Rose Colour Meanings

Floriography is the language of flowers, which has been practised in traditional cultures throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. Interest soared in Victorian England when Lady Mary Wortley, an English poet and aristocrat wrote a letter expounding on the “Secret Language of Flowers” that she had discovered in Turkey. In a letter to a friend, Lady Wortley writes;

There is no colour, no flower, no weed, no fruit, herb, pebble, or feather that has not a verse belonging to it: and you may quarrel, reproach, or send letters of passion, friendship, or civility, or even of news, without ever inking your fingers”. Over the course of the century, the rumors became interest, and then practice. Until, by the early 19th century, the development of a formalized Language of Flowers had occurred. This took the form of a dictionary of symbolic meanings assigned to individual flowers, which thus became generally known to society as a method of silent communication.

Roses are an ancient flowering plant of the genus Rosa native to Asia, Europe and North America. Their popularity as a garden plant as well as a cut flower makes roses one of the most recognised flowers. Rose breeders have created thousands of cultivars in a rainbow of colours, but the red rose continues to be the most well-known for its association with love and romance. The origins of red roses and love date back to Greek mythology and Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty. Legend claims that when Aphrodite’s lover Adonis was felled by a wild boar, a mixture of his blood and her tears resulted in a red grew.

White has always been a symbol of purity and innocence. Brides traditionally wear white, which traces its origins more than 2,000 years ago, when brides wore a white tunic. White roses are frequently used in wedding bouquets, where they too symbolise love, purity and innocence.

In some circumstances the meaning of a coloured rose changes, during Victorian times, the yellow rose represented jealousy, dying love and infidelity but now symbolises friendship.

Rose colours and their meanings

Red Romance, beauty, love and passion Red rose
White Love, purity and innocence White rose
Pale pink Grace, gentleness, thankfulness and joy Pale pink rose
Dark pink Gratitude Pink rose
Yellow Friendship Yellow rose
Orange Love, passion and desire Orange rose
Purple Royalty, success and elegance Purple rose
Lilac Unique love Lilac rose
Cream Charm and thoughtfulness Cream rose
Peach Sincerity, gratitude and sweetness Peach rose
Coral Enthusiasm and desire Coral rose
Green Life, growth and abundance Green rose


Rose colours infographic

Rose colours infographic