Traditionally, flowers do say it all

Valentine’s Day is over, but we can look back at what our gifts supposedly mean. First off, I don’t really buy into flower meanings. If you and your significant other like a particular species and color that’s all that matters. However, some traditionalists want to do things according to the etiquette rules.

Let’s start with roses, especially since that’s the flower we most associate with Valentine’s Day. Red roses are associated with love and passion. I don’t think that surprised many people. Yellow roses are associated with friendship and pinks supposedly indicate grace and sweetness, beauty, or secret love. As one might expect, white roses signify purity and innocence. Lavender roses mean love at first sight.

When you receive carnations, be cautious of the yellow and striped ones. They both indicate rejection and disappointment. Red is safe as are pink, which express undying love. Once again, white implies purity and good fortune.

Mums are another common species used by florists. In general, chrysanthemums signify cheerfulness and optimism. Specifically, if love is your goal, go with red. White might be a good choice for reconciliation, as it means truth and loyalty. Yellow suggests slighted love.

Daffodils are a pleasant exception to the yellow tendency. Yellow daffodils mean chivalry, love and respect. Tulips are another flower where color can’t steer you wrong. Nearly every hue denotes love and/or beauty. Remember that, guys.

My personal favorite flower is lilac. The purple ones are my most cherished. Their aroma brings back so many loving memories. According to flower gurus, lilacs proclaim love. How convenient.

Sometimes a living plant can make a great substitute for a flower arrangement. Ferns are popular and suggest confidence, fascination, magic and sincerity. We have plenty at our school greenhouse.

I’ve always liked red Anthuriums. According to several sources they are considered the little boy flower. They represent heart, hard work and hospitality.

Calla lilies look somewhat similar but are white instead of red. They suggest beauty and purity. You can’t go wrong with that.

I was surprised to learn that cacti were considered high on the love ladder. I always considered their sharp thorns adverse. Cacti signify bravery, endurance and maternal love. They also stand for riches and beauty, so don’t hesitate to give a loved one a cactus.

Some might wonder if any wildflowers blooming right now could make a good cheapskate gift and could we score some points at the same time? Yes, common camellias are blooming and usually come in white, pink and Red. All colors are supposed to draw positive vibes.

Buttercups and violets are blooming too. It might be difficult to construct a suitable bouquet, but sentiment is positive. Buttercups supposedly are rich in charms and cheerfulness. Violets symbolize love and faithfulness.

When you get right down to it, I don’t think anyone can go wrong with a gift of flowers or a live plant. Plants brighten up their surroundings. They can remind you of happy times and places. Furthermore, they won’t chew up your shoes or pee on the floor like a puppy.

This little cyclamen may look cheerful, but it signifies that all good things must come to an end.

This little cyclamen may look cheerful, but it signifies that all good things must come to an end.

Ted Manzer teaches agriculture at Northeastern High School (

About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I recently retired from teaching high school agriculture after 25 years teaching with my wife. Until recently I wrote a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper ( I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that can be purchased on Amazon in Kindle format. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone (presently out of print), a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death (this one is not yet published). In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books. I also wrote a romance novel titled Virginia. It is available on Amazon and is a different type of romance from a man's perspective.
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