What Do Different Colors of Roses Mean?


Sitting around thinking of questions for the question game, I came across a question that’s bothered me for some time:

What do the different colors of roses mean?

I’d heard that there is a code based on the different colors of roses, but I had no idea what this code was, where it came from, or how it was used. It makes sense that different roses would mean different things, especially since there are so many different emotions that can be expressed through a gift of flowers, and so many different colors of rose.

I did a little bit of research, heading to nurseries that sell roses in my area, calling a florist friend, and finally hitting up Google for some in-depth online research. What I found out was really fascinating. The rose code is a real thing and has a long history.

First, rose colors and their meaning. Though people interpret rose colors and meanings differently, the basic code goes a little something like this:

Red roses traditionally stand for love and romance.
Yellow roses are traditional messages of friendship, warmth, and happiness.
White roses represent purity and innocence.
Pink roses represent grace and elegance and are a symbol of admiration.
Orange roses mean passion and excited romance.

So what circumstances lead to gifts of different colors of roses? Here’s a quick guide:

Give red roses to your lover.
Yellow roses are perfect for a friend who needs encouragement or as a congratulatory message.
White roses are traditional marriage flowers and flowers that say ‘congratulations.’
Pink roses are the rose of a secret admirer, especially when given in a bouquet of 13.
Orange roses are meant for young lovers or a pair of lovers involved in a passionate romance.

Though there are no hard and fast rules about what color of rose to give, it is a good idea to follow the guides above. You don’t want to send the wrong message when you spend the money to send flowers to a family member or loved one. If in doubt, stick with the color that the recipient likes and include a note that shares your actual feelings, whether it’s sympathy, love, or friendship.