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How To Pick the Perfect Flowers for Valentine’s Day

Flowers have always been seen as a symbol of beauty and love, but certain flowers hold specific meanings. These meanings date back to the Victorian era. They greatly influenced Shakespeare’s works as well as plays from ancient Greece, Rome and China. It was uncommon to see a Victorian home without a book on the language of flowers, and this text was often displayed next to the bible. 

Victorian flower rules extended to more than just the flower itself. An upside down flower expressed the antithesis of the intended meaning. A flower given with the right hand was a “yes”, while a flower with the left was a “no”.

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, the meaning of flowers becomes more important. Below is a list of flowers and their meanings, curated for your Valentine’s flower shopping needs. 


These purple plants are not commonly the centerpiece of a bouquet, but they hold significance even on the sidelines. Asters symbolize love, wisdom, and charm. They are named after the Greek word for “star”, as the yellow middle bursts into vibrant purple petals that resemble the night sky. These would be the perfect addition to a bouquet for a friend or family member, but not romantic enough for a significant other. 


These flowers come in many different colors including pink, red and white. 

Pink camellias symbolize longing. These would be gorgeous for a long-distance lover, or to send to someone you haven’t seen in a long time. Longing doesn’t have to be romantic, so don’t shy away from sending them to friends and family! 

Red camellias are more romantic than pink, and definitely should not be sent to a family member or friend. These flowers symbolize passion and desire. Giving a red camellia to someone means they ignite your heart! 

White camellias represent adoration, and giving them to someone is the equivalent for calling them adorable. These are not necessarily romantic, and could be appropriate to give a child. Although adorable is a complement, it’s not something most adults like to be called.


Carnations have a long history. Christian legend says that the Virgin Mary’s tears grew carnations as she watched Jesus on the cross. For this reason, the flowers symbolize motherly love. They would be beautiful to give to a mom for Valentine’s Day! 


There are many different types of chrysanthemums, but the red colored flower is what symbolizes love. These would be appropriate in a bouquet for a romantic partner or love interest! 


These are the flowers of true love! Although too small to amass an entire bouquet, they should be in any bouquets for a soulmate or life partner. Additionally, they symbolize being forever faithful to a person. These would be the perfect flower at a wedding, as well. 


These purple beauties are another flower perfect for a romantic partner or love interest. They symbolize love and devotion! These would not be an interesting bouquet on their own, but their bright purple could pair with many other romantic flowers to create a gorgeous floral arrangement. 


Roses are a classic Valentine’s flower, and they may seem too unoriginal. However, roses are traditional for a reason! They say “I love you” without words. They will also match the red that is featured on most Valentine’s Day gifts, which is a plus. A thornless red rose symbolizes love at first sight! 

Yellow Tulip

These are one of the flowers that have a specific phrase associated with them. Victorians believed that yellow tulips said “there is sunshine in your smile”, which is why they would be appropriate any day of the year, not just Valentine’s Day! These are another bloom that would be appropriate to give to a child or friend, as yellow tulips have no romantic connotation. 


Yarrows are small white flowers that wouldn’t make an entire bouquet, but are beautiful to place around other flowers. Yarrows mean love that lasts forever, and they are often used for healing purposes. There is another interpretation that calls yarrow a symbol of bravery. This is not the Victorian meaning, but it is associated with soldiers in war in some places. 


Zinnias would not be a suitable flower to give to a romantic partner because these vibrant flowers are associated with enduring friendship and goodness. These beautiful blooms would be perfect for a Galentine’s event! Traditionally, zinnias are a symbol of absent friends. Have a friend that you haven’t seen in a while? Send a zinnia! 

Here is an easy-to-view list to use while shopping! 

For a Romantic PartnerFor a ChildFor a FriendFor Family
Pink CamelliaChrysanthemum Forget-me-notHeliotrope RoseYarrowWhite CamelliaYellow TulipAsterPink CamelliaYellow TulipZinniaAster Pink CamelliaCarnation

In addition to the flowers of positive feelings and love, there are also flowers that can express hate. Since most people do not know the meaning of each flower, this is a great way to give someone you hate a gift without them knowing it’s a hate-gift. Here is a bouquet personally crafted by me to give to someone you strongly dislike! 

  • Borage- blunt and direct 
  • Yellow carnation- expresses rejection and disappointment 
  • Geranium- stupidity 
  • Lavender- distrust or untrustworthiness 
  • Orange Lily- hate and hatred 
  • Yellow Rose- a decreased love/ a loss of love
  • Tansy- the start of a war/ hostility 
  • Willow- sadness 

I am not claiming these will make a beautiful bouquet, because these flowers will most likely not look good together. However, what it lacks in attractiveness it will make up for in disdain. 

This Valentine’s Day, put in the extra mile and give a gift with meaning and thought. Flowers are beautiful no matter which variety they are, but the effort put into a bouquet is sure to wow the receiver. Whether they are for a parent, partner or pal, your Valentine will be struck by Cupid’s arrow the second they know what their flowers mean. 

Happy flower shopping! 

Sarah Owens

Ball State '25

I am a freshman at Ball State University majoring in Special Education and minoring in History. I love writing about fashion, current events, and pop culture!
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