Flowers can symbolize more than just love

Photo illustration by Marcella Brooks Flowers can have several different meanings, from love and friendship, to rejection and disdain.

Chocolates, cards and fluffy teddy bears are all staples of Valentine’s Day gift giving. Some of the most special and traditional gifts on the “day of love” are flowers.

Although flowers are generally regarded for their beautiful looks and scents, there are also several meanings associated with different types of flowers.

For instance, the daisy is meant to convey gentleness and innocence, while the daffodil is a symbol for chivalry. There are the delicate calla lilies, which are known for representing majestic beauty. Or our state’s very own sunflower, which signifies dedication and adoration.

If you are looking for a bolder statement, try giving tulips, which stand for declarations of love, as well as for perfect lovers. For those looking to show a little playful or competitive spirit, the hyacinth has long been an icon for sports and games.

There are also some flowers that have both positive and negative connotations. An example would be the hydrangea, which can indicate gratitude, but also coldness.

Classic carnations come in all different colors, with each denoting different meanings. White shows true love, and yellow or striped carnations can mean rejection and disdain. If you are looking for a gift for the matriarch in your life, pink carnations are a great way to tell her she is a very special mother.

Then, there are the roses. Jan Miller, owner of Steve’s Floral, believes that they are the most romantic flower available.

“There is no stronger statement, from a man to a woman, than red roses sent to her on Valentine’s Day,” Miller said. “It’s a way to say ‘I love you.'”

If you want to do more than an all-red motif, you can combine red and white roses for a message of unity. You can also give a pale or a pink rose as a token of friendship.

Whatever your flower preference is, the professionals say to get your orders in as soon as possible. Bronwyn Douglas, co-owner of Kistner’s Flowers, said the store starts taking orders early because there is such great demand on Valentine’s Day.

Of course, the earlier the better, but all of our orders are filled with the freshest flowers in a timely manner,” Douglas said in an email interview. “I would encourage everyone to place their orders at least by Wednesday, Feb. 13, as getting through our phone lines on Valentine’s Day itself is extremely challenging.”

For those who want to surprise their loved ones at school or work, most Manhattan florists, including Kistner’s, Steve’s Floral and Acme Gift, offer local delivery for a small fee.

Some individuals may be looking to perform an even bigger gesture for Valentine’s Day.

“We had a young man come in the other day who was going to be proposing soon, and he ordered a dozen red roses with beautiful white accent flowers,” Miller said. “It was going to be a total surprise because he had just gotten back from Afghanistan.”

Laura Ludlow, senior in American ethnic studies and anthropology, works at Acme Gift and offers some tips for putting together an arrangement on a budget.

“Have a vase ready because the vase is probably half the cost,” Ludlow shared. “Always go with flowers that pop against greenery because that looks more full versus the greener stuff.”

Whether they are used as small tokens of appreciation or as part of grander events, flowers are a timeless and traditional way to show your feelings.