What Are Valentine Flowers Really Saying?

Roses are red, violets are blue, giving the wrong flower to your Valentine could be calamitous for you. Learn the meaning behind the valentine flowers bouquet you pick for your one and only.

This Valentine’s Day many of us will be giving or receiving flowers as a show of affection… or is it? Ever wonder about the real meaning behind that bouquet?  I decided to do a little research to find out.

One of the many things I learned is there’s an entire language around the meaning of flowers, herbs and other plants called floriography, which was utilized during the Victorian era. Back then, understanding the meaning of flowers and herbs was as important as being well dressed.

A poorly thought-out bouquet could lead to serious misunderstandings. There are even books on the subject — “Le Language des Fleurs” by Louise Cortambert, under the pen name Madame Charlotte de la Tour, and “The Language of Flowers” by Jean Marsh are two of the earliest written.

It’s pretty universally accepted that red roses symbolize love, but did you know red tulips and red chrysanthemums are also declarations of love? Or that a daffodil means regard? There are some differences of opinion on the meaning of plants so I decided to stick to The Old Farmer’s Almanac for my examples.

Here are just a few plants and their meanings to help you choose your next bouquet or potted plant gift. Not all the plants listed below are suitable for growing in our region. For plants that can be transplanted from container to garden bed please consult the Find a Plant section of Garden Style San Antonio.

  • Rosemary – Remembrance
  • Sage – Wisdom, immortality
  • Blue Salvia – I think of you
  • Red Salvia – Forever mine
  • Thyme – Courage, strength
  • Aloe- Healing, protection, affection
  • Chrysanthemum – Cheerfulness
  • Daisy – Innocence, hope
  • Edelweiss – Courage, devotion
  • Violet – Loyalty, devotion, faithfulness
  • Iris – A message
  • Ivy – Friendship, continuity
  • Lilac – Joy of youth
  • Mint – Virtue
  • Lily of the valley – Sweetness

Of course, some of my coworkers had their own theories on plant meanings. One suggested receiving an bouquet of annuals from your love might be a bad sign regarding the longevity of the relationship.

Picture of Vickie Castilleja
Vickie Castilleja
Although no longer with SAWS Conservation, Vickie thoroughly enjoyed her time here learning all aspects of gardening and landscaping from her colleagues. She continues with her interests of vegetable gardening and the food-to-table movement.
Dig Deeper

Find expert advice on garden basics, landscape design, watering and year-round maintenance.