Why Thrift Flowers Hold a Special Place: Meaning & Mythology

With their charming, globe-shaped clusters of flowers that spring up from grassy clumps in droves along sea coasts, thrift flowers (Armeria maritima) have allured gardeners and seaside walkers for centuries. This guide will cover everything you need to know about the rich history, meaning, and symbolism of thrift flowers, which only adds to their garden appeal.

Ultimate Guide to Thrift Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Thrift Flower Symbolism – Key Takeaways

According to The Language of Flowers: An Alphabet of Floral Emblems, thrift flowers symbolize sympathy in the Victorian language of flowers. In modern times, thrift flowers have taken on the symbolic meaning of being economical or frugal, thanks to the double meaning of the flower’s name.

The Etymology of Thrift (Armeria maritima)

The Etymology of Thrift (Armeria maritima)

The genus name Armeria comes from a post-classical, Latinized version of the old French word armoires. This refers to cluster-headed plants from the Dianthus genus. Although thrift flowers come from an entirely different plant family, their clustered, globular blossoms do resemble those of Dianthus flowers. Maritima also comes from Latin. The word translates directly as “coastal areas,” referring to where thrift flowers naturally grow.

The plant’s common name, thrift, comes from the Old Norse word, þrif, which means prosperity. It is derived from þrifask, which means to thrive.

In Gaelic, thrift is called tonn a’ chladaich, which means beach wave. This name refers to the wave-like appearance of fields of these flowers when blowing in the wind.

Thrift Flowers in Floriography

In floriography (also known as the Victorian language of flowers), thrift flowers symbolize sympathy, as mentioned in The Language of Flowers: An Alphabet of Floral Emblems, which was initially published in 1857.

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Thrifts

Thrift Flower Colors and Their Symbolic Meanings

Although thrift flowers generally symbolize sympathy, they can also take on additional symbolic meanings as a result of the different colors of their flowers.

  • Pink – Gentleness, femininity, happiness, gentle affection, and admiration
  • Red – True love, romantic love, and passion
  • Purple – Success and royalty
  • White – Sympathy, innocence, and purity

Armeria maritima and Thriftiness During the World Wars

During the First and Second World Wars, an emblem of the thrift flower was minted on the United Kingdom’s old, 12-sided threepence coins as a symbolic reminder to the people of the importance of being frugal and using resources wisely during those difficult times.

Thrift Flower Meaning and References to Christianity

Two common names of the Armeria maritima include references to Christianity. These names include Our Lady’s Cushion and the Welsh name, clustog fair, which means Mary’s pillow.

Thrift Flowers in Literature

Thrift Flowers in Literature

Thrift flowers have also made appearances in literature. They are mentioned in Enid Blyton’s description of Kirrin Castle in her The Famous Five series of children’s adventure novels. Additionally, they appear in the poem “A Bay in Anglesea” by Sir John Betjeman.

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Thrift Flowers

Since thrift flowers symbolize sympathy, the most appropriate occasions for giving them are funerals – especially the white varieties. However, thrift flowers blossom in more cheerful colors like pink, red, and purple, and they can be given to celebrate almost any occasion.

Considering the traditional symbolic meanings of flower colors, red thrift can be included in romantic bouquets, pink thrift could be included in affectionate bouquets, and purple thrift flowers could be included in bouquets to celebrate success.

Thrift Flower FAQs:

What does a thrift flower symbolize?

Thrift flowers symbolize sympathy, according to the Victoria Language of Flowers.

Are thrifts lucky?

Thrift flowers and plants are not generally considered to be lucky – especially not when compared with traditional lucky plants such as money trees, chrysanthemums, jade plants, and lucky bamboo.

Do thrifts come back every year?

Yes, thrifts are evergreen perennials that grow and rebloom every year.

How long do thrift flowers last?

Most varieties of thrifts bloom from mid to late spring until early summer.

Do thrifts flower more than once?

Most thrift flowers blossom only once per season. However, some cultivars continue to bloom intermittently throughout summer, and other varieties have a second bloom in early autumn.

Richly Beautiful Flowers for Poor Soil Gardens

If you live along a salty coastline or have a garden bed situated in poor soil, then thrift flowers and their rich meaning and symbolism are the answer to your gardening woes. Collect a variety of Armeria maritima cultivars to enjoy a garden that blossoms from spring through autumn.


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