Communicating Horticulturally

Iris - faith, wisdom, valor and promise

This post started out as junk mail.

Years ago, I researched and collected a list of plant meanings for a direct mailing I did for a client. Yes, I'm not afraid to admit it– I do design some direct marketing materials. Okay, junk mail. But I always try to have some part of the mailing be a relevant educational item. Some day I'll post about the snowflake field guide I did for a science museum snowflake exhibit.

Then I decided to make this list a small flyer to hand out during Garden Walk each year. Information is fluid and can be repurposed for almost any need–as long as you own the copyright!

A long-time friend, who happens to be the creative director (designer) of People Places Plants magazine, was in town for Garden Walk two years ago. The magazine, published by author, founder, and former HGTV host, Paul Tukey, is based in New Gloucester, Maine.

She was here briefly to get her son off to summer camp, but was here long enough to pick up one of my flyers–and six months later asked if People Places Plants could use it as an article. They published it in their Spring 2008 issue. I got a byline and everything!

I first posted about it here. At that time, I didn't feel as though I should post the whole article (just a list, really) here, as the magazine was still on the shelves. And I wanted people to have a reason to buy the magazine. Layanee's garden, of Ledge and Gardens, was featured in an article in the same issue.

But sufficient time has passed, I think, and I have the whole article here for your reading pleasure.

I've ordered a bouquet of orange lilies for you, to be delivered today. Keep an eye out for them.

If you have anything to add to the list, please do!

Communicating Horticulturally
For centuries, plants have had special meanings attached to them. Of course, they’re just plants, and they’re only interested in communicating to pollinators. But still, you should read this first before you give that bouquet of tuberose or cornflower to the wrong person.

Acacia - Friendship
Agapanthus - Secret love
Alstroemeria - Devotion
Amaryllis - Pride, timidity, splendid beauty
Anemone - Expectations
Aster - Elegance and love
Azalea - First love, temperance
Baby’s Breath - Innocence
Bachelor Button - Hope
Begonia - A fanciful nature
Bells of Ireland - Good luck
Bouvardia - Enthusiasm
Buttercup - Childishness
Calla Lily - Magnificent beauty
Camellia - Red: Unpretending excellence
White: Perfected loveliness
Carnation - Red: Alas poor heart
Pink: I’ll never forget you
Purple: capriciousness
Striped: Sorry I can’t be with you
White: Innocence
Yellow: Disdain
Red: Love
Chrysanthemum - White: Truth
Yellow: Slighted love
Cornflower - Celibacy
Crocus - Youthful gladness
Daffodil - Regard, you are the only one
Dahlia - Dignity and elegance
Daisy - Gentleness, innocence, loyalty and romance
Dandelion - Rustic oracle
Delphinium - Flights of fancy, ardent attachment
Fern - Fascination
Forget Me Not - Faithful love, undying hope, memory, do not forget
Freesia - Innocence
Galax - Encouragement
Gardenia - Purity and sweet love
Gladiolus - Strength of character
Heather - Admiration and beauty
Hibiscus - Delicate beauty
Hyacinth - Playful joy
Iris - Faith, wisdom, valor and promise
Ivy - Wedded love, fidelity, friendship and affection
Jasmine - Amiability
Jonquil - Affection returned
Larkspur - An open heart
Lavender - Loyalty
Lemon Leaves - Everlasting love
Lilac - Purple: First emotion of love
White: Youthful innocence
Lily - Orange: Wealth
White: Sweetness
Yellow: Gaiety, walking on air
Lily of the Valley - Humility, sweetness, return of happiness
Lotus Flower - Estranged love
Magnolia - Love of nature
Marigold - Grief
Morning Glory - Affection
Myrtle - Home, love
Narcissus - Egotism
Orange Blossom - Innocence, eternal love, marriage and fruitfulness
Orchid - Love, beauty and magnificence
Pansy - Thoughtful reflection
Peony - Happy marriage and prosperity
Primrose - Young love
Ranunculus - Radiant, charming
Rose - Pink: Perfect happiness White: Charm and innocence
Red: Love and desire Single Red: I love you Burgundy: Unconscious love
White and Red: Unity Orange Passion
Yellow: Joy and gladness
Rosebud - Beauty and youth
Rosemary - Remembrance
Snapdragon - Presumption
Star of Bethlehem - Purity
Statice - Remembrance
Stephanotis - Marital happiness
Stock - Lasting beauty
Sweet Pea - Blissful pleasure
Tuberose - Dangerous pleasure
Tulip - Love and passion
Red: Declaration of love
Violet - Faithfulness
Wax Flower - Riches
Yarrow - Healing


  1. Very interesting! I feel beds of orange lilies coming on for next season!

  2. I knew I loved the color orange, but that photo of the blue iris is pretty darn special. ;->

    new url

  3. nancybond,
    I think, this year, we could all use some orange lilies.

    That blue iris is my favorite flower. It came from my mother's garden that was ever-present when I was growing up. I'm hoping to instill enough gardening into my daughter that I can pass these iris on to her, also instilling faith, widom, valor and promise.


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