Rose Colors and Their Symbolic Meanings in Floriography

In the language of flowers, different rose colors are used to convey a variety of symbolic meanings. In this guide, I’ll run through everything you need to know about each and every rose flower color, spanning classic reds and pinks through to bright orange, yellow, lavender, green, and black roses.

Rose Colors and Their Symbolic Meanings

Rose Color Meaning Guide

Selecting a rose could be a little baffling, considering the numerous colors, types, and arrangement possibilities. When picking a single rose or a bouquet, you need to keep in mind a few things like the occasion, the flower’s symbolism, and the recipient’s preferences.

Colors and Occasions

One of the most important things to consider when choosing the color of your rose is the occasion as each color conveys a message. When you don’t know what to say, you can let roses do the talking for you. Here are some of the meanings behind the colors of roses:

White Roses

A single white rose flower in bloom

White roses traditionally symbolize purity and innocence. They also often represent youth and humility. 

Also, white roses are often associated with new beginnings and marriages. Because of such representations, we often see these flowers in weddings and bridal bouquets. Their elegant appeal likewise makes them ideal as a nice gesture of remembrance. 

Moreover, giving a bouquet of white roses is one way to commemorate a friend or a loved one’s new journey in life or as a farewell gift. The pureness of white roses often translates to hope for the future and respect.

Because of their versatility, white roses are ideal for many forms of celebrations, such as weddings, birthdays, Mother’s Day, or anniversaries, as well as conveying a sympathy or apology message. They also make a lovely home décor. 

Red Roses

A velvet red rose flower in full bloom

Nothing says “I love you” more than a classic red rose.

Red is the color of affection, passion, romance, and desire. A red rose also reflects beauty. It’s a universal symbol of love, making it a perfect gift for your significant other on anniversaries, birthdays, or even on a random day. 

Yellow Roses

A single yellow rose flower in bloom

In our modern times, yellow roses symbolize joy and warmth. They also represent friendship, care, and bonds, so if you’re thinking about giving your childhood best friend, then a yellow rose is an excellent choice.

Other meanings of yellow roses include remembrance and appreciation. Therefore, yellow roses are your best bet as a parting gift or simply letting people know you appreciate them.

In the Victorian era, yellow roses, despite their cheerful color, were associated with jealousy, greed, and infidelity. For that reason, you should avoid giving a yellow rose to a special someone. In the language of flowers, this can mean you’re only interested in being a friend, and that may send mixed signals.

Pink Roses

A soft pink flowering rose flower

Pink roses symbolize elegance and femininity. They’re very versatile roses and convey many meanings depending on their shade.

Deep or hot pink roses show the recipient that you recognize their presence and appreciate who they are. That makes deep pink roses the perfect “thank you” gift.

Light pink roses, on the other hand, represent grace. They’re a suitable gift for a woman who has reached a milestone or achieved a goal. Also, if you’re interested in someone, yet feel that a red rose would be too strong of a gesture, a pink rose can be a more subtle way to show them how you feel.

Orange Roses

A single orange rose in full bloom

Orange, in itself, is a bright and energetic color, and that’s precisely the message it conveys. If you’ve been feeling down lately, pack yourself a gorgeous orange bouquet for some positive energy. Also, they express pride and fascination. 

Orange rose’s symbolic meaning means they can be gifted on occasions when you want to tell someone that you admire what they did or that you’re proud of them. They also represent passionate romance, so if you’re looking for an unusual gift for your significant other, orange roses are a marvelous choice. Want a pop of cheerfulness in your wedding decor? Complement white roses with orange ones.

Blue Roses

A bouquet of blue roses

There aren’t real, true blue roses in nature. True blue roses are produced by dyeing white roses. If you prefer a naturally existing variety, you can opt for a purplish-blue rose.

Because the blue rose is unpopular and not naturally found, it can represent a mystery. That makes it a way to tell someone that they’re unique and extraordinary.

Black Roses

A single black flowering rose

Much like true blue roses, true black roses do not exist naturally. Instead, they are white roses artificially colored with black dye. However, several dark-colored rose varieties have been identified as “black roses” though their colors are actually dark red, deep red, or burgundy. 

One example is the Black Magic Rose, a popular variety, which features black buds that eventually turn into deep red velvety petals as they open. Another is the Black Baccara Roses, a type of hybrid tea rose with velvety dark red flowers.

Black roses are one of the most exotic types of flowers in any arrangement. They present various meanings with death and mourning being the most common of all. 

