Flowers Can Signify Words Yet Unexpressed. Here’s How.

by Robert Canning on December 31, 2021

Did you know the flowers you give as gifts are like little messages in a bottle? A Victorian woman would carry a small bouquet, called a tussie-mussie, to deliver a secret message. A kitschy tussie-mussie bouquet meant they were mad at you, while a plain tussie-mussie sprigged with ivy meant they were faithful and honest friends. A gardenia-studded tussie-mussie hinted at unvoiced love, while a fragrant sprig of clove pink meant they looked forward to something.

The meanings of flowers can enhance a narrative, as in Hamlet, when Ophelia laments, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember.” Leopold also used flowers to his advantage in Kate and Leopold when he gave Kate orange lilies as a sign of his esteem. 

When an author uses flowers as a symbol in their story, the reader has already been primed to interpret the flower through the lens of their experience. Relying upon the reader's preconceived notions of flowers can be very powerful in one's narrative.

Flowers Can Talk the Talk

The meaning of flowers does not necessarily apply to growing them: the needs of the plants and the colors they produce may be more important. But it can be fun to create a floral display or a bouquet of flowers when giving them as a gift.

Got the attitude of gratitude? Iris flowers are a great place to start, because they convey that a message is afoot. Afterwards, consider:

  • Amaranth - affection
  • Spearmint - warm feelings
  • White bellflowers (Campanula carpatica) - gratitude

Isn't that a fantastic example of how messages can be sent through the sheer power flowers? A card or note will just be fully optional after!

Flower Arrangements & Bouquets Will Go A Long Way Personalized

Sending love is pretty much tied to roses at this point, which simplifies the process of sending that message a whole lot more. The baby's breath that's mixed with your roses symbolizes everlasting love, while the ferns denote sincerity. The roses, though, mean love in its purest form. For a more personal touch, you can always add more details. Another flower that can be used when it comes to romantic emotions is tulips-still the red kind, of course. 

Not everyone is into grandiose or outright expression, and there's flowers for that too:

  • Jonquils - desire
  • Sunflowers (small) - adoration
  • Violets - 'thinking of you'

Even the Leaves Matter

Did you know that even leaves can "speak" for a person as well? Best wishes can be sent through the presence of basil. Should the sender be lucky enough to find a four-leaf clover, including that is pretty much asking the receiver to be their beloved. 

In a lot of ways, where the flowers and leaves go in an arrangement can also lead to certain implications. Left-leaning flowers represent the sender; right-leaning ones are for the receiver.


Many people may not know that flowers can be as good as messages written out or spoken out loud. They "speak" quite well in a number of ways, expressing love, desire, gratitude and more. An entire arrangement can be as good as a whole essay or detailed letter.

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