Why Do We Give Flowers? The History Of Flowers

Giving flowers has been a customary tradition dating back hundreds of years, but why do we really give flowers? Here's the interesting history of flowers.

The giving of flowers is an ancient, worldwide tradition - one which is not exclusive to any one country or culture. From the United States to Europe to Asia, flowers have been changing hands for many thousands of years.

We're all very familiar with the popular displays of affection that may accompany a bundle of blooms: love, apology, happy birthday, or an expression of sorrow. We send flowers to the hospital to wish someone quick healing, and sometimes we send "surprise" flowers, just because. These are common expressions in modern times, but the gesture of presenting flowers has been in existence as long as humankind.

Read on to learn more about the history of flowers and how they became such an important part of today's culture.

Ancient History of Flowers

Ancient civilizations in Europe and the Far East gave flowers - we know this through archaeological findings (artifacts, drawings, etc.). In fact, Ancient Egyptians decorated their homes with flowers as long ago as 2,500 BCE! In many instances, these flowers were part of a burial ritual and meant to keep away bad spirits.

In Greek mythology, certain types of flowers represented specific emotions. For example, Persephone carried a bouquet of irises, and laurel was sacred to the god Apollo.

Some drawings depict that certain gods and goddesses wore floral crowns, leading us to believe that flowers were a symbol of honor. These crowns were also given as a reward for athletic prowess or other achievements. In addition to flowers, these crowns consisted of leaves like laurel or ivy. In recent years, flower crowns have been a popular fashion choice for young women; styled with an elastic band and faux flowers and worn around the head. How many of us realize that this trend has a very long tradition behind it?

Modern History

In more recent historical periods, for example, Victorian England, the direct expression of feelings through words was frowned upon. For this reason, flower-giving in Victorian England was a very popular alternative. The Victorians even made a "game" of flower-giving: in some instances, very complex messages were "coded" into bouquets, leaving the recipient to decode the meaning of their flowers! Who knew the history of flowers could be so fun?

A number of books and guides were written in the 19th century to discuss flower symbology, including the proper arrangement and combination of flowers to demonstrate complex feelings (like unrequited love, or a hopeful grief.) Specific meaning could be derived not just from the type of flower or its color, but the size of the bloom, whether it was fully or partially bloomed, and even the manner in which it was presented. For example, if the bloom was upside down.

In Today's Culture

It's clear that the tradition of giving flowers has stood the test of time. Despite this, some traditions have wilted in their age - for example, most of us no longer try to deter bad spirits with flowers.

With today's methods of communication - texts, instant message, voicemail, etc. - we often seek ways to go above and beyond. We all want to deliver a unique and special message, and this sentiment extended to our ancestors, as well.

We even use flowers for unique decorative ways. For example, it seems silly that a flower girl would toss petals on the aisle at a wedding, but history shows us that this tradition has existed since Roman times when young girls would toss petals at weddings to represent fertility.

The tradition of flower-giving continues to be strong and we can expect that many hundreds of years from now, people will still be delivering flowers to one another to communicate the feelings that words simply can't communicate.

Meaning of Flowers

It would take far too long to list every flower and its meaning, but here are just a few examples of the expressions that may be associated with certain flowers or colors.

Red roses

Easily the most well-known of all flowers in our culture, red roses represent love. Often, the number of flower blooms is symbolic, too - perhaps the number of years married or the date on which a couple tied the knot.

Yellow flowers

The color yellow (daffodils, tulips) represents friendship. It's a warm, energizing color, the perfect choice to express happy feelings between new or old friends.

White or purple

White or purple flowers represents peace and hope, and are often given during times of sorrow. For example, during funerals, it is very common to see spreads of white lilies or nosegays.


Carnations represent pride and beauty. This may be an ideal flower option for a young woman who has just achieved something important in her life, or if she needs a special reminder that beauty comes from the inside.


Looking back at the history of flowers, the daisy has stood the test of time as symbolic of innocence and purity.

Orange lily

Lilies are one of the more popular, exotic-looking blooms. An orange lily, specifically, represents passion: it gives the appearance of fire, showing that passion runs hot!

Queen Anne's lace

This tradition arose long ago and Queen Anne's lace represents safety and sanctuary. Perhaps this is because lace represents a "net" or protection.

Purple Hyacinth

Make a mistake? This may be a good pick for you - this bloom begs forgiveness.


Most of us are familiar with chamomile only as a tea, but it's actually a flower. Since the 19th century, this has held a tradition of being given when the recipient is facing some kind of adversity.

What Can A Bloom Express For You?

If you're looking to share a bouquet or bundle of blooms with someone you care about, look no further: we can help you find that perfect choice to express whatever it is you're trying to say.

The best part? You're not alone: the history of flowers is a long-standing one, and when you choose a color or bloom for a specific reason, you'll be taking part of one of the history's most intriguing and heartfelt traditions. Contact us today to find that meaningful expression for your loved one!