They also represent tragic love, hatred, end of something like a relationship or career, and, finally – revenge. As they can be a form of tragic love, black roses can likewise be a symbol of deep love and devotion.

Although black roses usually convey negative meanings, they also carry a bit of positivity since they can also mean new beginnings and rebirth.  

Green Roses

A single green rose flower and stem

Green is an unusual color for a flower. But true green roses do grow naturally, and they are as beautiful as other colored roses.

Though rare, green roses remain as popular cut flowers for many celebrations, such as St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, and Easter, many more. They are also well-liked in bouquets and floral arrangements.

Green roses hold various meanings, including freshness and balance. Also, they are often a symbol of hope, fertility, life, cheerfulness, and rejuvenation.

Lavender Roses

Two Lavender rose flowers in bloom against green foliage

Another rare color for a rose flower is lavender. Because of their lovely and feminine beauty, purple roses are a great alternative to express romance if you want something a little different from the usual red or pink roses.

Like other colors, purple roses convey many different meanings. They are a symbol of attractiveness and love at first sight. These fascinating flowers are also associated with royalty, luxury, and privilege. Other symbolism of lavender roses includes adoration, mystery, and wonder.

Multicolored Roses

Mixed color rose flowers composed in a bouquet

Multicolored roses, more popularly known as rainbow roses, generally convey joy and happiness because of the assortment of colors they present. Like blue roses, they don’t occur naturally. Instead, they are artificially colored to achieve that rainbow-like look. 

This colorful arrangement presents a fun gifting flower for many celebrations, including birthdays, anniversaries, the birth of a new baby, graduations, a new home, and job promotion.

Mixed Rose Flower Meaning

Mixed roses are perhaps the most fail-proof and versatile gifting flower since they suit an assortment of occasions, celebrations, and meanings. Mixing different (and personalized selections, too!) colors of roses is one way to send a combination of messages into one beautiful arrangement. 

The Number of Roses in a Bouquet and What They Represent:

An array of colorful rose flowers in bouquets

Putting a flower bouquet together is a work of art that requires an understanding of the botanical language.

Single Rose

A single rose is a simple yet significant way to send the message “I love you” to someone. It can also mean love at first sight. A single rose is a perfect choice for romantic occasions.

The price of a simple rose can vary depending on factors like the stem length, and timing, for instance. You could buy a single stem for as low as $1, but expect that number to double on occasions like Valentine’s day.

Simple Bouquets

A simple bouquet of six flowers represents shared love. A nine-rose bouquet says, “together forever.” Simple bouquets are an excellent gift for many occasions, apart from romance, like birthdays and celebrating a friends’ achievement.

A six-rose bouquet with some baby flowers and wrapping paper can cost you anywhere between $10 to $20.

Premium Bouquets

A premium bouquet with lots of roses is a fabulous gift for anniversaries and a way of showing your partner that you still admire and appreciate them.

For instance, a bouquet with 50 flowers represents love with no boundaries. A premium bouquet may range from $40 to $70.

Super Lux

Who wouldn’t admire a bouquet with a 100 roses or more? 100-rose flower bouquets signify union and complete devotion. For that reason, they fit the bill for grand romantic gestures.

Are you looking for a stunning bouquet for your proposal? A super lux rose bouquet is the one!

A super lux bouquet could be a bit heavy on the wallet, ranging from $70 and up to $100, but it definitely conveys a meaningful message.

Eternity Roses

Eternity roses can stay fresh for up to a year. They’re a fantastic way to show your significant other how special they are to you.

Eternity roses’ price can range from $40 for a single rose to $500 for a large bouquet.

The Rose Flower

Five long stemmed rose flowers

Rose is a broad genus of flowering plants. As a result, the flowers vary depending on the species or type. Wild roses, for instance, typically have five petals, whereas those in the Old Garden Roses and Modern Roses categories often have multiple sets of petals. More details on these types of roses below. 

The size of rose flowers ranges from miniature forms, which are about 1.25 cm (0.5 inch) across, to hybrid types measuring at least 17.5 cm (6.8 inches) in diameter. 

Types of Rose Flowers

With over 300 recognized rosa species and thousands of available hybrids of roses, you can find them in different colors, forms, and sizes. Although their broad lineage can be quite challenging to dissect, three main categories identify these famed blooms: Species (Wild) Roses, Old Garden Roses, and Modern Roses

Species Roses, otherwise referred to as Wild Roses, are rose species that occur naturally and not hybridized. They are typically shrub-like or large climbing types of perennials that require minimal maintenance. They bloom single, flat flowers once a year. 

