Language of Flowers & Fans

The Victorian Language of Flowers & Fans

During the Victorian era, flowers and pictures of flowers spoke a language all their own.  Blossoms, buds, and herbal bouquets were sent to friends and lovers not only for their beauty and fragrance, but also to convey messages -- sometimes messages that the sender dared not speak in words. 

Here are some of the meanings listed in Victorian "flower dictionaries"

Roses ~ Love, Faith, Secrets, Eternity
Red Rose ~ Romantic Love, Passion
Pink Rose ~ Admiration, Appreciation
White Rose ~ Innocence, Humility, Comfort
Yellow Rose ~ Friendship, Love for Friends
Pansies ~ Thoughts of You, Thoughtfulness
Violets ~ Modesty, Youth
Forget-me-nots ~ Remember me, Faithfullness
Iris ~ A Message
Purple Lilac ~ First emotions of love
Daisies ~ Innocence, I share your sentiments
Wild Daisy ~ I will think of it.
Cyclamen ~ Shyness
Daffodil ~ New Beginning, Rebirth, Truth
Sunflower ~ Opportunity, Happiness
Geranium ~ Comfort

Red Carnation ~ Alas for my poor heart
Pink Carnation ~ Gratitude, Thank You
Red Camellia ~ Excellence
Jasmine ~ Amiability, Friendship
Lily of the Valley ~ Return of Happiness
Day Lily ~ Coquetry, Flirtation
Red Poppies ~ Consolation
Dead leaves ~ Melancholy
Rosemary ~ Remembrance
Cedar ~ Strength
Sweet Basil ~ Best Wishes, Luck
Thyme ~ Courage
Ivy ~ Fidelity, Marriage
Sweet Pea ~ Sweetness, Pleasure
Camellia ~ Longing, Miss You
Zinnia ~ Thoughts of absent friends

A flower presented upside down would have the opposite meaning. 
A ribbon tied on the left meant the quality referred to the giver; tied to the right, it referred to the recipient.  Flowers in combination could convey complicated sentiments!


At parties, sometimes the hostess would decorate with assortments of flowers and plants, from which the guests would select those that expressed their thoughts and feelings. 
Use our beautiful flower images (or real flowers and herbs!) to send symbolic messages and greetings!

Lovers of flowers will please note our Lunagirl Victorian Flowers

featuring 900 printable images of Victorian roses & other flowers & plants.


A Victorian lady's fan could speak volumes as well, especially in a society in which certain sentiments were not properly spoken aloud between unmarried young men and women.  According to the Young Ladies Journal in 1872:

Fanning fast means I am independent.
Fanning slow means I am engaged.
Fan with right hand in front of face means Come closer, continue.
Fan with left hand in front of face means Leave me.
Fan open and shut ~ Kiss me!
Fan half open ~ Friendship
Fan twirling in right hand ~ I am watching you.
Resting fan on the right cheek means Yes.
Placing the fan behind your head means Don't forget me.
A fan drawn slowly across the cheek means ... I Love You.