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This Valentine’s Day, Put More Meaning Behind Your FlowersMaster Gardener Scoop – February 10, 2016

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This Valentine’s Day, Put More Meaning Behind Your Flowers

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By Will Summers,

Master Gardener

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and some people contemplate either giving or receiving flowers. People fail to realize that flower names have meanings and these names were not lightly bestowed. Flowers are thought to represent a symbol that conveys a meaning. Flower names are derived from many archaic sources such as Greek, Latin, German and English.

First, flowers rely on a genus and species name that places each in a separate identity according to not only its individual species but a whole lineage of family ties. Almost every plant also has its local common name bestowed it by where and how it may grow. Common names are not used in science due to their duplicate and frequently multiple uses for the same plants in different places. The following is a list of familiar flowers and symbolism they represent.

For Valentine’s Day roses are the most popular and convey an immediate meaning of love. However, red roses stand for passion, while white roses stand for purity, and yellow roses stand for eternal happiness.

Caladium stands for immense delight and joy. Carnations mean heartache. Chrysanthemum, a very popular potted plant, stands for happiness, joy and optimism. A crocus means good cheer, happiness and “do not treat me badly.”

Daffodil means “sunlight is bright when I am with you.” It implies the warmth of sunlight be upon you. Another name for daffodil is narcissus which means “stay as sweet as you are, formality.” This may be good for you, but do not give white narcissus, a closely related namesake, which means selfishness.

A forget-me-not says just what the name says: forget me not, memories, enduring love, always be with me, and true love.

There are many kinds of lilies, but the family generally means honor, purity and loyalty.

If you are looking for a future spouse, use orange blossoms. Orange blossoms convey eternal love, innocence and marriage with fruitfulness.

Phlox means harmony and a good partnership, while petunias mean “your presence soothes me, or anger, resentment.”

Pansies stand for merriment and thoughtful reflection.

Ivy is a foliage plant that stands for affection, a wedding, binding ties and fidelity forever. Ivy is usually an evergreen plant with clasping vines.

On a less floral side, oak stands for strength. This comes from Roman times. Sage confers great respect, wisdom and female fidelity.

Tulips have many meanings and generally mean fame or perfect lover. It is the flower of Holland. Yellow tulips mean hopeless love and “There’s sunshine in your smile.” On the other hand, red tulips are a declaration of love and “believe me,” while a variegated tulip implies beautiful eyes.

Violets stand for modesty; however there are other meanings also, such as white violets mean “Let’s take a chance,” and blue violets stand for love, faithfulness and watchfulness.

On the darker side, flowers may stand for less desirable sentiments. Foxglove is poisonous and has both positive and negative symbolic meanings. It can hurt as well as heal. Its symbolic meaning has also been associated with insincerity.

A dogwood flower means “I am indifferent to you.”

Geranium flowers mean stupidity and foolhardiness.

Marigolds have a not-so-sweet fragrance and convey an equally not-so-sweet meaning of sorrow, jealousy and various forms of sacred affection.

Oleander is a very poisonous, drought-tolerant shrub, and its meaning is “caution.”

Flowers convey a hidden message. These meanings come from searching literature, internet sources and folklore. Some meanings derive from superstition but also herbal and medicinal usage.

After reviewing all this, if you still can’t make up your mind, consider the Venus flytrap which means “caught at last!”

For more information regarding plant selection for any purpose, please contact your county Master Gardeners, the University of Illinois Extension Office or your local public library.