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What are popular flowers and meaning?

What are popular flowers and meaning?

Flowers have been a meaningful part of human culture for thousands of years. Different flowers have taken on symbolic meanings and have been used to convey messages and sentiments. Some flowers are universally associated with certain meanings, while other flower meanings are more cultural and regional. Understanding popular flowers and their coded messages can enrich our appreciation and use of blooms.

Meanings of Popular Flowers

Here are some of the most popular flowers worldwide and what they represent:


Roses symbolize love, appreciation and beauty. Red roses are most strongly associated with romantic love, while other colors carry different meanings. Pink roses connote gratitude and grace, yellow roses represent joy and friendship, and white roses evoke purity and innocence.


Many lily varieties represent purity and devotion. White lilies are connected with majesty and dignity, while yellow lilies symbolize thankfulness and desire for enjoyment. Pink lilies convey wealth and prosperity. Calla lilies specifically denote magnificence and beauty.


Tulips are seen as a declaration of love. Red tulips are most linked to true love, while purple symbolizes royalty. White tulips stand for forgiveness, yellow tulips represent cheerful thoughts, and pink tulips convey caring and good wishes.


Sunflowers epitomize adoration, loyalty and longevity. They are seen as happy flowers that provide energy and vitality. Sunflowers also represent wisdom, aspiration and nourishment.


Carnations indicate fascination, distinction and love. Red carnations symbolize admiration, white carnations represent innocence and pure love, and pink carnations convey gratitude.


Daisies convey innocence, loyal love, and purity. They are seen as symbols of faithful love because they can grow singularly or surrounded by other flowers. Daisies also represent simplicity and cheer.


Orchids denote beauty, refinement, thoughtfulness and mature charm. They symbolize rare and delicate beauty. Colors add further meaning, with white orchids representing reverence and humility, pink conveying grace and happiness, and purple symbolizing admiration.


In many parts of the world, chrysanthemums represent death and grief. However, they can also indicate longevity and joyfulness. Red chrysanthemums symbolize love, while white signifies innocence and purity. Yellow chrysanthemums denote slighted love.

Flower Color Meanings

In addition to meaning associated with specific flowers, the color of a bloom can also carry symbolism:

  • Red – Love, romance, courage
  • Pink – Appreciation, grace, admiration
  • White – Purity, innocence, reverence
  • Yellow – Joy, friendship, optimism
  • Purple – Royalty, admiration, tradition
  • Orange – Desire, passion, enthusiasm
  • Blue – Rarity, spirituality, tranquility
  • Green – Growth, renewal, good health

Regional and Cultural Variations

While some flower meanings are consistent across cultures, other associations are specific to certain regions and peoples:


  • Red roses symbolize love in China, but indicate sorrow and grief in Tibet.
  • White chrysanthemums represent grief in China and Japan.
  • Yellow flowers denote dying love in Japan.
  • Lotus flowers represent peace, purity and enlightenment in India and throughout Asia.

Middle East

  • Red tulips are associated with declarations of love in Turkey.
  • Jasmine represents simplicity and elegance.
  • Roses indicate secrecy or confidentiality.
  • Violets signify spiritual wisdom.


  • Red carnations represent fascination in Denmark and Estonia.
  • White lilies are funeral flowers in Italy and France.
  • Daisies mean loyal love in Switzerland and Germany.
  • Forget-me-nots convey remembrance throughout Europe.

Australia and New Zealand

  • Waratahs symbolize courage and strength in Australia.
  • Kangaroo paw denotes wealth and prosperity.
  • Silver tree ferns represent endurance and resilience in New Zealand.

North and South America

  • Poinsettias indicate celebration of Christmas in Mexico and North America.
  • Birds of paradise represent magnificence and freedom in South America.
  • Morning glories signify affection in Central America.
  • Sunflowers represent worship and respect in Peru.

Most Popular Wedding Flowers

Specific flowers are traditionally used in weddings across cultures. Here are some top wedding flowers and their meanings:

Flower Meaning
Rose Love
Lily Purity, devotion
Tulip Declaration of love
Gardenia Joy, sweetness
Stephanotis Marital happiness
Peony Prosperity, good fortune
Carnation Pride, beauty
Baby’s Breath Everlasting love, innocence
Orchid Love, refinement

History and Meaning Over Time

While flower meanings have shifted over time as different cultures and traditions adopted and adapted them, many associations have remained constant for centuries. Documenting the history and evolutions of flower symbolism illuminates the ongoing role of blooms in human connection and expression.

Roses have signified love since ancient times. Cleopatra famously filled her chambers with roses to seduce Mark Antony, and Aphrodite was said to make roses and myrtles bloom. Red roses were sacred to Aphrodite as the goddess of love.

Lilies have denoted purity for thousands of years. They were found in ancient Greek and Roman bridal bouquets and decorations as symbols of innocence. During the Middle Ages, the white lily represented the Virgin Mary’s purity and chastity.

In ancient Mesopotamia, carnations were symbolic of the gods. Pink carnations were used in Greek floral crowns. Carnations were later adopted as the symbol for Mother’s Day, made official in 1907.

Irises were used for medicinal purposes since ancient Egypt, and Greek mythology associated the blooms with the goddess Iris. Purple irises specifically came to symbolize wisdom and admiration.

Sunflowers were domesticated in the Americas in 3000 BC and have maintained their symbolic ties to solar worship and sustenance through the ages. They were worshipped by Native Americans and Aztecs as representations of their sun gods.

Chrysanthemums originated in China over 2,500 years ago. Chinese culture has long revered the flowers as symbols of long life, lamentation, and meditation. The chrysanthemum was adopted as the imperial emblem of Japan in the 7th century AD.

Tulips originated in Persia and Turkey, introduced to Europe in the 16th century. Their name comes from the Persian word for turban. Red tulips rapidly became associated with declarations of love across Europe and the Ottoman empire.

Daisies symbolized innocence from the Medieval period through the Renaissance across Europe. Gerbera daisies were hybridized in the late 19th century. Since the 1970s, Gerbera daisies have expressed cheerfulness and celebration.

Peonies originated in Asia over a thousand years ago. In China, peonies symbolized honor, prosperity and bashfulness. Tree peonies indicate nobility, and herbaceous peonies represent honor and wealth.

Uses and Applications

Understanding flower meanings and symbolism allows for informed use in various contexts:

  • Gifts – Choose flowers that convey the sentiment you want to express to recipients.
  • Weddings – Incorporate flowers carrying meanings like love and fertility into bouquets and decor.
  • Events – Use flowers representing celebration, gratitude or honor for event displays.
  • Gardens – Plant and arrange flowers with intended meanings and combine blooms to convey messages.
  • Floral art – Craft flowers into art, poetry and displays that rely on coded meanings.
  • Therapy – Apply flower meanings, like tranquility or healing, to promote wellbeing.

Beyond these applications, an awareness of the diverse meanings attached to popular flowers allows for a richer appreciation of the role of blooms throughout human history and culture. The underlying meanings reveal the depth of care, thought and emotion humans have invested in flowers across time and place.


Flowers carry layer upon layer of symbolic meaning derived from mythology, culture, history and individual experience. Although flower meanings shift across regions, eras and cultures, several associations have remained constant for centuries, while new traditions continue to evolve. Understanding the messages encoded in floral gifts, wedding flowers, garden plants and floral art allows for more meaningful personal communication and connection.