Roses and Their Colour Meanings
Roses are universally known for symbolising love and romance with red being the most popular choice for giving to a loved one. However there is still a whole rainbow of colours that roses come in, each with their own symbolism and meaning. Today I will discuss some of these roses and their colour meanings so that next time a special occasion comes up, you’ll know exactly what colour rose to give to who!
Red is one of the most common and popular rose colours. The red rose is a symbol of beauty, passion, desire, and romantic love. The red rose was originally associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. According to myth, when her lover, Adonis, was wounded, Aphrodite pricked her foot on the thorns of a white rose in her hurry to run to him. Her blood stained the roses red, turning the red rose into a symbol of incredible passion and romantic devotion. Legend also has it that Cleopatra seduced Mark Antony in a room fully covered in red rose petals.
A dozen red roses boldly declares, “I love you,” while a single red rose communicates devotion and loyalty.
Beyond their more passionate connotation, red roses are often used outside of romantic contexts to convey congratulations or gratitude.
Red roses are very popular flowers for Valentine’s day. However, because of the increased demand, rose prices go up dramatically around this time, and you may be getting lower-quality roses. Additionally, they are somewhat of a Valentine’s day cliche, which may come across as fairly unoriginal. So unless you know the recipient has their heart set on red roses, consider another flower for this holiday and save red roses for another (romantic) time. For example, anniversaries or birthdays with a significant other.
Red roses also often appear in bridal bouquets because of their connotation of a love that is both everlasting and passionate.
Finally, you might give red roses for non-romantic reasons. They are popular flowers for giving to someone after a performance; you often see bouquets of red roses or single flowers thrown onstage after ballet or opera performances. So you might give red roses to someone who has just done a stage performance of some kind or completed a big accomplishment like a graduation or major work project. Red roses can also be deployed to thank someone who has done something meaningful for you.
Context is everything—think about how your gesture of red roses will be interpreted under the circumstances!
White roses have a variety of symbolic associations. In Greek myth, Aphrodite was born from the foam of the sea. Greek poet Anacreon wrote that the sea foam that dripped from her body after she emerged from the ocean turned into white roses. In the Christian tradition, the white rose is associated with the Virgin Mary.
Perhaps because of its association with these two fairly different figures, white rose symbolism is somewhat broad. Possibly because of its connection to the Virgin Mary, it bears a meaning of innocence, chastity, and purity. It’s also associated with spirituality, reverence, and new beginnings.
In Victorian tradition, the deeper the rose color, the deeper the passion—so a white rose was most appropriate for a young girl or woman who has not yet felt a deep and passionate love. Somewhat contradictorily, the white rose also symbolizes a soul-deep love and can represent marriage.
Because of its associations with purity, spirituality, and new beginnings, the white rose is an appropriate funeral flower.
However, it’s also a common wedding flower due to its association with marriage and deep love. Cream roses are considered particularly bridal.
White roses are also appropriate for religious occasions like baptisms and confirmations.
The yellow rose has experienced a significant shift in meaning over time. In the Victorian era, the yellow rose signified jealousy and accused the recipient of infidelity. Not exactly a very happy message!
However, in the present day, the yellow rose most commonly means friendship—and specifically platonic friendship. Sending yellow roses to someone you may have romantic interest in, then, may not be the best move as it could signal that you are only interested in friendship with that person.
For someone you are friends with, the yellow rose sends a message of cheer, joy, caring, and platonic affection.
The yellow rose is an excellent congratulatory rose for a happy occasion. A new baby or an engagement are great reasons to send someone yellow roses. You might also send them to thank a friend for their support or help.
Lastly, yellow roses are a good choice for someone who needs a pick-me-up—perhaps in a “Get Well Soon” bouquet.
Pink roses have a pretty broad range of symbolic associations. In general, pink roses symbolize admiration, gentleness, dignity, elegance, innocence, and happiness.
Different shades of pink can convey different shades of meaning. Paler pink roses signify grace and sweetness. Deeper pink roses convey gratitude.
Pink roses are very versatile. They can convey either a romantic or platonic message. Pale pink roses are a good choice for the beginning of a romance, when red roses may come off somewhat strongly. You can also send pink roses to a friend to congratulate or cheer them.
Deeper pink roses are especially well-suited as a thank you gift. Pink roses are also appropriate for a girl or young woman, especially to convey congratulations or to commemorate a milestone.
Fiery orange roses send a strong message of fascination, passion, enthusiasm, attraction, and desire. Coral roses in particular signify desire.
Orange roses convey a meaning that is primarily romantic in nature. Thus, they are best for romantic occasions. They can be a slightly unusual but appropriate choice for Valentine’s Day and anniversaries. They might also make a striking wedding flower in the right color scheme!
Peach roses communicate sincerity and gratitude. They can also mark the closing of a deal or agreement. They have an alternative meaning of sympathy. Pale peach roses mean modesty.
Peach roses are a very appropriate thank-you gift.
Additionally, they are a good choice for a sympathy bouquet to someone who has just lost a loved one.
With their meaning of modesty, pale peach roses can also make a very pretty component of a bouquet that communicates admiration—perhaps a bouquet of peach and pink roses together. This would also make a very pretty wedding flower combination and color palette.
- Red: Passion, love, desire. For romantic occasions.
- White: Innocence, purity, spirituality, new beginnings. Best for spiritual events, weddings, and funerals.
- Yellow: Platonic friendship. To cheer or congratulate a close friend.
- Pink: Pink roses primarily mean admiration, elegance, innocence, and gratitude. Very versatile; can be used for almost any occasion where flowers are appropriate.
- Orange: Desire, fascination, passion. For romantic occasions.
- Peach: Sincerity, gratitude, sympathy. Send as a thank-you or to someone in mourning.