants and plant species are listed in the vocabulary of flowers. Though the meanings of the words differed from culture some of the ideas were very similar.

Symbolism Evolution

Since the earliest of times flowers have been utilized to communicate deep feelings of love, respect, and emotions. Meanings that have been used for centuries change when plants are grown and culture changes.

The flower language gained popularity during the 19th century England and North America. Authors wrote ingenuous guides and dictionaries that associated the symbolic significance of a particular flower and the meaning of that floral symbol. The dictionaries are often beautifully illustrated and attached to sentimental dedications.

A lot of the symbols derived from religion, mythology and folklore. Narcissus’ story about being in love with him at a pool has prompted the association between daffodils and the concept of egotism. Many were inspired by the appearance of the plants or by their characteristics. Mimosa, for instance, were believed to bring feelings of purity, as they do not open at night as well as being touch sensitive.

Cultural Influences

The Victorian Era saw the emergence of flower language as a method of discrete communications. The flower language was perfect to be used in a period where direct expressions of emotions were frowned upon, and where etiquette played a major role in social interaction.

Women’s magazines such as Godey’s Ladies’ Book featured it frequently. It also became a well-known parlor game, where the players would be blindfolded as they picked their favorite flower from a vase in order to decide their fate, whether it was love or fortune.

There were a variety of flower dictionary that assigned every flower their particular meaning. Lexicon definitions can be varied; for example, hyacinth flowers were thought to symbolize beauty, but also devotion, humility, and even forgiveness. The interpretations of these flowers are derived from a diverse selection of sources such as Shakespearean connections and classic literature.


Flower symbolism remains popular to this day. It’s used by artists, editors, designers as well as florists, marketers, poets, and writers. Florography is used frequently to describe it.

In the Victorian century, floriography was at its height. Hundreds of flower, herb and plant-related books were published. Some of these included an alphabetical list of herbs, flowers as well as plants, along with their symbols. Other were based on legends and folklore. The association of daffodils with egotism, for instance was derived from the legend of Narcissus and his fascination in his reflection.

Flowers convey a vast variety of messages and sentiments. They also vary by color because each color evokes specific emotions and meanings. The red color of a passionate rose symbolizes feelings of love and passion, whereas the delicate white flower symbolizes innocence and pureness.