Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

Do red roses mean love?

Do red roses mean love?
August 17, 2014 12:00 am

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, find out what your girls’ favorite rose color is before sending your next bouquet.

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 bloom.

But let's get 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. Just make sure that you and the person you’re sending roses to are on the same page!

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