Photo by Melody

What Do Your Roses Say in the Language of Flowers?

By Gwen Bruno (gwen21February 1, 2013
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Few flowers are more imbued with meaning than the rose. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” according to Shakespeare. "My love is like a red, red rose," sang the poet Robert Burns. “Every rose has its thorns,” “seeing the world through rose-colored glasses” and “everything is coming up roses” are sayings familiar to everyone.

Gardening picture

One Perfect Rose


A single flow'r he sent me, since we met,

All tenderly his messenger he chose;

Deep-hearted pure, with scented dew still wet --
One perfect rose.

I know the language of the floweret.

My fragile leaves, it said, his heart enclose.

Love long has taken for his amulet

One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent yet 

One perfect limousine, do you suppose?

Ah no, it's always just my luck to get

One perfect rose.


~ Dorothy Parker

As the first two stanzas of this clever poem by satirist Dorothy Parker attest, the gift of a single red rose has long symbolized love. (The wry third stanza reveals the recipient’s more pragmatic desires.) Anyone familiar with the language of flowers, however, knows that roses can send numerous other messages as well. Whether you give or receive a gift of roses this Valentine’s Day, you may want to carefully consider the message being sent.

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Red

Red roses are the traditional way to simply say “I love you". Symbolizing romance, passion and love that stands the test of time, red roses are a time-honored gift on Valentine’s Day.  A less well-known message of red roses is courage and respect, making them appropriate as a congratulatory gift at any time of year.
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Pink

Delicate and sweet, pink roses are a token that says "You are graceful and lovely". The color pink speaks of femininity and gentleness, appropriate for showing affection and appreciation to a female of any age. Pink has also come to represent the battle against breast cancer, making a pink bouquet an especially meaningful gift for anyone surviving or fighting the disease.
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White

Quiet and elegant, white roses have long represented purity and innocence. They are a traditional bridal flower, symbolizing honor, reverence and new beginnings. White or cream-colored roses can also represent spirituality and serve as a form of remembrance for a loved one. You may wish to send white roses on Valentine's Day to say "You're an angel".
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Yellow

Yellow, the color of the sun, evokes feelings of warmth and happiness. Few bouquets are as cheerful or energizing as a bunch of bright yellow or golden roses. On Valentine's Day you may send them to say "You are the light of my life". Choose yellow roses any time of year to send a message of joy, delight, good luck, friendship or caring.
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Orange

Bright and zesty, orange expresses enthusiasm.  Orange roses can symbolize fervent love and excitement, sending the message "I desire you". Since orange is a shade that seems to be either loved or hated, it’s best to learn your recipient’s tastes before sending roses of this color. Roses of pastel orange or peach appear more modest and friendly, making them appropriate for almost any occasion, particularly as a thank you gift When given to a special someone, peach roses can say “I find you charming".
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Lavender

Lavender roses are attention-getters because they are less common. Their message is one of enchantment, adoration and love at first sight. When sent to a lover they may say "I'm under your spell". Because shades of purple are associated with royalty, lavender roses can also symbolize respect and admiration, expressing the sentiment "You are the queen (or king) of my heart".

Photo credits:
thumbnail photo by LuAnn Hunt
red rose by StuffNThings
pink rose by whisperwolf
yellow rose by absentbabinski
white roses from quinet
orange rose by fuzzyjay
lavender rose by chippern73 (Chuck Norman)


  About Gwen Bruno  
Gwen BrunoAfter spending 28 years as a teacher and librarian, Gwen Bruno is now a full-time freelance writer residing in suburban Chicago. As a preschooler, she lovingly tended a small patch of weeds in her backyard. Luckily, her parents supported her budding horticultural endeavors, and she's been gardening ever since.

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