The language of flowers

Two huge flower events have occurred since Christmas: the Rose Parade and Valentine's Day. According to the Web site, every single Rose Parade float is decorated with more flowers than the average florist will use in five years. More than 150,000 flowers were used to make just three floats decorated by Charisma Designs. With 47 floats in the 2008 parade, one could estimate that over 2.4 million flowers and vegetative stems were used.

According to the Environmental News Network, the United States imports 60 to 80 percent of all its cut flowers, with 90 percent of the roses for Valentine's Day being imported from Ecuador and Colombia at a $300 million wholesale value. That's a lot of roses. The cut flower industry is huge at this time of year, with a lot of flowers grown, shipped, arranged and sold for these two events.

For those of us on the giving and receiving ends, understanding the demand explains the higher costs for flowers at this time of year. But, if you gave or received roses as a sign of love and esteem this Valentine's, did you know about the language of flowers? When you give someone roses, the flower of love, the color also has a meaning. Red means love and respect. Deep pink says you are grateful and appreciative. Light pink speaks of your admiration or sympathy. When you revere someone, or feel humility around them, send white roses. To express your joy and gladness, give yellow roses. But, if you are enthusiastic and filled with desire, orange will best tell your story. A red and yellow blend in a rose suggests gaiety and joviality. Pale blended tones represent friendship.

Other flowers speak out as well. Anthuriums say, "Let's be sweethearts." Red carnations tell of admiration, whereas white ones say either, "good luck," or, "I ardently love you." Pink carnations speak of a mother's love.

Daisies mean innocence and loyal love. Gardenias reveal a secret love. Irises convey a message of faith, hope, wisdom or power. Orchids proclaim, "You are magnificent!" Mums are cheerful and optimistic. When your love doesn't understand you, and you are desperate, present snapdragons. To say good-bye, a bouquet of sweet peas should do the trick.

The only problem I see with this language of flowers is that few people speak it. Most of us are simply thrilled to receive flowers from our spouses. Without a floral dictionary, I will simply believe that all flowers mean, "I love you."

For more information on gardening, contact me, 887-2252 or, or your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at "Ask a Master Gardener" by e-mailing

-- JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension Educator for University of

Nevada Cooperative Extension.


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