Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

Color matters when sending a bouquet of roses

Color matters when sending a bouquet of roses

JIM GAINAN Growing Up | Posted: Sunday, August 14, 2011 12:00 am

"Do red roses mean love?" Being a florist, we hear this question daily. For Valentine's Day, the holiday of love, we bulk up our order of red roses because we know that's what all of you lovebirds are going to want to send. By the way, a study by the Society of American Florists said that most women prefer a color of rose other than red -- so guys, ask your girls what their favorite rose color is.

Assigning meanings to flowers goes back to biblical times, but it was during the 1800s under the reign of Queen Victoria when the subtlety of the language of flowers really blossomed. This was a time when conversation was restricted by convention. People used flowers to express what they dared not say --expressions of love, insults, even threats. Flowers were everywhere in Victorian times from fresh cut bouquets to men's lapels, even appearing on stationery.

This language was so subtle that books on floral etiquette and dictionaries with lengthy definitions were published. Some of these publications contradicted each other, so it was crucial for the parties communicating to have the same book. Imagine sending a flower expressing undying love to your girlfriend and the she interpreted it as a symbol of infidelity!

Flower selection was not only important, but also the choice of color and the shade of the flower. Back to our original classic red rose. A red rose traditionally meant "I love you," but if the shade was too dark it implied shame; too light and it would express a desire to keep the love a secret.

Now there are over 30,000 rose varieties, so luckily for us in today's modern world, bouquets usually take on the intent of the sender.

However, for those of you who wish to communicate in the language of flowers, here are some meanings for colored roses.

Saying it with Roses

  • Coral and Orange: Enthusiasm, Desire
  • Pink: Grace, Gentility, Friendship
  • Deep Pink: Gratitude and Appreciation
  • Light Pink: Admiration and Sympathy
  • Red: Passionate Love, Respect, Courage
  • Deep Burgundy: Unconscious Beauty
  • Red & White: Unity
  • Red & Yellow Blends: Jovial and Happy Feelings
  • White: Innocence and Purity, You're Heavenly, Reverence, Humility, I'm Worthy of You, Secrecy, Silence
  • Yellow: Joy, Gladness
  • Pale Colors: Sociability and Friendship
  • Rosebuds: Beauty, Youth, Heart Innocent of Love