The Meaning Of The Color Of Roses

Meaning Of The Color Of Roses

‘The rose is the flower of love–the world has acclaimed it so for centuries. The pink roses are love hopeful and expectant–the white roses are love dead or forsaken–but the red roses–ah, Leslie, what are the red roses?’ ‘Love triumphant,’ said Leslie in a low voice.” ~Anne’s House of Dreams by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Flowers, especially roses, are used to convey the many emotions we have for each other. Be it “I love you” or “I’m sorry,” sending roses is the perfect way to give someone a lift as well as send a message that you may be reluctant to say. How simple and wonderful to be able to say, “Thanks so much!” by simply picking up the phone and ordering a dozen yellow roses.

So where and when did the color meaning of rose originate? Jack Goody, in his book ‘The Culture of Flowers’, says that giving meanings to flowers originally came from the East and while meaning can be highly subjective some are universally accepted. Also called floriography, the art of speaking with flowers originated in Persia where illiterate women of the Ottoman seraglios used flowers to communicate, as written language was forbidden.

The tradition of using flowers as an expression then traveled to Europe and was used to impart feelings of High Society or Ton in Regency England. Though the exact meanings are lost to us for all the different flowers and colors, we still use the rose to get our emotions across to the recipient. “The single rose is, in essence, a symbol of completion, of consummate achievement and perfection”, says J. E. Cirlot in his ‘A Dictionary of Symbols’. Be it red, white or yellow, roses convey so much alone or in a bunch, or matched with other, complementary flowers. If you learn a bit about the “floriography” of the different colors of roses you can understand their true meaning and the color you choose can add special meaning to your gift.

The Meaning Of The Color Of Roses - White Roses

White Roses
Purity, Secrecy, Innocence, Reverence, Worthiness

One of the oldest varieties of rose, Rosa Alba or the white rose has been a favorite of all civilizations, ancient and modern alike. White roses symbolize purity and innocence. Brides traditionally wear white and the Pope wears white on holy days. The white rose is the perfect emblem of innocence, loyalty and purity that comes in many different shades and nuances – 20 that are easily accessible. From almost pure white to shades of ivory, white roses are the perfect choice for bridal bouquets, corsages and dramatic arrangements.

White roses are often used in bridal ceremonies because of the wholesomeness and virtue these flowers bring to mind. For use in bridal arrangements, try Escimo, a small, almost pure white rose that is very delicate in appearance and opens beautifully. Bianca is another almost pure white rose that’s sure to please any bride. This medium sized beauty has rounded buds that fill out a bouquet with style and flair. If you like a fuller petal in a rose then Vendela is a perfect choice. This medium-sized rose is a gorgeous ivory color that is sure to stun viewers.

The Meaning Of The Color Of Roses - Red Rose

Red Roses
Love, Respect, Courage, Passion, Well Done, Congratulations

Red roses immediately bring to mind passion and true love. A single red rose signifies “I love you” and has been made even more popular these days with the success of TV shows like “The Bachelor”, where each chosen lady is given a single, long-stemmed rose to show the star’s appreciation and growing passion toward her.

Red roses can also convey thoughts of courage and congratulations. The “Run for the Roses” is the symbolic name for the first race of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. Held in Lexington, Kentucky at Churchill Downs, the race rewards the triumphant young racehorse with a blanket of gorgeous red roses.

Popular varieties include the scarlet red Kardinal, the dark red and very fragrant Mr. Lincoln, and the deep red tea rose Madame Delbard, which has been brought back due to popularity. Cara Mia is another deep red favorite of floral designers.

The Meaning Of The Color Of Roses - Pink Rose

Pink Roses
Happiness, Elegance, Romance, Admiration, Sweetness, Thank You

Ranging from a subtle hint of color to deep and bright, pink roses have come to mean joy, happiness, gratitude and admiration. They’re often seen in bridal arrangements, thank you or congratulations bouquets. Considering the word “rose” brings to mind the faint blush of a fair maiden’s cheeks, it’s not surprising these blooms are a favorite to give and receive.

There are many different variations of pink, from a pale blush to a gentle medium pink to a vibrant pink, each having its own meaning and implication. The palest pink roses are a sign of gentleness, joy and grace. Bridal Pink is a perfect pale pink floribunda rose that is long lasting and offers a spicy scent. The light to medium pink roses can show sympathy or admiration. Lady Diana is a beautiful light pink rose perfect for either emotion. Deep pink roses, such as Laser and Diplomat are perfect choices to show someone how grateful you are to have them in your life.
The Meaning Of The Color Of Roses

Yellow Roses
Friendship, Caring, Welcome or Welcome Back, Joy

In German culture these beauties are a symbol of infidelity and dying love, but more traditionally they’re a symbol of friendship and happiness. Rose Magazine states that yellow roses, though actually an ancient flower as shown through fossil evidence, weren’t prevalent until discovered in the Middle East in the 1700s. Since then it’s been a popular favorite in gardens and bouquets alike.

