The Victorian Language of Flowers

In Victorian England, and in other places that followed their customs, there was language in flowers. A specific flower had a particular meaning; for example, ivy meant fidelity (which is why it's a popular part of any bride's bouquet). Sometimes a specific colors of a specific flower had different meanings; for example, a red rose meant love and a yellow rose friendship.

Putting together a small, hand-held bouquet (called a "tussie mussie") not only delivered flowers and their sweet scent but also a hidden meaning.

Below I've collected some flowers and herbs and their meanings, I including some religious ones. This is by no means an exhaustive list!! There were books and books and books written in the Victorian era about flowers and their meaning! If there are any that you'd like included, please e-mail me.

Allium - unity, patience, humility, harmony
Amarylis - pride
Basil - best wishes
Bergamot - irresistible
Bluebell - constancy
Borage - courage
Broom - humility
Carnation - love
Clover - the Trinity
Columbine - Holy Spirit, folly
Cosmos - harmony, peace
Daisy - innocence, new-born, chaste
Dogwood - durability
Eglantine - healing
Fennel - flattery
Fern - sincerity
Forget-Me-Not - true love
French Marigold - jealousy
Gardenia - ecstasy
Gentian - loveliness
Geranium - you are childish, comfort
Heather - admiration
Hyacinth - sorrow
Ice Plant - your looks freeze me
Ivy - fidelity
Jasmine - grace, elegance, modesty
Kiss-Me-at-the-Garden-Gate - kindness
Lavender - luck, devotion
Lemon Balm - sympathy
Lilac - first love
Lily - purity, birth, hope, sweet
Lily of the Valley - purity, humility, return to happiness
Marigold - health
Marjoram - kindness, courtesy
Mint - virtue
Myrtle - fidelity
Nasturtium - patriotism
Narcissus - divine love
Orange - purity
Oregano - joy
Pansy - loving thoughts
Periwinkle - happy memory
Phlox - agreement
Pimpernel - change
Pinks - divine love, betrothal, love
Poppy - pleasure
Quince - entice
Rose (red) - love
Rose (pink) - grace, beauty, love, simplicity, happiness
Rose (yellow) - friendship
Rosemary - remembrance, constancy
Rue - contrition
Sage - gratitude
Stock - beauty
Strawberry - righteousness
Sweet Pea - departure, tender memory
Thyme - activity
Tuberose - voluptuousness
Tulip (yellow) - there is sunshine in your smile
Uvularia - cheer
Violet - loyalty, modesty, humility, affection, love, watchfulness
Wallflower - fidelity
Wisteria - romance
Wormwood - grief
Xeranthemum - favor
Yew - sorrow
Zinnia - thought

copyright 1999-2012, Martha Beth Lewis
Contact me about reprint permission.

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