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The Real Meaning Behind 15 Rose Colors

Don't place that flower order without reading this first! From friendship to passion, here's what every rose color actually signifies.

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Floral background, roses with other flowers. set of rustic flowers, pink, blue and purple flowers.Carmian/Getty Images

The color conundrum

We all know that roses are red and violets are blue…but actually, roses can also be blue or pink or orange or even black. And that’s just the beginning. These beautiful flowers come in many different colors, both naturally and with the help of dye. So, which should you choose? It’s not simply about picking the color your love, well, loves. You should also take into consideration what each hue signifies. “Roses are the perfect embodiment of love, but their colors have a different meaning, which can help customers choose the perfect arrangement for their Valentine,” explains Alfred Palomares, Vice President of Merchandising at 1-800Flowers.com. Just in time for the most romantic and rose-centric day of the year, here’s what you need to know so you can send the right rose to the right person. And in case you were wondering, this is why roses are so popular for Valentine’s Day.

A close up macro shot of a red rosePaul Cotney/Shutterstock

Red: Love

It should come as zero surprise that the trademark rose color of V-day symbolizes love and admiration. “Red roses are the most popular and quintessential Valentine’s Day gift,” says Palomares. However, if you are in a newish relationship, you might want to stay away from this distinctive color. Why? “Because they convey a message of deep romantic feelings, they are the perfect gift for your wife or long-term partner.” Pair them with a sweet card, personalized with one of these 26 quotes about love.

yellow roseANASTASIIAKU/Shutterstock

Yellow: Friendship

A bright and cheery color, yellow is one of the happiest hues when it comes to roses. “Yellow roses are great for celebrating Galentine’s Day,” says Palomares. “This cheerful hue declares, ‘You’re a great friend.'” You might want to stay away from yellow if you are in a romantic relationship, though, as some people claim they represent jealousy and infidelity. Do flowers make your bestie sneeze? Try one of these 50 awesome gifts for your best friend on Valentine’s Day instead.

close up of lavender roseAdurable Creations/Shutterstock

Lavender: Love and Enchantment

Lavender is a less common color than pink or red, making it the perfect color to express your special love. Considered “exquisite” and “rare,” it implies that you think the world of the person who’s getting these beauties. Translation: You’ll hit the right notes with lavender. “Expressing enchantment, majesty, and splendor, lavender roses (as well as other hues of purple) will delight the queen in your life,” adds Palomares.

front top photography of a beautiful natural hot pink fuchsia rose Claudia M. Velasco/Shutterstock

Deep pink: Happiness and thankfulness

When it comes to pink roses, all the shades all have something in common. They symbolize gratitude, grace, and joy, and they’re a much gentler option than red. For example, while red signifies passionate love, think of pink as more of a token of admiration. In terms of which pink to choose, Palomares explains that when you want to tell your best friend how thankful you are for the bond you share, deep pink roses are a fantastic choice, “as they indicate happiness and gratitude.” In addition to sending the right color flowers, make sure you don’t choose a Valentine’s Day gift that sends the wrong message.

medium pink rose closeup macroJPecha/Getty Images

Medium pink: Gratitude (and much more)

Experts say that medium pink is the most versatile of all the feminine shades. These roses are appropriate for a wide variety of occasions. For example, they may be given as a token of gratitude, but they’re also a great option to give someone who is grieving. They’re even a good way to say congratulations or to acknowledge a first love. Basically, you can’t go wrong with medium pink roses. Plus, did we mention that they’re gorgeous? Roses, of course, may just be the start of how you express your love. These are the Valentine’s Day ideas long-time couples swear by.

Close up on light pink rose. Top view macro.Waldemar Seehagen/Getty Images

Light pink: Innocence and gentleness

Think of pale pink roses as an alternative to white roses. “They imply innocence, but they also send a message of appreciation,” says Palomares. “These pretty petals are a great gift for your mom, sister, or even a close friend.” Because of their light hue, they indicate gentleness, so they’re also a good option for a sympathy gift on a sad occasion. So, what is everyone else buying for the big day? These are the 25 most popular Valentine’s Day gifts on Amazon.

close up of white rose petals. Selective focus. Flowers backgroundyari2000/Shutterstock