Although the song, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” popularized the flower in that state, it’s interesting to note the flower isn’t the official State Flower – that honor goes to the Bluebonnet. Nor is the song about a rose – it’s about a woman named Emily West Morgan.

However, there was a yellow rose grown at the time of the song’s creation called Harrison’s Yellow. The yellow rose became famous because the song was often sung at battle.

Send some of these golden beauties to a sick friend and watch the recipient perk right up! They are also perfect for new mothers, someone newly engaged or as a colorful thank you. Some gorgeous yellow roses to consider sending are the lightly fragrant and deep yellow Gold Strike, the long-lasting favorite Aalsmeer Gold. For very special friends consider the spray rose Rhumba, with five yellow-fringed-with-orange blossoms on each stem.

Roses in Hues of Orange

Orange, coral and peach are closely related colors, with orange being the more vivid and coral and peach being subtler, a perfect contrast for emotions that range on both ends of the scale. Meaning desire and fascination, the various hues of orange, coral and peach lend myriad nuances to the language of flowers. All make a great gift for a friend to say “Congratulations!” or a lover to show your desire and affection.

Orange Roses
Desire, Enthusiasm, Pride

Just as the red rose means passion and the yellow rose means friendship, orange roses often mean a cross-over between these two emotions. Orange roses are vibrant, cheerful and express fascination when you give them to someone. Who wouldn’t be fascinated with these alluring, fiery blooms? They come in all the colors of a romantic and enthralling sunset. Whether it’s the brilliant orange of Lambredo, the vermillion orange of the long-stemmed Fire King or the pale apricot of Pareo, orange roses are sure to please anyone who captivates you.

The Meaning Of The Color Of Roses- Peach Rose

Coral Roses
Desire, Enthusiasm, Happiness

Just as a sunrise varies in intensity, coral is the dusky, subtle orange that graces the sky at first light. The coral rose still speaks of desire but also of happiness and would be a perfect “thank you” gift, or a great way to remind someone that you still desire him or her. Some popular coral roses are Sonic, the peach coral mix of Harmony.

Peach Roses
Appreciation, Sincerity, Gratitude, Modesty

Peach roses are often sent as gesture of appreciation or gratitude rather than as a token of love. Their gentle yet pleasing color can also be sent as an expression of sympathy. These subtle, gorgeous blooms are ideal to say “thanks!” or to show how much you miss a dear friend. Choose from the palest peach of Champagne; the spray rose Porcelina, with up to five stunning peach blooms on each stem; and the deeper peach of the flawless Orsiana.

The Meaning Of The Color Of Roses - Lavender Rose
Lavender Roses

Probably the most mystical and fairy-tale perfect color of rose is lavender. It is said if someone gives you a purple rose it means they fell in love with you at first sight, just like Cinderella’s Prince Charming!

It’s interesting as well to note that purple is a royal color, so sending a single purple rose means you find her majestic, opulent and special. If you are seeking to voice your deepest love and admiration for someone consider sending the dynamic Blue Curiosa or the blend of colors in Lavender Duet.

Blue Roses

The quest for a blue rose continues, since they are merely a fabrication of the eager, dreaming mind at this point. The blue roses that exist are actually variations of purple or lavender, which look blue in certain light. However, you wouldn’t really want to send a blue rose to someone, as it means a figment of the imagination, or something unobtainable. If you like blue roses just because they are different, consider the decadent Blue Moon hybrid tea rose.

The Meaning Of The Color Of Roses - Black Rose

Black Roses

Though true black roses don’t exist, blooms that are the darkest red can look black. Giving someone black roses would mean the death of a relationship or idea. Some, however, suggest that black roses could symbolize rebirth or the beginning of something new. If these unique dark blooms interest you or would thrill a loved one, consider choosing the mysterious and beautiful Black Magic rose for your next arrangement.

Expressing Yourself With Color

Now that you know a little more about the colorful language of flowers, consider using a gorgeous rose bouquet to express your message with an added depth of meaning. Whether you’re feeling the passion of a red rose or the subtle desire of a peach rose, this timeless method of communication is sure to please the recipient. Be it a single stem or a vase full of roses, these colorful, beautiful blooms are enough to make anyone want to take a moment to stop and smell the roses.

P.S. To help you match the meaning to your message we’ve put together a list of sentiments to give you ideas for the message you include on the gift card. Find A Gift Message To Match The Meaning Of The Color Of Roses


  1. Arthur Ventham says

    One of my white iceberg roses came into bloom and exactly half of the flower is white and the other half is burgundy. How did this happen? It looks as if someone has drawn a line across the flower and painted one side white and the other side burgundy.

