Plants - Perennials

The language of flowers

Judith Adam
Photography by
Roger Yip

Take a note from the Victorians and plant a secret message in your bouquets

Rose codes
Fully open rose laid over two rosebuds: secrecy
White rose: I am worthy of you
White rosebud: a heart ignorant of love, girlhood
Red rosebud: pure and lovely
Yellow rose: decrease of love, jealousy
Single-petalled rose: simplicity
Crown of roses: reward of virtue
Carolina rose (Rosa carolina): love is dangerous
Moss rose bud: confession of love
Cabbage rose (R. centifolia): ambassador of love
Eglantine rose (R. eglanteria): poetry
China rose (R. chinensis): beauty always new
Deep red rose: bashful shame
White and red roses together: unity
Red-leafed rose (R. glauca): beauty and prosperity
Musk rose (R. moschata): capricious beauty
Clustered musk roses: charming
Thornless rose: early attachment
Damask rose (R. damascena): freshness
‘Boule de Neige' rose: only for thee
Old glory rose (R. ‘Gloire de Dijon'): a messenger of love
‘Maiden's Blush' rose: if you love me you will find it out

Lilac codes
Purple lilac: first emotions of love
White lilac: youthful innocence, purity
Pink lilac: mature love

Hyacinth codes
Purple hyacinth: sorrow
Blue hyacinth: constancy
White hyacinth: unobtrusive loveliness

Sentimental favourites
Apple blossom: preference
Bluebell: constancy
White clover: think of me
Daisy: I share your sentiment
Forget-me-not: be faithful to me
Fern: sincerity
Gladiolus: strength of character
Wild grape: charity
Heliotrope: devotion
Honeysuckle: bonds of love
Hens and chicks: vivacity, domestic economy
Iris: message
Ivy: friendship, fidelity, marriage
Lily-of-the-valley: return of happiness
Love-in-a-mist: perplexity
Love-lies-bleeding: hopeless, not heartless
Mint: virtue
Moss: maternal love
Petunia: never despair
Phlox: unanimity
Pincushion flower: unfortunate love
Primula: diffidence
Sweet William: gallantry
Blue violet: faithfulness
Wisteria: I cling to thee

Darker emotions
Begonia: dark thoughts
Butterfly weed: let me go
Columbine: folly
Foxglove: insincerity
Gentian: you are unjust
Lavender: mistrust
Lobelia: malevolence
Larkspur: fickleness
Laurel in flower: perfidy, wickedness
Yellow lily: falsehood
Lotus flower: estranged love
Marigold: grief and despair
French marigold: jealousy
Meadowsweet: uselessness
Narcissus: egotism
Peony: shameful
Sneezeweed: tears
Stinging nettle: you are cruel
Nightshade: falsehood
Pasque flower: you have no claims
Rue: disdain
St. John's wort: animosity
Tansy: I declare war against you

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