8 Flower Color Meanings and the Perfect Occasions to Gift Them

Uncover the secret meanings behind your favorite flowers and their colors.

Published January 23, 2023
Woman touching flowers by the window

Everyone's knee-jerk reaction for color-coding the flower arrangements for special events is red for Valentine's Day and white for funerals. While we're more than happy to get a bountiful bouquet of flowers from our valentine, very few of us take the time to think about why people arrange these aromatic flowers the way they do. Just a few generations ago, people were sending flowers specifically curated with hidden meanings in mind. Those meanings have evolved since then, and you can still discover what the most popular flower color meanings are today and ways to incorporate their secret intentions into your everyday life.

Different Flower Color Meanings to Make Your Bouquets Special

For thousands of years, humans have used colors to represent different feelings, statuses, and life events. Fascinatingly, this color theory bled into the floral world, and florists are well-versed in which colors to use in their bouquets to match exactly what you're trying to say or the events you're ordering them for. Check out what your favorite color might mean in the language of flowers and see which occasion it suits best.

Flower color meanings infographic

Red Flowers

Every Valentine's Day, grocery stores, gas stations, and flower shops are bombarded with orders for red roses. Historically, red has been associated with passion, desire, and deep love, which makes it a perfect flower color for people to gift their partners. A red flower might not be something you want to start a date with, but they work really well in anniversary bouquets because of their fiery sentiments.

Our favorite red flowers: Rose, Poppy, Tulip, Chrysanthemum, Coneflowers

Pink Flowers

Pink flowers evoke a sense of romanticism and longing. You can't help but imagine that you're the carefree protagonist of some wistful historical romance when you put one of their delicate petals up to your nose for a sniff. Just a few shades off from red, these flowers embody the more toned-down feelings associated with romance. Think things like general love, gentleness, softness, grace, and femininity.

Our favorite pink flowers: Rose, Dahlia, Orchid, Peony, Tulip

Yellow Flowers

Yellow is so bright and invigorating that it makes sense why people love to surround themselves with flowers in striking yellow shades. From pastels to deep goldenrods, yellow flowers come in a wide variety, but they all have the same meaning - joy. Yellow flowers represent joy and happiness and are appropriate to add to just about any bouquet or flower garden.

Our yellow flower picks: Sunflower, Daffodil, Pansy, Tulip, Rose

Orange Flowers

Orange is an in-your-face kind of color. It's bright and arresting, and connected to vibrant, powerful things like fire and the sun. Of course, this sense of vitality translates into flower meanings, with orange flowers usually being there to inspire enthusiasm and excitement. Just because it's a bold color doesn't mean you should be afraid to include a ton of it in your gardens and bouquets.

Our orange flower picks: Tulip, Rhododendron, Carnation, Zinnia, Marigold

Green Flowers

Usually, you don't see flowers with green petals, but there are a lot of green options that people plant and add to bouquets that serve more than just an aesthetic purpose. Deeply connected to Mother Nature because of the earthy color, green flowers embody the youthfulness of spring and the renewal that comes with the cycling of seasons.

Our green flower picks: Chrysanthemum, Gerbera Daisy, Hydrangea, Orchid, Calla Lily

Blue Flowers

Studies have shown that blue has a relaxing effect on people, so naturally, flowers in blue hues reflect a sense of peace and serenity. They're not usually a loud flower, so they work perfectly as a complementary piece in most arrangements and bouquets. Stick to using blues when you're trying to create a calming environment.

Our blue flower picks: Hydrangea, Forget-Me-Not, Cornflower, Lobelia, Delphinium

Purple Flowers

Historically, purple is a color that has been reserved for royalty - literally. Sumptuary laws and expensive dyeing processes made it illegal in some countries for anyone not of royal blood to wear the color. Of course, that's left a lasting legacy on all things purple, and purple flowers still connect to a sense of royalty and dignity. On top of that, they also represent admiration and success. So, they're flowers you definitely want to give someone if you're wishing them well on a new venture or celebrating any accomplishments they've made.

Our purple flower picks: Lavender, Coneflowers, Hydrangea, Iris, Petunia

White Flowers

Like red flowers, white flowers are well-known for being used at certain events and occasions because of what they symbolize. Typically, you'll see white flowers used in funerals and memorials, and less so in weddings than they used to be. In flowers, white can represent stereotypical ideas of purity, but also bereavement, sympathy, and innocence. It's this connection that makes them perfect for memorial events.

Our white flower picks: Lily, Daisy, Magnolia, Gardenia, Orchid

Sample the Rainbow With a Colorful Bouquet

Usually, people don't think about flower colors until they're ordering a bouquet for someone. Although most people leave it up to the pros to build the best anniversary, birthday, and celebration bouquets, you can take a stab at making your own custom one. Using your new language about flower colors and their meanings, you can create a bouquet tailored for your loved one's situation. Whether they're your parent, a best friend, or a partner, gifting them a bouquet you made with your own hands is a touching thing to do. Try a few examples of different color combos to rock any occasion.

Young redhead woman giving her customer a beautiful bouquet of flowers
  • Anniversary - Ditch the typical red rose bouquet for your next anniversary and incorporate other red and pink flowers into your gift. Mix a bouquet of pink and red carnations and some small roses for a more playful effect.
  • Graduation - You want to celebrate the grad's hard work and wish them success in their future endeavors, so you should stick to bright, jubilant colors like oranges and yellows with flowers such as daisies, sunflowers, and tulips. Adding a pop of greenery to your bouquet will round the whole thing out with a general sense of transition and rebirth into their new self.
  • Baby Shower - Bring a bouquet or centerpiece to a baby shower. Focus on soft colors like pink, white, blue, and purple, and flowers like lavender, baby's breath, and hydrangeas. These soothing colors will keep the baby mama at ease while everyone gets the festivities going.

Communication's Blooming With Colorful Flowers and Their Hidden Meanings

Sometimes what you say without words means more than any of the heartfelt phrases you could come up with. Add a hidden layer to your floral gifts by picking out bouquets, wildflowers, and centerpieces based on the colors and their meanings, and watch to see if your friends and family can uncover just what you're telling them.

8 Flower Color Meanings and the Perfect Occasions to Gift Them