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The Powerful Truth About Expressing Love Through Plants

Updated on November 4, 2021
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna loves helping others take care of plants, both indoors and out. She wrote an orchid care booklet—a companion piece for workshops.


Love Through Plants

Living, blooming plants say, “I love you,” which is the honorable gesture to share with your sweetheart on an anniversary, special occasion, or to say those magical words because you want to make them feel loved.

Most people who send or receive a flowering plant are unaware of the traditions behind giving plants and the meanings attached to the gesture.

You begin with what you want to say to your intended. Are you indeed in love? Is the relationship fresh and blossoming? Is the relationship friendship with the hope of more? Your desire to say or express feelings and words to your intended by following these traditions.

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet."

Romeo and Juliet (2.2.45-7)

— William Shakespeare

Courtship in the Middle Ages

People have been expressing their love through plants since the Middle Ages. Courtship during these ancient times was highly restrictive. Outwardly affection was taboo, so the language of plants became quite an art of communication. Plants allowed couples to express themselves without being conspicuous.

Today, people are freer to express themselves openly in public. They can hold hands, hug, and kiss in a park or on a street corner.

Expressing one's true feelings with plants is not as common as it was in ancient times. The loving act is still done, but not as prevalent.

A woman would be overjoyed to receive a lasting gift like a flowering plant because she would nurture and care for the plant as if she were showing her love to the giver. In all, here is an opportunity to find out which flowering plant you can give to your loved one that expresses your true and honest feelings.

Medieval Feelings of Love

Be genuinely romantic, and take a medieval approach to show your love. For instance, on Valentine’s Day, give an orchid arrangement, violets, and ivy in a white ceramic bowl. Your message to your beloved says she is beautiful (orchid), that you are faithful (violets), that you want her above all else (ivy), and that you are passionate (white ceramic bowl). It is pretty potent stuff.

You can switch the orchid with a gardenia to say your love is secret but joyful. If you feel self-conscious, you can send flowering cyclamen instead. You are expressing your devotion and passion but are too shy to express your feelings openly.

Victorian Approach

Take a Victorian approach. You can give a miniature rose to show your love. Choose a red miniature rose to say, “I Love You.“ Adding ivy to the miniature rose, you are saying, “I love you above all else.”

In my article at Dengarden, I write about the history of orchids. I share the idea that rather than send your sweetheart red roses, why not send red tulips with a white orchid as a living arrangement to say, “You are beautiful. Trust me. I love you.”

Heart Shape Plants

"The Flower with a Heart" is named by the Hawaiians. In my article, Anthurium: The With a Heart, I write about how to care for the plant and give an anthurium as a gift on Valentine's Day, which means the lasting deep red heart shapes offer your all-consuming love and obsession.

If you think you need restraining, present a white, lavender, or pink anthurium. The heart shapes of the tropical plant say "love" no matter which color you choose.

If you want to offer a flaming red plant, but not as hot in meaning, you can cool it down by placing the heart-shaped gift in a reddish-orange plant container. You are saying to the intended, "pleasure, desire and above all, a yearning for action."

"Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words. They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of the character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning."

— Lydia M. Child

Relationship Quotes Budding

Jasmine is a fragrance plant you can give to a friend because it expresses friendship. If your relationship is just budding and you are not sure where the courtship will lead, you can offer an azalea saying, “Let’s not go too fast. Let’s restrain ourselves.” Place the azalea in a light pink ceramic bowl adding, “But, I feel joy and gladness.”

Fond Memories

Like the anthurium, there is no intended meaning for the rainforest plant called bromeliad, but its cousin, the pineapple means, "fond memories."

In my article, Poinsettias and Bromeliads Plant Care, you learn about the plant's bright colors and how to care for the plant.

Perhaps the sturdy and inflorescence plant of red, orange, yellow, or pink colors express the enduring love that will continue forever.

How well do you know the meaning of flowering plants?

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Flowering Plant Gift

When you decide to send a flowering plant to someone you love, you have some options to consider. You can make your choice based on the traditions of giving plants and the meanings attached to them.

Take a moment to reflect on your intended message to the one you love. What are you trying to say? What is the purpose of giving a flowering plant? Questions like these will help you display your message that will last and last because the receiver will see the plant every day, caring and nurturing it for the love it symbolizes.

© 2018 Kenna McHugh


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