Old Garden Roses, otherwise known as Heritage Roses, are roses that have been in existence before 1867. Included in this category are Alba roses, Ayrshire roses, Bourbon roses, China roses, Gallica roses, Moss roses, Portland roses, Ramblers roses, Tea roses (which is the official Zodiac flower for Libra), and more. These flowers have strong fragrances and beautiful bloom shapes. Moreover, they bloom once a year during the summer season.  

Modern Roses are roses hybridized after 1867. Unlike heritage roses, they flower continuously. Most importantly, they have a larger flower size and longer vase life. However, they are not as fragrant and as hardy as heritage roses. Included in this category are English roses, Floribunda roses, Grandiflora roses, Hybrid Tea roses, Rambler roses, Miniature roses, and more. 

The American Rose Society has a different system of categorization of rose flowers. It includes the following:

  • Hybrid tea roses
  • Grandiflora roses
  • Floribunda roses
  • Polyantha roses
  • Miniature roses and Miniflora roses
  • Shrub roses
  • Climber roses

One of the most promising types of roses comes from the Modern Roses group – the Hybrid Tea Roses. A popular hybrid tea rose variety is the ‘Tahitian Sunset,’ which features apricot-pink blooms measuring up to 6 inches across. 

Another famed rose is the ‘About Face’ cultivar, which is an orange Grandiflora rose. It features bi-colored petals, rich green and glossy leaves, and long stems. The flowers grow up to 5 inches across and carry an apple-like fragrance. 

Other popular rose varieties are as follows: ‘Teasing Georgia,’ ‘Easy Does It,’ ‘Julia Child,’ ‘Mardi Gras,’ ‘Wild Blue Yonder,’ ‘Elle,’ ‘Pat Austin,’ and ‘Frankly Scarlett.’

History of Roses: Their Origins, Meanings and Cultural Significance 

Pink and red rose flowers pre-bloom against green foliage

Roses are native to Asia, North America, Europe, and northwest Africa. The first cultivation of these plants originated some 5,000 years ago during the Roman era. Before their fame as garden plants and cut flowers, roses were highly valued back in the day for their scent, medicinal and therapeutic values, celebrations, and decorations. 

Eventually, about 5,000 years ago, roses reached China, where rose cultivation became prevalent. Fast forward to the late 18th century, and the roses made their way from China to Europe, where their popularity skyrocketed further. As soon as roses reached Europe, plant breeders started developing rose hybrids. From then on, the rest is history.

Roses and Romance

There’s a long list of legends and myths about roses throughout history. Combining them, you can understand why roses are currently strongly associated with love and affection.

The western culture, for instance, believed in the tale that the rose originated from Aphrodite, the Roman goddess of love. Wealthy Romans used to pamper their body by soaking in water with rose petals.

Another tale from the ancient Arabs tells the story of a nightingale who fell so intensely in love with a white rose that he pressed its body to it. A thorn from the rose pierced its heart, and the flower turned red from its blood. 

Many other myths explain the association of roses with romance in our modern time. At the end of the day, who wouldn’t fall in love with the sight of a blooming, red rose?

Rose Cultural Significance

Pink rose flowers composed in a vase

The popularity of these flowers translates to a broad cultural significance worldwide. In England, for instance, roses are the national flower. Several reasons support this recognition. One example is the War of Roses between 1455 and 1487, in which Lancaster and York competed with each other to rule the country. Red roses and white roses represented the House of Lancaster and the House of York, respectively.

The influence of roses is likewise evident in the works of William Shakespeare. In particular, Romeo and Juliet include the line, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” 

England is not the only country that considers roses as its national flower. The United States and the Maldives likewise recognize roses as their respective official flower and floral emblem. In addition, Honduras once considered the rose as its national flower, too. The Queen of Flowers is also the official flower of five US states (Iowa, North Dakota, Georgia, New York, and Oklahoma) and the province of Alberta in Canada. 

Also, the rose is the birthday flower for June and the 15th wedding anniversary flower

Wrapping Up

The meaning and symbolism of rose flower colors are rich and diverse. Each color carries its own message, allowing the sender to convey specific emotions and intentions. Red roses speak of passionate love, while white roses embody purity and innocence. Pink roses express admiration and gratitude, while yellow roses symbolize friendship and joy. Orange roses convey enthusiasm and fascination, while lavender or lilac roses represent enchantment and uniqueness. Black roses, although often associated with mystery and farewells, can also signify new beginnings. By combining different colored roses, you can also convey a unique and heartfelt message for various gifting occasions throughout the year.

Editorial Director | | 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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