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What is the meaning of red roses vs white roses?

What is the meaning of red roses vs white roses?

Giving someone roses is a meaningful gesture that can convey different messages depending on the color. Red roses and white roses in particular have their own symbolism and implications when given as a gift. Understanding the subtle differences between these two rose colors can help gift-givers select the right ones for their intentions.

Meaning of Red Roses

Red roses are the most classic and iconic flower choice to give to a romantic partner. They symbolize love, passion, and romance. Throughout history, red roses have appeared in art, literature, and songs as the definitive flower representing true love. Some key points about giving red roses:

  • Red roses convey romance, passion, desire, and deep affection for someone
  • Best given to a romantic partner or love interest
  • Can signal the seriousness of a relationship when given early on
  • Commonly given on Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and other romantic occasions
  • Receiving a single red rose or a bouquet of red roses means “I love you”

Red roses specifically represent romantic sentiments rather than platonic ones. Giving someone red roses implies you have deeper feelings and affection that go beyond just friendship. The richness of the red color evokes the heart, love, and infatuation. When you want to kindle a new romance or demonstrate your ardor for your special someone, choose red roses to clearly convey your passionate message.

Meaning of White Roses

White roses have a very different set of meanings from red roses. Rather than symbolizing passion and romantic love, the white rose represents innocence, purity, sympathy, spirituality, and humility. Key details on white roses:

  • White roses express innocence and purity
  • Appropriate for new beginnings like weddings and births
  • Give to show sympathy and support during difficult times
  • Can symbolize a platonic or non-romantic connection
  • Often used in bridal bouquets and floral wedding arrangements

White roses are understated and elegant. Often described as the “bridal rose,” they suggest wholesomeness and unity. White roses do not imply the same romantic message as red roses. Instead, they can signal respect, thoughtfulness, and growing affection in relationships. They are the perfect choice to give a dear friend, co-worker, relative, or even yourself.

Red vs White Roses: Key Differences

To summarize the distinctions between red roses and white roses:

Red Roses White Roses
Romantic love Innocence
Passion Purity
Desire Spirituality
Deep affection New beginnings
Valentine’s Day Weddings
Anniversaries Sympathy

Red roses are for romance while white roses have a more genteel and platonic meaning. Keep this distinction in mind when selecting which color rose to gift someone.

How Many Roses to Give and Their Meanings

In addition to color, the number of roses given also has significance. Here is an overview of some typical quantities and what they can signify:

  • Single rose – “I love you,” simplicity, gratitude, devotion
  • 6 roses – infatuation, fascination with someone
  • 12 roses – deep passion, admiration, “be mine”
  • 18 roses – sincere devotion, saying “I’m yours”
  • 24 roses – overflowing romance, “you’re always on my mind”
  • 36 roses – proposal, asking “will you marry me?”
  • 101 roses – eternal love, unity, “you are the one”

As you can see, the number of roses gifted tends to correlate with the significance and seriousness of the relationship. Single roses and 6 roses work well in the early wooing stage. A couple dozen roses or more implies a serious courtship or intentions for lifelong partnership.

Rose Colors Beyond Red and White

While red and white roses are the most traditional choices, rose breeds come in diverse colors that also carry symbolic meaning:

  • Pink – gentleness, grace, friendship, sweetness
  • Yellow – joy, gladness, warmth, affection
  • Orange – passion, enthusiasm, energy, desire
  • Lavender – majesty, splendor, regality, awe
  • Black – farewell, death, rebirth, endings
  • Blue – mystery, impossible achievement, imagination
  • Green – harmony, opulence, fruitfulness, abundance

Having an expanded color palette allows for more nuanced communication through rose gifting. Mixing colors can enable you to create a customized bouquet with layered meaning.

Rose Gift-Giving Etiquette

To make the most of giving someone a rose gift, be mindful of these etiquette tips:

  • Remove any thorns from the stems before presenting
  • Select fresh roses that are not wilting or damaged
  • Trim rose stems and recut at an angle before putting them in water
  • Present roses thoughtfully – tie with ribbon, include a card, arrange in a vase
  • Time your gift appropriately to convey the right sentiment
  • Give roses in person for romantic occasions rather than having them delivered
  • For large numbers of roses, break them up into multiple bouquets
  • Keep red roses traditional – don’t give other colors to your romantic partner

Putting some extra care into giving roses shows your affection and appreciation for the recipient. By minding traditional rose etiquette, your gift is sure to impress.

