Thursday, July 7, 2011


The Modern Meanings of Flowers

Red roses: "I’ve been thinking about you, and what I think is I want to put my thing in your things and then I want to turn you around and put my thing in your other things. But I want you to be OK about this, OK?"

Carnations: "I knew I had to buy you flowers, but I didn’t think you were worth spending a lot of money on."

Daisies: "I think you’re innocent, like an eight-year-old girl, and that’s what I’m attracted to in a woman."

Orchid: "I want to intimidate you with my fabulous wealth, while discovering whether or not you can keep something alive on your own."

Stargazer Lilies: "I’m not saying your apartment smells like something died in it. I’m just saying you should mask the weird odor in your living room with the same fragrance that funeral homes use to cover up the stench of the dead."

Mums: "I saw these on sale outside KMart and remembered you were middle aged. Damn, you make elastic waistbands look good."

Peonies: "I am a man of breeding and therefore understand the importance of making every other woman in your office jealous of you."

Hydrangeas: "I’m gay."

Calla Lilies: "I saw these and thought of your vagina. Pretty, right?"

Gladiolas: "These will look really nice in your sitting room at the nursing home. Please die soon so I can inherit your 1996 Saturn."

Sunflowers: "I am enraptured by your sunny disposition and how as a hippie you never seem to wear a bra."

Tulips: "I have done something very wrong and I hope that you will never find out about it, because I want to keep putting my thing in your things."

Mixed bunch: "I want you to let me put my thing in your things, but I don’t have a steady job."

A Corsage: "I’m in high school, and I want to put my thing in someone’s things and I guess your things will do. Also, my mom bought this. Can I please put my sweaty hand on your things?"

Meghan O'Keefe is a comedian and writer living in New York City. She likes to get peach colored roses, because they're like less-aggressive red roses.

145 Comments / Post A Comment


"Please die soon so I can inherit your 1996 Saturn." hahahaha


Amazing. I actually inherited a Saturn from my grandma when she died. But I think it was a '93. Even cooler, vintage.


Peonies: "I am a man of breeding and therefore understand the importance of making every other woman in your office jealous of you."

yesssssssss. i need to find a straight man who knows the importance of peonies.


@becky@twitter I need to find a way to passive-aggressively show this list to my boyfriend so he can find out the importance of peonies.


@Riff Randell how about an email that says, "sweetheart, i found this list online. isn't it funny? you'd never get me anything but peonies, right? you know they're my favorite." and then fake an ad on the bottom (ala yahoo mail) to a link to a floral arrangement with peonies.


@becky@twitter and @all other peony lovers
YES. BEST FLOWER. They make me so happy.


@emilylouise i also have become enamored with cabbage roses, though i'm not sure what their modern meaning is.


@becky@twitter Well, they certainly exist now, but it might just be those of us who frequent this site.


@AllSaintsDay oh i know they exist. i'm just looking for one who i'd want to put their thing in my things, who would want to put their thing in only my things, AND knows the beauty of peonies. that's rare.


@becky@twitter PEONIES 4 LYFE!


@Riff Randell Just leave this browser open on his computer with the peonies bit highlighted. Maybe also leave an actual sticky note on the screen with an arrow pointing to the bit about peonies and a note that says *cough cough*.


@wee_ramekin maybe I'll draw a bunch of peonies on the shower curtain so it will sink into his subconscious. On that note, maybe I could somehow make him watch a slideshow of peonies while putting my thing on his thing so he has positive associations in that subconscious? WHERE'S COSMO WHEN I NEED IT?


@Riff Randell cosmo would just tell you to incorporate a scrunchie with a peony pattern into sex.


@Riff Randell Screw passive agressive. I just emailed this to my boyfriend with the subject line "memorize this."


@becky@twitter I found him and he is mine. Although he chose them because "they're pink."


@lafleur he still chose them! lucky you.


@becky@twitter: Cabbage roses = "I want to put my thing in your things, preferably in a pastoral outdoor setting."


@becky@twitter OH MAN. I never even knew cabbage roses were a thing, but a quick Google Image search proves that you have excellent flower taste!

Things like cabbage roses make me wish I were the kind of woman who could say "oh how lovely!" without sounding like an asshole.


@Bittersweet "...or on classic, french country inspired homegoods."


@emilylouise if a man ever sent me a bouquet of cabbage roses, peonies, and renunculus, i would probably let him put his things wherever he wanted whenever he wanted. i'm a floral slut.

okay, maybe not wherever. unless he's young marlon brando and he comes equipped with a box of zebra cakes.


@becky@twitter Those are my slut-flowers too. I think they are kind of naturally slutty? Orchids are explicit, but ranunculuses (culi?) are SLUTTAY.


