The Language of Flowers in Regency Times




Have you ever wondered about the different meanings of flowers during the regency period?

During the regency era, courtships were the equivalent of modern-day dating. A young man would visit a young lady at her home, escort her on walks and promenades – always properly chaperoned, of course – and send her flowers after dancing together at a ball.

Even if they weren’t officially courting, it was not uncommon for a young man to express his interest by sending an elaborate bouquet. Many flowers were hothouse flowers (aka, grown in a greenhouse out of season) and were much more expensive.

Additionally, the flowers each had their own meanings. A young man could send a message to a young lady with the types and colors of flowers included in the bouquets.

Floriagraphy – messages within flowers – began to increase in popularity during the Regency era and continued through to the Victorian time period. Many books were published in the Victorian era to explain the meanings. Its popularity first began on the continent (i/e: France) and eventually spread to Great Britain.

One of the most popular books of the era is Language of Flowers by Kate Greenway published in 1884.

Below I’ve listed out the meanings of some of the more popular flowers. It’s fun to discover the variety of messages that could be conveyed!

Meanings of Roses

Roses themselves had individual meanings based on their colors and type.

Rose color meanings:

  • Red – passionate love
  • Pink – grace, sophistication, elegance. Also, the beginning of a relationship
  • Burgundy – simplicity, beauty
  • Yellow – jealousy, infidelity, decrease of love
  • Dark crimson – mourning
  • White – I am worthy of you

Rose variety meanings

  • Musk – you are charming
  • Damask – purity
  • Faded – beauty is fleeting
  • China – grace, lasting beauty
  • Dog/rugosa – pleasure mixed with pain
  • Provence – my heart is in flames

Meanings of Other Flowers

Here are some of the other common flowers that were given and their meanings, based on the book Language of Flowers by Kate Greenway published in 1884.

  • Daffodil – I regard you
  • Apple blossom – preference
  • Morning Glory – affection
  • Pansy – thoughtfulness
  • Daffodil – I regard you
  • Thistle – defiance
  • Columbine – folly
  • Primrose – consistency
  • Violet – faithfulness
  • Zinnia – absent friends
  • Daisy – innocence
  • Lily – purity
  • Myrtle – love and marriage
  • Holly – foresight
  • Azalea – temperance
  • Rhododendron – danger
  • Iris – message
  • Ivy – fidelity
  • Tulip – fame
  • Basil – hatred
  • Lavender – distrust
  • Marigold – sorrow

Sometimes these flowers would be combined with roses, which meant multiple meanings could be inferred with just one bouquet. You can imagine the kind of confusion that you could cause if you sent yellow roses mixed with violets!

What are your favorite flowers?

2 responses to “The Language of Flowers in Regency Times”

  1. cindie snyder Avatar
    cindie snyder

    Roses are my favorite! I love the colors and scents. This was a neat post! I never knew flowers had meanings!

    1. Tiffany Thomas Avatar
      Tiffany Thomas

      I didn’t at first, either! It’s really interesting! The book I mentioned has SO many different flowers; it’s incredible.

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