White: Purity, innocence, and new beginnings

White is the purest color there is. Historically, it has represented virginity and innocence. It is also known as the “bridal flower,” points out Palomares, as weddings signify new beginnings. But even if you aren’t ready for marriage, this rose may be the right one for your relationship. “A bouquet of fresh, white roses is the ideal gift for a blooming romance,” says Palomares. Want to preserve your petals as a sweet memento? Here’s how to dry flowers.

purple Rose closeup macromagicflute002/Getty Images

Purple: Intense passion

You know that lovestruck feeling you get when you’re in the throes of infatuation? That’s the feeling embodied by purple roses. According to 1-800Flowers.com, “Purple roses are more akin to fleeting infatuation than a long and loving relationship. However, sending purple roses could be a foot in the door to more lasting feelings of love, paving the way for future gifts of pink, red, and orange roses.” Just an FYI, some purple roses are dyed, while others are cross-bred from naturally occurring colors. And beyond flowers, don’t miss these gifts that women actually want for Valentine’s Day.

Closeup of a blooming orange and yellow rose.Stills Photography/Shutterstock

Orange: Passion, desire, and enthusiasm

We already know that red roses represent deep love and that yellow ones represent friendship. Since orange is a combo of the two, think about it as a bridge between both, suggests Palomares. “Indicative of passion, energy, and fascination, these vibrant flowers show your Valentine that you want your friendship to go to the next level,” he says. Of course, there are plenty of options other than roses. This is what your Valentine’s Day flowers say about your relationship.

salmon pink rose macroGaryP/Shutterstock

Salmon: Desire and Excitement

Because salmon is a tad more pink than orange, roses in this gorgeous hue might be an appropriate choice when you want to tell someone how you truly feel—when that feeling entails desire and excitement. (And yes, that sounds a tad frisky to us, too.) They are also vibrant and unique, making them a great option for the kindred spirit in your world. By the way, these are the perfect Valentine’s Day gifts for every stage of a relationship.

Cream tea rose with drops of dew close upvolkova natalia/Shutterstock

Cream: Thoughtfulness


While white is often regarded as a color of innocence, cream has a more subtle meaning. “Cream roses symbolize charm and thoughtfulness and are the perfect way to tell someone they are on your mind,” says Palomares. Whether you want to thank someone for doing something special, or simply make them smile, you can’t go wrong with cream. Another way to make someone smile? With one of these funny Valentine’s Day cards.

Extreme Close-Up Of Beautiful Red RoseRunis/Shutterstock

Burgundy: Beauty

Like red, burgundy roses are a passionate choice for your lover. According to Palomares, the modern meaning behind these stunning, dark red roses is unconscious beauty. “However, historically in the Victorian era, these dark beauties expressed deep devotion, and they are a unique option in place of traditional red,” he points out.

Macro of green and white rose heart petals for greetings backgroundfullempty/Shutterstock

Green: A fresh start

Most people assume that all green roses are heavily dyed (and should only be given on St. Patrick’s Day), but this isn’t actually the case. Green roses started blooming naturally around 1743. According to some reports, they might be the oldest roses out of the bunch, in addition to the single or wild roses. But here’s the thing: Authentic, non-dyed green roses don’t actually have petals—just green sepals. Since green is a color of growth, Palomares explains they can definitely serve a purpose. “The color of life, abundance, and rejuvenation, green roses are a wonderful celebration of good news and new beginnings,” he says.

Vibrant fresh toned blue rose close up. Rose head macro photo background.esvetleishaya/Getty Images

Blue: Mystery and uniqueness

Unlike most other rose colors, blue roses do not exist in nature. Therefore, blue roses have come to represent mystery, the impossible, or the unattainable. If you want to let someone know they are one-of-a-kind, then a bouquet of blue roses is a good bet.

close-up view of beautiful dark rose with water dew dropssanchairat/Getty Images

Black: Mysticism and magic

Hold on—do black roses really exist? The answer is sort of. They don’t exist in nature, and what you probably instead have in front of you is a rose that’s actually a super deep purple or burgundy. But for all intents and purposes, these roses are black, or you may have flowers that have been darkened with dye. Black roses are probably the most complicated to decipher. Heavily featured in fictional stories over the centuries, they have come to represent everything from mystery and mysticism to death and mourning. While some of their meanings may be negative, they are also unique and can look totally chic in the right arrangement, making them a good choice for non-traditionalists—like those who claim they aren’t super into Valentine’s Day. Not a fan of the big day yourself? Here are 7 ways to boycott the holiday.