    • The Queen of Hearts is in your garden, sir.

    • It has to do with the genetics of the flower. Somehow somewhere there was cross breeding between most likely red roses and white roses and where it most likely won’t show up in the earlier flowers the option for both are still there and apparently both became a domanant trait. Therefore both showed up in the flower

  2. Kate Smith says

    That sounds amazing Arthur but like you I have no idea how something like that would happen. Perhaps someone that is more of an expert in growing roses can enlighten us both.

  3. It is true that communicating one’s love through flower symbolism was prevalent in the Ottoman Empire. However, it wasn’t only the women of seraglios (or more commonly called Harem); men could use the “language of flowers”, as they called it, also. And it wasn’t because people were illiterate (especially not the women of the harem; contrary to commonly held beliefs about the harem, it was an educational institution), but because it was just a way to declare one’s love among other ways.


    I have read this somewhere and noted it for future use. Let me know if someone else have more to contribute to this list.

    Black Roses signify Death
    Coral Rose conveys desire
    Lavender Roses symbolize love at first sight and enhancement
    Orange Roses indicate enthusiasm, desire and fascination
    Pink (Deep) says Thank You
    Pink (Light) Rose conveys admiration, gentleness, grace, gladness, joy and sweetness
    Pink Rose carry the message of happiness, gracefulness and gentleness
    Red Roses symbolize sincere Love, Respect, Courage & Passion
    Red (Dark) Rose reveals unconscious beauty
    Red (Single) means “I Love You”
    Red & White Roses together signify unity
    Single Rose in any color expresses simplicity and gratitude
    White Roses express Purity/heavenly, secrecy, silence, innocence and charm
    White (Bridal) Rose symbolizes a happy love
    Yellow Roses indicate joy, gladness, friendship and “I Care”
    Yellow Rose with Red Tip indicates friendship falling in Love

    The description after the color indicates how you feel about the person to whom you are sending the rose. By the way, black does not always mean that you wish the recipient to be dead; it can also be a wish for your own death, perhaps if you just can’t live with the way the situation stands.

    pretty woman

  5. george lyne says

    3 lavender roses and greenery in a red vase. love at first sight.

  6. Hi there am Lynn from glasgow I got a tattoo done yesterday of a yellow rose and I have a big red rose on my arm and shoulder and I really wanted to know the meaning of the colours and now that I have read them I did not no that they meant some really deep and meaningful things is really amazing

  7. saan may pink na roses sa pilipinas

  8. If you would please, can you tell me what rose means ‘I’m Sorry’. I read through your website but must have missed that.

  9. I had dream last night that I was on the mountain and as I look around the mountain was covered with a lots of beautiful roses just the faces of blossom rosse. And I clearly saw red colors and very slight of beige color roses. It look like a beautiful garden of mountain cover by only roses. I also saw a friend of mine doing a
    Marathon contest and he was wearing yellow uniform when he start his running another runner caught him and made him stop then his game it was over. I also first saw a blue paint color on a retail store LOWE’S signed. Before I saw the beautiful roses on the mountain.

  10. Could you please tell me, what’s the meaning my dreams?

  11. To make something colorful in someone’s life, these various colorful roses can be useful for that. Instead of selecting artificial flowers one should use their money on real colorful flowers.

  12. Hey Kate, I was wondering why people prefer to gift someone roses, flowers and bouquets for most of occasions, but your article is the answer by which I understood the meaning of each color. Really appreciate for your effort & thanks for sharing.

  13. Alguien sabe si la rosa blue moon y la rosa blue curiosa son lo mismo??? Ambas tienen un color lila -lavanda, acabo de adquirir una y no me supieron decir cual es!! Saludos y gracias

    • Blue Moon is one of the first lavender-blue hybrid tea roses. They have an intense fragrance. Blue Moon was bred from ‘Sterling Silver,’ which is the parent of nearly every modern lavender rose variety available today. I do not know of Curious Blue roses but all “blue” roses are quite lavender.

  14. Today, a friend of mine gave me a magnificent bunch of pink roses. As someone who is interested in the beauty in the significance of flowers, I asked her what it meant. In response, she told me that she loved me. I owe a bunch of lovely roses for a new relationship!

  15. Enid Hunt says

    my friend lost her brother through a massive heart attack last year and bought a yellow rose in his memory, it is a lovely yellow and was beautiful but this year it is still great and thriving but one flower is half yellow and half is pink also one flower is yellow with one petal pink.
    I said it could be the bees cross pollinating them but thought we’d ask the professionals. thank you, Enid.

  16. They are amazing. Thank you ?

  17. ❤️️

  18. I really like roses thome

    Thank you for the information

  19. this is one of the best info i ever get about the indication of different colors of rose. thanks for sharing

  20. My boyfriend of 2 years have my a dozen orange roses for Valentine’s Day what does orange mean