Floriography: Exploring the Victorian Meaning of Flowers



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One of the cheeriest flowers in the field, the daisy very fittingly meant innocence and hope.




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To Victorians, gardenias were as romantic as they looked and meant secret love.



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Like its Greek meaning of “rainbow,” the iris carried different meanings to Victorians depending on the color and quantity. A bouquet of blue irises symbolized hope and faith, while a purple iris meant wisdom.




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Victorian widows were often seen wearing lilacs, as they were meant to be reminders of an old love.




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Although Victorians were passionate flower collectors, during the 19th century, orchids were extremely hard to find in England, thus implying that orchid owners were of remarkable wealth and good taste. Giving an orchid expressed deep love and passion.




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Originally deriving from the French word “pensée,” the pansy flower symbolized thoughtfulness.




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In China, peonies are considered to be the “king of flowers.” The Victorians used peonies to express prosperity and happy marriage.




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Today, red roses are the go-to for Valentine's Day lovers. According to the Victorian language of flowers, each color of rose had a different meaning:

  • Red roses meant I love you.
  • White roses meant charm or innocence.
  • Pink roses meant perfect happiness.
  • Yellow roses meant jealousy.


Next: Even More Flowers and Their Victorian Meanings

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. When she’s not writing, Margherita continues to develop her creative practice in sequential art.
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