Before you profess true love to your special someone with a bouquet of yellow roses, hold up! Your actions may mean one thing, but the flowers are saying another. And trust me, there are a lot of rose varieties out there to potentially make the incorrect decision.
Send the right message – and save yourself the embarrassment – with our guide on deciphering roses’ hidden meanings and symbolism.
No flower is more iconic than the red rose. If you’re planning to show how much you love someone, there’s no better bloom to convey your message than red long-stemmed roses. The Hybrid Tea rose has a broad spectrum of red cultivars to choose from, from plain Crayola-red to orange-red varieties.
Red rose meaning: deep passion, true love
White roses are quite tricky because they can communicate a range of meanings and symbolism.
Because white roses look clean and pristine, they tend to signify innocence and ‘a heart unacquainted with love’. If you’re planning on giving these roses to your significant other of many years, you may have to think twice about it.
White is also associated with spirituality. With this in mind, these roses may not be the most romantic flowers to give to your beloved, unless they’re included in a bridal bouquet. White flowers are traditionally used in wedding ceremonies, as white represents marriage and new beginnings.
In some cultures, however, white is also the colour of choice during wakes and funerals because of its sombre tone. You wouldn’t want to come across as morbid, would you?
White rose meaning: marriage, spirituality, innocence, new beginnings, death
To the untrained eye, white, cream, ivory, and vanilla can all look the same. But look closer and you’ll notice that cream roses look warmer and more inviting than their stark white counterparts. Unlike white roses that can send mixed messages, cream roses symbolise charm and thoughtfulness.
Cream rose meaning: charm, thoughtfulness
Yellow roses are a polarising topic: some say that these flowers represent jealousy and infidelity, while the others assert that these roses’ sunny colour brings cheer and celebrates friendship. Which side are you on?
Yellow rose meaning: friendship, cheer, jealousy, infidelity
Pink is the best rose colour to pick when you’re looking to show your admiration to someone who exemplifies grace and elegance.
Pink rose meaning: grace, elegance, femininity
The salmon colour is at the cusp between peach and pink. With a hue that can sashay between platonic and romantic, salmon roses are perfect for budding relationships.
Salmon roses: budding romantic relationships
A slight shift in the colour wheel can instantly sway the meaning you’re trying to convey. Coral roses are neither salmon nor orange in colour, although these three hues can seem identical at first glance. Before you give coral roses to a purely platonic friend, ask yourself if ‘desire’ is the message you’re really trying to say.
Coral rose meaning: desire
Accompany your handwritten thank-you notes with peach roses. These flowers send a message of gratitude and appreciation, as well as sincerity.
Peach rose meaning: sincerity, gratitude, appreciation
There’s no mistaking the message when you’re a bouquet of lavender roses. These dainty blooms mean one thing, and one thing only: love at first sight! Lavender roses, which appear in spring, are synonymous with fascination and adoration. Give these blooms to the apple of your eye to express how you feel visually.
Lavender rose meaning: love at first sight, fascination, adoration
Violet roses are different from lilac or lavender roses. These deep purple blooms symbolise royalty, and are perfect to give to the person you regard highly.
Violet rose meaning: royalty
Burgundy roses are darker and more mysterious-looking than red roses. These wine-coloured roses are best given to the unassuming belle you admire, as the burgundy rose colour signifies ‘unconscious beauty’.
Burgundy rose meaning: unconscious beauty
Do you want to give someone some pep and cheer through flowers? Orange roses will do just that. These energetic-looking blooms represent enthusiasm and passion, perfect for the active go-getter friend in your life.
Orange rose meaning: enthusiasm, passion, energy
Yellow roses with red tips
Red roses may be the reigning queen when it comes to celebrating romance and love, but yellow roses with red tips are now gaining popularity in this territory as well. How can they not, when their glowing golden yellow and crimson petals symbolise falling in love?
These captivating blooms can say eloquently what you’ve been meaning to tell that close friend of yours for the longest time – that you’re ready to take your friendship to the next level. Ask your florist for the ‘Betty Boop’ rose to get this colour scheme, or go for other equally stunning bi-coloured Floribunda varieties if you’re feeling adventurous.
Yellow rose with red tips meaning: falling in love
Red and white roses
Take care when giving a bouquet of red and white roses. They don’t necessarily convey the meanings of white and red roses individually. Instead, red and white roses are popularly thought to represent unity.
Red and white roses meaning: unity
Believe it or not, green roses do exist, but they’re extremely rare! White roses can also be dyed to achieve the shade of green you want.
Whether their colour is natural or artificial, green roses are a great choice for that couple who recently moved to a new home. A bouquet of this colour can also mean celebration of new life or wishing someone good luck. Because green roses also represent health, sending some to a sick friend is like saying ‘Get well soon!’.
Green rose meaning: good luck, new life, good health
Although rainbow roses are artificially dyed, they’re just as interesting. They may be a floral political statement, or represent the desire to break barriers. Some may find a rainbow rose flower to look too unnatural, but there are rose lovers who see its wild colour scheme as liberating and creative.
Rainbow rose meaning: breaking barriers, creativity
Try as they might, horticulturists have yet to achieve a pure sapphire blue rose naturally. In the meantime, most blue roses are made by dipping white roses in blue or indigo dye. Because these roses undergo a tedious process to get the desired hue, blue roses are seen to represent mystery. They have also become associated with intrigue. Some also interpret the lengths that a giver goes through to get a blue rose as devotion.
Blue rose meaning: mystery, intrigue, devotion
There’s a reverse psychology going on with white and black roses, as this dark rose colour can signify rebirth and new beginnings. Stark black roses don’t exist naturally, though – you may need to request an artificially dyed bloom from your florist, or look for a deep burgundy rose as a substitute.
Black rose meaning: rebirth, new beginnings
Other tips for picking the perfect rose
A dazzling bouquet of roses starts with the right flower source. If you’re picking roses from your own garden, make sure that each long-stemmed bloom looks healthy and free from any fungal disease (a sickly rose can cost you a ‘budding’ romantic relationship). A regular pruning and trimming will work wonders to keep your rose bushes robust and disease-free.
At the end of the day, the language of roses is best spoken with a sincere intent. Whether you prefer to follow tradition and or throw away the rule book, there’s no mistaking that a story narrated through roses will always have an epic ending.