Osceola County Historical Society Blog

Floriography or The Language of Flowers

Posted by Miranda Herbert Ferrara on Jul 12, 2018 8:00:00 AM

With the opening of our 1800s Replica Historic Church available for Weddings and Vow Renewals, we wanted to take a look into many common wedding traditions still performed.

Floriography or The Language of Flowers

Have you ever wondered why the Bride wears a white dress? Or why we eat a tiered wedding cake? Or why the Bride tosses her bouquet? Or why we host a bridal shower?


Where did these traditions come from? Why do we do them?


Join us for a multi-part mini-series as we uncover the history behind many common Wedding Traditions!



There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance …

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5


Floriography Explained


Did you know that for centuries, people worldwide have believed that flowers have certain properties, and by grouping different flowers together they can send a hidden message? This is called floriographyor The Language of Flowers.


Floriography gained popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria in the mid- to late-1800s when flower dictionaries became popular and homes would have books on the secret language of flowers. The first flower dictionary was published in France in 1819, and by 1879 books on flowers and their meanings were widely available in England and the United States.

Miss Wilson

Eleanor Randolph Wilson, wearing wedding gown and holding bouquet of flowers.

Miss Wilson married Mr. William Gibbs McAdoo on May 7, 1914.


Floriography allowed communication between people who might not otherwise have been able to meet face-to-face. By giving certain flowers to another, secret messages could be passed such as: “I love you,” or “I’m sorry.”


The Significance of Some Popular Flowers


Not all countries ascribe the same properties to each flower, and many flowers and herbs have been given special meanings. For our purposes, we will highlight North American flowers centering on love and weddings.


Flowers of Love


Forget-Me-Not: True love; memories

Gardenia: Secret love

Heliotrope: Eternal love

Red Chrysanthemum: I love you

Red Rose: Love; I Love You

Single Full Bloom Rose: I Love You

Yarrow: Everlasting love


Flowers with Wedding Messages


Dandelion: Faithfulness; happiness

Ivy: Wedded love; fidelity; affection

Peony: Happy life; happy marriage

Spider Flower: Elope with me

White rose: Purity; a new beginning, a fresh start.

Yellow rose: Joy; friendship; the promise of a new beginning


Where to Learn More


In addition to reading the articles in the References section, your florist should be able to help with what secret message you want your flowers to convey. Florists such as Business is Blooming, who donated all the flowers for the Osceola County Historical Society’s Dine with the Departed events in 2017 and 2018, are well versed in floriography and can help make your special day perfect.


An arrangement by Business is Blooming for the 2018 Dine with the Departed event. 

Because truly, even though dandelions send a message of faithfulness and happiness, there are better choices for your special day.

 Have a question about a Wedding or party tradition that you want answered? Are you interested in renting the many venues managed by the Osceola County Historical Society for weddings, meetings, parties or events?

E-mail Maggie Ferrara: maggie@osceolahistory.org or visit www.osceolahistory.org/event-venue-rentals for more information.


Making Your Story – History!




“Flower Related Information and Flower Links.” http://thelanguageofflowers.com/.

Greenaway, Kate. Language of Flowers. London; New York: F. Warne, [190-].

The Old Farmer’s Almanac. “Flower Meanings: The Language of Flowers: Learn The Symbolism of Flowers, Herbs, and Other Plants.” https://www.almanac.com/content/flower-meanings-language-flowers.

ProFlowers. “Floriography: The Language of Flowers in the Victorian Era.” https://www.proflowers.com/blog/floriography-language-flowers-victorian-era.

Texas A&M System, Texas AgriLife Extension Service. “The Language of Flowers.” https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/publications/flowers/flowers.html.

Photo Courtesy: 

Eleanor Randolph Wilson, wearing wedding gown and holding bouquet of flowers. Miss Wilson married Mr. William Gibbs McAdoo on May 7, 1914.

 Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Harris & Ewing, [reproduction number, LC-USZ62-131915]

Business is Blooming Centerpiece, Rachel McIntee

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Topics: Osceola County Historical Society, 1800s Historic Replica Church, Wedding Traditions, Flowers, Wedding Flowers, Business is Blooming

About this Blog

The Osceola County Historical Society is focused on preserving Osceola County’s rich, cultural history while sharing it with others. This blog is perfect for just that. 

Remember, here you can find information on:

  • Osceola County History
  • Pioneer Families
  • Events at the Welcome Center and History Museum
  • Much, much more!

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