Here’s What Your Valentine’s Day Bouquet Is Really Saying

Don't let your Valentine's Day bouquet send the wrong message! Discover the past and present meanings of today’s most popular flowers.

What are you flowers saying? In the Victorian Era, flowers had secret meanings that expressed sentiments of love, lust, adoration and even rejection. This secret language still exists today, if somewhat subconsciously. So this Valentine’s Day, don’t let your flowers send the wrong message! Learn the past and present meanings of eight of today’s most popular flowers below.

Winter Flower Centerpiece

Lovely Bouquet of Winter Flowers

This bouquet is made up of copper amaranth, white astilbe, silver brunia berries, echinacea, gomphrenia, Dutch hydrangea and Sweet Annie artimisia.


Pink Flowers and Sliced Limes in a square glass vase

Spring Flower and Fruit Centerpiece

Create a fragrant and colorful centerpiece with fresh lime slices and blooming perennials. The trick to keeping the lime slices upright is to use two vases of varying sizes, fitting one inside of the other and filling in the space with 1/4-inch-thick lime slices. The luscious fruit and floral scents will last for two-to-three days.

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Before their recent popularity explosion, peonies were known as “the poor man’s rose” because of their lower price tag. In Victorian times, they symbolized shame or bashfulness. Today, peonies are among the most expensive and in-demand flowers on the market. A bouquet of these delicate, aromatic blooms shows your appreciation of beauty and tells the recipient that you want to give her the very best.




With its hardiness and vibrant color, the sunflower is a testament to its namesake, the sun. To indigenous Americans, this edible plant was a major food source. But to aristocratic Victorians, a gift of these bright blooms pledged admiration and loyalty to the recipient. Today, sunflowers symbolize laid-back joy and pure happiness. Make a statement with a large bunch of these cheery stems or arrange loosely with other wildflowers for a sweet, bohemian look. 


Photo by: Longfield Gardens

Longfield Gardens

Because of their simplistic beauty, tulips once symbolized love and cheerfulness. The red variety stood for perfect love while the yellow variety told a lover that his or her smile was beautiful. Today, tulips represent comfort and ease because they're easily recognized and elegant without being flashy. These simple flowers make a sweet gift for a family member or long-term significant other. 


Easy Spring Centerpieces: White Hydrangea

Easy Spring Centerpieces: White Hydrangea

As one of the most versatile flowers, white hydrangea works best when used in large bunches. Gather three to four bunches of white hydrangea and place them in a clear, low vessel. The texture and shape create a graphic look that can be casual or formal, depending on the decor of your space. One thing to keep in mind when using hydrangea is their sensitivity to heat. Be careful when entertaining outdoors in high temperatures or extreme sunlight as they can wilt in just minutes.

Photo by: Flynnside Out Productions

Flynnside Out Productions

This large, water loving flower had a dual meaning in the 19th century. A single hydrangea symbolized vanity and boastfulness while a bouquet said “Thank you for understanding.” The hydrangea is one of the most commonly used flowers in modern arrangements because it is bold, beautiful and adds fullness to a design. A gift of hydrangeas is a testament to your good taste. Just make sure they're fresh! Wilted hydrangeas are the worst.


Photo by: The Knot, Laura Ivanova Photography

The Knot, Laura Ivanova Photography

Carnations were one of the most popular flowers in the Victorian era and were used to relay secret messages in a time when PDA was frowned upon. If a suitor received a pink carnation from his love, it meant his feelings were reciprocated. But if she sent him a gift of solid yellow or striped carnations, he knew he was refused.

With their pretty ruffled petals, hardiness and endless color varieties, carnations are now a symbol of youthful beauty and fun. If you are in a budding relationship or thinking of a friend, a gift of peach or pink carnations says “I love ya!” without any awkward romantic connotations. They're also super inexpensive!

Gerbera Daisy



©Sarah Dorio Photography

Sarah Dorio Photography

Past and present, Gerbera daisies stand for cheerfulness. With their fun, bright colors and youthful appeal, a bouquet of these eye-catching blooms is perfect for a younger sister or a loved one who has an affinity for the unique.

Calla Lily

Yellow and Green Calla Lilies Wrapped With Raffia Ribbon

Sunshine Yellow Calla Lilies Bouquet

A beautiful, cheery bouquet of Sunshine calla lilies are perfect for a summer wedding.

Photo by: Klenova Klenova

Be careful when gifting this flower. Although the white variety has long stood for purity and innocence, it is now used most frequently as a funeral flower. Unless you want your loved to one to think of death and sadness this V-day, opt for a colored calla lily like this gorgeous Sunshine variety.


Light Pink Garden Roses

Apricot Abraham Darby Roses

Roses have and will always stand for one thing: love. More specifically, everlasting love. But this Valentine’s Day, forget the outdated red rose (blah) and opt for a softer color. A bouquet of fresh and lovely pastel pink or apricot garden roses, like this Abraham Darby rose, says “I love you” in the most romantic way.

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Roses have and will always stand for one thing: love. More specifically, everlasting love. But this Valentine’s Day, forget the outdated red rose (blah) and opt for a softer color. A bouquet of fresh and lovely pastel pink or apricot garden roses, like these Abraham Darby roses, says “I love you” in the most romantic way.

Want to Learn More?

Send your valentine the perfect message with help from this fun flower symbolism quiz. Test your knowledge of popular Valentine's Day flowers and what it means when you send them.

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