The Meaning of Flower Colours – Is it Important?

Cheery-looking tulips at the flower shop

Just last week, I was buying flowers for a friend because I really didn’t have words to express my gratitude and flowers just seemed to be the right thing.

I double-checked the meaning of the flowers I was buying on my phone and I was left a bit overwhelmed by the amount of information available online. The colour and the type of flower you choose all send a specific message.

A stunning bouquet of fuchsia and cream-coloured bouquet of peonies

I remember as a kid, my mom taught me that all flower colours hold a certain meaning: white for sympathy, yellow for friendship, and red for someone you love. However, as I stood there trying to choose an appropriate floral arrangement, colour rules just seemed like an outdated tradition. At the end of the day, it should be the thought that counts.

A happy floral arrangement that brightens up the day

I made the decision, then and there, that in future I would be more spontaneous when it comes to selecting or making a floral arrangement for a close friend or family and be more attentive to colour rules when I give flowers to someone I don’t know well.

I spoke with a couple of floral designers based in Niagara to hear what they had to say.

Diana, who runs A Yellow Flower Basket with her sister JoAnne in downtown Thorold for the past 28 years, said:

“For my mother, everything was pink. If it was sympathy, it was pink. If it was joy, it was pink. It didn’t matter. Personally, if somebody asks me for a happy arrangement, I choose vibrant colors. I put in hot pink, yellow, orange. If they tell me to make an arrangement that is subtle or delicate, I will go with pastel colours.”

Jennifer Falconer-Holmes from Clippings, an in-house floral design service at Vintage Hotels said:

“A lot of times when men come in to flower shops, they ask for the meaning of the flowers. I always just tell them, they mean whatever you write on the card.”

Thank you for sharing, Diana and Jennifer!

Thoughts? Do you abide by any rules when giving someone a flower arrangement?

8 thoughts on “The Meaning of Flower Colours – Is it Important?

  1. I abide by the traditional flower rule if I’m giving them to someone that I don’t know on a personal level. I would set aside those “rules” when it comes to giving flowers to someone I’m close with.

    To share a funny story, my parents received a large bouquet from someone and it turned out to be funeral flowers…looks like she didn’t follow the rules, but perhaps she should have. My mom said she wasn’t ready to be buried just yet!

  2. This is a very insightful post, and dangerous post – all these great looking treats! awesome work… looking forward to checking out more!

  3. Rebecca, colour meaning is something that I find really interesting. I too learned about white, yellow, and red flowers and their meanings. Not sure if you’ve experienced colour rules and how different they are in different cultures. For example in Asia white flowers symbolize death and should be avoided on joyous occasions.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yeah, colours are definitely something important to keep in mind when visiting another country. I think the fail-safe way of not making a fool of yourself is to visit a local floral shop and follow their advice on local customs.

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