History and Lore of the Rose

Roses have appeared throughout human artistic, literary, and cultural traditions as the definitive representation of love and beauty. Here are some of the key historical highlights around the rose flower:

  • Roses are ancient – they have existed for over 35 million years
  • Rose fossils date back some 35 million years to the Eocene epoch
  • Roses first became associated with Aphrodite, Venus, Isis, and other goddesses of love
  • Cleopatra notoriously carpeted the floors with rose petals for Marc Antony
  • Roses were used to crown Roman emperors during triumphal processions
  • In Medieval times, roses symbolized the Virgin Mary
  • The 15th century Wars of the Roses were fought between York and Lancaster roses
  • Roses appear in Shakespeare’s plays to represent love and beauty
  • Roses inspired global perfume traditions that continue to this day

From ancient myth to modern romance, the rose has endured across cultures and generations as the ultimate floral symbol of desire, passion, and femininity. The rich history enhances the meaning and impact when you give roses to your own special person.

Common Uses of Roses

Beyond romance and gift-giving, roses play a part in many traditions, celebrations, and products:

  • Roses are used in Valentine’s Day gifts, bouquets, and decor
  • Rose petals scattered for weddings, anniversaries, and proposals
  • Roses decorate cakes, place settings, and table arrangements at celebratory events
  • Rose water and oils are common components in perfumes and cosmetics
  • Rose extracts are used to flavor foods and drinks
  • Rose hips are a source of nutrients, used to make tea, jam, and wine
  • Rose gardens are planted ornamentally in public and private spaces
  • Dried roses can make potpourri, craft projects, decorations, and more

There are abundant ways to integrate roses into celebrations, design, cuisine, beauty products, and craftmaking. Roses pair their emotional resonance with diverse practical uses.

Selecting Roses – Varieties, Prices, & Availability

When you are ready to purchase roses as a gift or for an event, here are some tips on selection and logistics:

Rose Types

  • Long Stemmed – Traditional roses with extra-long stems, 18-24 inches
  • Sweetheart – Shorter stems but larger blooms, 12-18 inches long
  • Spray – Smaller roses clustered on a single stem
  • Miniature – Tiny rose blooms only 1-3 inches wide

Long stem roses are classic for romance while the smaller varieties work well for table arrangements and decor. Choose the length and size that suits your needs.

Rose Prices

  • Single rose – $2-$10
  • Half dozen roses – $20-$45
  • One dozen roses – $40-$80
  • Two dozen roses – $80-$150
  • Lavish 3+ dozen roses – $200+

Pricing depends on rose type, stem length, time of year, customization, and retailer. Ordering online tends to be most economical.

Buying Seasons

  • Peak season is late spring through summer with abundant selection and lower prices.
  • Out-of-season roses are most expensive around Valentine’s Day.
  • Imported roses provide broader availability during cooler months.
  • Look for seasonal roses like local peonies and ranunculus to supplement classic roses.

With planning and flexible options, roses can enhance a special occasion any time of year.

Caring for Roses

To help cut roses last longer and stay lovely, follow these care tips:

  • Recut the stems on a diagonal which allows more water uptake
  • Change the water daily and trim stems every couple days
  • Use a commercial flower food or homemade mix of lemon-lime soda & bleach
  • Display roses out of direct sunlight in a cool spot
  • For bouquets, wrap plastic or paper around cut stems to prolong vase life
  • Roses stay fresh longest when refrigerated overnight before arranging

With proper care after purchase, a rose bouquet can provide enjoyment for over a week. Savor your roses by following best practices for their handling.

Giving Roses in Various Relationship Stages

Roses selections can shift in color, variety, and quantity as a romance blossoms and deepens over time:

New Relationship

At the start of dating, keep it simple with a single red rose, a mini bouquet, or mixed colors besides red. Lavender, orange, pink, or yellow roses signal affection without coming on too strong.

Established Partnership

Once the relationship is solidified, upgrade to one dozen classic red roses for anniversaries and other milestones. Alternatively, surprise your partner with 36 lavish roses for a marriage proposal or white roses for an engagement.

Mature Romance

For longtime partners, celebrate your enduring love with creative arrangements that break from cliches. Send a monthly rose subscription or plant a rose bush in your garden. Gift your beloved with a piece of rose jewelry or decorate your home with rose motifs.


Red roses and white roses each carry their own special symbolism and heritage. Red roses represent passionate romance while white roses evoke purity and new beginnings. Beyond these classic hues, multi-colored rose varieties enable nuanced expression. The number of roses also factors into the message conveyed. With their timeless connections to love and beauty, gifting roses becomes a way to communicate personal sentiments. From courtships to mature marriages, roses help turn a phrase and spark imagination across the stages of romantic relationships. By selecting the ideal rose color, number, and presentation, you can eloquently share your emotions and build lasting memories. Let the rose in all her glory be your messenger to deliver the deepest words of the heart.