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Rose Color Meanings

Meanings of Roses Based on Colors

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Red roses say

In the language of rose color meanings, red says "love."

David Beaulieu

When giving cut flowers as Valentine gifts, we adhere to a time-honored formula that takes into account rose color meanings. The formula matches a flower's color to its intended meaning as a gift. Valentine's Day is primarily a lovers' holiday, and red is traditionally reserved for lovers.

Red enjoys an iconic status, even though other colors have their place on the holiday. Our close family members may also be treated to red posies for Valentine's Day, but we avoid this color choice for friends on Valentine's Day -- that would simply convey the wrong meaning. The following are the meanings traditionally ascribed to the most popular roses, according to colors; use this list as a guide when selecting your Valentine's Day gift:

  • Red means romantic love (the Valentine's Day gift par excellence).

  • Purple, coral and orange challenge red as the color for Valentine's Day. The rose color meanings for these 3 are as follows:
    • The specific purpose of purple is to signify that the giver has fallen in love with the recipient at first sight.
    • Meanwhile, coral signals desire.
    • And orange, along with apricot, connotes enthusiasm.


  • The meaning of yellow is joy and friendship.

  • We express our gratitude and appreciation with pink....

  • While feelings of admiration and sympathy find words with roses that are light pink in color.

  • Peach is more ambiguous, as it can signify either sympathy or gratitude.

  • Its purity naturally enough lends to white the meaning of reverence and humility.

View my photo gallery to see some of the types of roses available, by color.

What about "black" roses (i.e., flowers that have been sprayed or dyed black at the florist shop)? Unless you're a "Goth" or are trying to be funny, I'd stay away from sending black: the interpretation is too iffy. In my article, What Black Roses Mean, which presents interesting facts about roses, I note that black's symbolism includes death-related themes.

But the formula for rose color meanings listed above will work for the other colors. Just follow the formula that matches the colors with the corresponding meanings, and you can't go wrong as a gift-giver.

If your loved ones are plant-lovers, consider buying them bushes (something they can plant outside later) for Valentine's Day, rather than cut flowers. Miniature bushes are often available at the local florist shop; once Valentine's Day arrives, spring flowers and spring planting can't be far behind. Are you apprehensive about planting these beautiful bushes because of their hard-to-grow reputation? My article on growing roses will allay your fears.

Here's another gift idea for Valentine's Day: a gift certificate for other plants with fragrant flowers. And for an early taste of spring, why not force some forsythia and use it to decorate your Valentine's Day table?

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