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The Meaning of Roses

Betty Harkness Fl orWhen Valentine’s Day comes you may be giving or receiving roses; both the color and the number of flowers in the bouquet may have a meaning so you might like to know something about the language of roses. The color may reflect the nature of the feeling that the sender has while the number may indicate the intensity of that feeling. For example, a dozen red roses is a traditional Valentine’s Day bouquet but what is the bouquet saying? The red suggests love and passion, while the dozen suggests the ultimate declaration of love. If the bouquet contained 50 roses, the message would be “unconditional love”.

Red roses are generally for lovers and suggest romantic love, passion and desire. Depending on the shade of red, desire can be long standing, sublime, deceitful, or passionate (fiery red). Dark crimson are a sign of mourning so aren’t a good choice for Valentine’s Day).

Pink roses suggest a lesser degree of love than red but can also imply elegance, grace, gratitude, gentleness and appreciation.

Peach roses imply friendship.

White roses symbolize purity, innocence, humility, and reverence (think “Virgin Mary”) and was used as a symbol of the Virgin in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Secrecy and silence are also possibilities.

Yellow roses in Victorian times signified jealousy but in modern times mean devotion and friendship.

Orange roses suggest passion and energy and imply intense desire or pride.

Lavender roses have a majesty and may signify enchantment or love at first sight.

Red and yellow roses may be combined to suggest happy feelings, orange and yellow combined to imply enthusiasm, or red and white to signify unity.

A single rose bud indicates simplicity but one open rose says “I love you” and engagement. Two roses indicate gratitude; 11 roses says “you are my treasured one”; a dozen is a declaration of love; 15 says “I am sorry, please forgive me’; 25 roses offers gratitude, and 50 roses declare unconditional love. If an open rose is presented over two rose buds, secrecy is implied.

Of course you can find dozens of other meanings for roses many contradicting each other so you can never really be sure of the bouquet’s message, or if there even was one. But knowing that the color and number of roses can have meaning gives a whole new depth to giving or receiving them.

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Recommended Reading:

Flowers: The Book of Floral Design
Tussie-Mussies: The Language of Flowers
The Complete Flower Arranging Book
Infinite Succulents