On Valentine’s Day, the rose still rules, as always

Updated Jan 31, 2018

Close Up Photo of a Rose and Rose Petals

Valentine’s Day is almost here and with it comes the traditional giving and receiving of flowers, namely roses.

According to ProFlowers, 43 percent of all fresh cut flowers bought for Valentine’s Day are red roses and another 29 percent are other colored roses.

Flowers have been used for hundreds of years to communicate and the Victorians placed a great deal of attention on floriography, the language of flowers, as a way to convey messages without saying a word.

Both the number and color of roses one chooses to give have a symbolic meaning. Here are some of the common rose colors and their accepted meanings:


Red roses are associated with passion and true love and were often tied to Aphrodite or Venus in Greek and Roman times. Red roses can also convey courage and congratulations. A bright red rose is said to mean romance while a burgundy color means love that has yet to be realized.


White roses are one of the oldest varieties of rose and represent purity and innocence. They are typically used at weddings to bring to mind worthiness and virtue, but can also symbolize remembrance, so you’ll encounter them at funerals as well.


Differing shades of pink have varying meanings, but the general sentiments of a pink rose are happiness, admiration, joy and gratitude. Pale pinks stand for gentleness, joy and grace while the deep pinks are used to say thank you. A medium hue of pink can show admiration or sympathy.


Traditionally the flower of friendship, yellow roses are cheerful and are meant to provoke warm feelings. They also suggest caring, welcome and joy. Yellow roses are typically given to a sick friend, new mothers or someone newly engaged. A word of caution: in German culture, they are interpreted as a sign of infidelity and dying love.


Orange roses range from peach to a fiery bloom and likewise serve as the middle ground between the love-struck red and amiable yellow. Vibrant oranges can imply desire and enthusiasm while peach colors proclaim appreciation, sincerity and modesty.

Number-wise, there is a lot of variation on how to interpret meanings, but here are the ones that all the sources seem to agree on:

  • One rose – love at first sight
  • Two roses – mutual love
  • Three roses – I love you
  • Ten roses – You are perfect
  • Twelve roses – Be mine
  • Thirteen roses – Forever friends, or a secret admirer
  • Fifteen roses – I’m really sorry

As you can see, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to picking out a meaningful bouquet. Still, Victorian times are long gone, and nowadays, it’s really the thought that counts.

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