Begonia Flower Meaning and Symbolism Explored

The begonia flower has a rich history and a variety of meanings. In floriography, they were symbolic of uniqueness, harmony, gratitude, or caution. In addition, begonias of different colors come with their own importance. These subtropical flowers can be given on an anniversary, as a congratulatory gift, or as a way to say “thank you” to someone. They are also used in spiritual ceremonies to symbolize purity. 

Pink and orange begonia flowers in bloom

History & Origins

The begonia is a colorful flower with an equally colorful history. Native to regions of South America and East Asia, it was discovered by French botanist Charles Plumier in the early 1700s. 

So, what’s in a name? Believe it or not, this flower wasn’t named for its bright colors or characteristics. The name actually derives from Michel Begon, a well-known Caribbean politician at the time. 

Since its discovery, the begonia has been cultivated and planted as a decorative flower worldwide. Today, you can find begonias in home gardens, public parks, and florist shops.

Color Symbolism

So, when you give someone a begonia (or plant one outside your home), what exactly are you saying?

That all depends on what kind of begonia you choose. Remember, these flowers come in a wide variety of colors, so you can send plenty of messages with them. Here’s a brief overview of the meaning and symbolism behind the more popular begonia colors. 

Red Begonias

Red Begonias in bloom

Like other types of red flowers, a red begonia symbolizes love, passion, and romance. This is not a flower you would want to give to someone you just met — unless you find them very attractive!

A red begonia is an excellent gift to a partner or romantic interest. It shows undying love, desire, and devotion.

Pink Begonias

Pink Begonias in bloom

A pink begonia also symbolizes love and romance. However, pink flowers are less intense than red. They don’t have the same meaning of passion and devotion. 

In other words, a pink begonia is the perfect gift if you want to show your affection or interest in someone. These flowers can often be found around Valentine’s Day and make a great addition to a bouquet on a first or second date. 

Yellow Begonias

Yellow Begonia flowers

Yellow flowers symbolize happiness, joy, and wealth. This is particularly true of yellow begonias. Because they are so grand and vibrant, these flowers will easily light up a room. 

A yellow begonia can be given as a symbol of hope, friendship, or kindness toward someone in your life. If you want to bring happiness to your own home, they also make a lovely addition to your flower garden or an indoor bouquet. 

White Begonias

White Begonia flower in bloom

White begonias symbolize purity and innocence. Like other white flower meanings, white begonias are often used in spiritual ceremonies like weddings and christenings. 

A white begonia can be given to pretty much anyone in your life. Because their meaning is universally flattering, there is no harm in using them to dress up any gift or decorative bouquet. 

Other Meanings of Begonia Flowers

Alongside the symbolism behind each color, begonias have a few other meanings.

These flowers are grown all over the world. That means there are hundreds of diverse cultural meanings attached to them. We can’t name all of those meanings in this article, but we can cover a few of the most popular. 

Warnings of misfortune: Traditionally, a begonia flower stood for an omen of something sinister in the near future. Most people don’t subscribe to this meaning today, which is why begonias are still so popular as gifts in hospitals. 

Caution: In some cultures, begonias are used to symbolize vigilance. You can give a begonia (of any color) to someone as a way of telling them to take care and stay healthy. 

Harmony: Another typical meaning of the begonia flower is harmonious communication. They symbolize diplomacy, kindness, and peaceful transactions between individuals or businesses. 

Gratitude: If you want to give a flower as a way of saying “thank you” to someone, a begonia is an excellent choice. These flowers symbolize gratitude and thankfulness for a kind act. 

Justice or peace: Begonias are often interpreted as a symbol of peace. In many cultures, they are given as a way to end a feud or argument. You can give your friend a begonia when you want to tell them you are sorry — or if you are ready to forgive them. 

Individuality: Begonias have a unique appearance and come in many colors and varieties. For those reasons, they symbolize individuality. Keeping begonias in your home is a great way to show your uniqueness and take pride in what makes you unique. 

Literary Meanings of Begonias

As you can see, that begonia flower is tied to a lot of positive symbolism. When given as a gift, these flowers represent a range of emotions, including love, happiness, and peace. 

But the symbolism of begonias is not always positive. In literature, they have a much darker meaning. 

Because many cultures see begonias as symbols of warning or caution, they have come to represent dark thoughts in many stories. Descriptions of begonias in literature can mean there is danger up ahead. It can also signify a character is thinking dark or brooding thoughts. 

If you plan on giving a begonia as a gift, you shouldn’t worry about their darker side! The literary symbolism is outdated. Today, most people see begonias as a positive, happy symbol. 

Suitable Gifting Occasions

Because the begonia flower has so many meanings, it can be given as a gift on pretty much any occasion. However you decide to give your begonia, it’s sure to make someone happy! Here’s a quick guide on the best times to give these flowers and which colors to choose. 

Anniversaries

It’s common to give flowers on an anniversary. But if you want to give your significant other a begonia, make sure to pick the right color. 

Red and pink begonias both stand for love. A red begonia is a great way to show your devotion to someone, while a pink begonia shows attraction and affection. You can also add yellow or white flowers to symbolize the purity and happiness in your relationship. 

Congratulations

The begonia is a beautiful flower to give as a congratulatory gift. Begonias stand for individuality and harmony, so they show appreciation for someone who has made a significant accomplishment. 

If you want to give a begonia as a congratulatory gift, the best colors are yellow or gold. Yellow begonias represent happiness, wealth, and hope. 

Baby Showers

White begonias stand for innocence and purity. That’s why they make fantastic presents at a baby shower or as a gesture to congratulate new parents. To make your bouquet more colorful, you can also include yellow begonias to stand for happiness and joy. 

Making Peace

There are several occasions when a begonia can be given as a symbol of peace. Business mergers, for example, should be decorated with begonias to set a tone of unity. 

Giving a begonia is also a lovely gesture to end an argument or disagreement. Avoid red or pink — gold, white, and yellow begonias are best for peace-making. 

Final Thoughts

The begonia flower is bright, diverse, and meaningful. It represents a variety of emotions, including love, hope, and happiness — but it also has a darker meaning in literature! The unique appearance of this flower makes it one-of-a-kind. 

While they may not be as popular as roses or daisies, begonias are marvelous gifts for practically any occasion. They’re also easy to grow in your own garden or propagate on your windowsill. 

No matter what color or species you choose, a begonia bouquet is an excellent way to show someone that you care.

Editorial Director | andrew@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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