@becky@twitter They are the Brigadoon of flowers! They only turn up in flower shops when I have no boyfriend. I've sent men in fruitless searches for cabbage roses and had florists laugh at the idea of procuring them. Plus they cost about the same as a '96 Saturn.

Hot mayonnaise

@maevemealone: I'm a hetero male and I grow my own peonies.


@martinipie my light would be green. that's all i'm sayin.

Hot mayonnaise

@Hot mayonnaise: photos here and here


@martinipie This is NSFW if you are the kind of lady who goes porn-freak slutty for ranunculus.

Scroll down to the pink ranunculus part. You will have a floral orgasm and die.


I googled the stuffings out of peonies before I even read the next flower.


@Tulletilsynet well, now you know!


@becky@twitter Are you boys listening?


@wee_ramekin Yes. Love ranunculus.


@wee_ramekin Whyyyy, wee_ramekin, whyyyy?!?! Now I have to dream up a nonexistent wedding for those flowers!


@wee_ramekin "You will have a floral orgasm and die."

... a florgasm?


word UP on peonies. They are probably the best flower.

Tragically Ludicrous

@Riff Randell SO PRETTY


@Riff Randell THEY LOOK LIKE LACEY PANTIES!!! in the best way!!


@Riff Randell Ive never even heard the word peony before I read this.


agreed, but not 'probably.' They just are the best flower.


my thing? in your things? WTF?


Until this list, I had always thought peonies were petunias.


1. This list is God's own Truth.

2. Peonies are the best. If men of taste and breeding can't find them, ginger lilies are nice, too.


What about renunculus? I love those! But yeah, probably no guy would pick them amongst the others.

My ex gave me 3 different orchids over a 5 year period and he took it personally everytime I couldn't get them to bloom again. You'd think I'd have learned after the first one!


@sox Yes! Ranunculuses (ranunculi?) are my favorite. I just buy them for myself because, why the hell not. Plus they're so rarely available, so it only comes up like once a year. Peonies and tulips are tied for second place.

No thanks on the calla lilies...that's an uptight flower if I ever saw one.


@sox @britishpetroleum YES! renunculus!


@sox YEAH! These are my faves! After the unicorns of flowers which are cabbage roses, RANUNCULUSES are the bomb! But also hard to find and short lived.


@maevemealone totally sounds like a spell from the world of harry potter.


@jstar Whisper it slowly in your boyfriends ear five times as he sleeps and watch him freak out. Fun times.


@sox Yes yes yes on ranunculus, but I have literally told my husband to his face that they are the best flowers, and still he bought me dyed magenta daises. sigh.


@hallu Is it sad that I'd still love them?


Whilst I myself am floral death, Ive heard keeping orchids in the bathroom helps. Apparently they like things steamy.


@teaandcakeordeath you have the best username. little red cookbook! little red cookbook!


Ha! Yes! Also - The Deathstar Canteen. I could kill you with a tray!


Most excellent. However there's no category for "I never buy you flowers even though I want to put my thing in your thing but that one time a friend of ours came over and brought us flowers you put them in the blender."

femme cassidy

@arrr starr THAT IS ME. My beloved is totally the flower-buying type, but I unfortunately suck at being the flower-keeping-alive type. (The last time he brought me flowers, they were daffodils. I suspect their modern meaning is "I know you said you don't want kids but I'm hoping I can change your mind.")


Regardless of price or meaning, no flower will ever top daffodils in mt book.


@rachelrachel "Sandra Tampleton, I love you and I WILL marry you!"


@thenotestaken YES BIG FISH.

Graydon Gordian

So what you're saying is get her peonies. Got it.


@Graydon Gordian yes! do it! preferably in delicate shades of pinks and in a clear vase.

Graydon Gordian

@becky@twitter This list is actually very helpful. I think most men understand that these hidden flower meanings exist. I was just never sure what they were.

Except for Roses. I knew that's what Roses meant.


Wait, we have to buy the vase too?


Allium: I am from Mars, but also have good taste in flowers.


@ejcsanfran: And a good sense of humor.

Katie Heaney

Gerber daisies: "I am perfect, and I also know that this is totally going to make you think of that one time when Seth brought Summer a pink Gerber daisy everyday at school and you were like 'omg, I'm dead.'"

(I love this!)


@Katie Heaney YES. seth + summer 4ever


Peonies? Really? I will take Gerber Daisies or Orchids any day of the week.

Also, Orchids from Whole Foods are like $12 and really hardy.



@cherrispryte: My in-laws bought me a beautiful pink orchid for my birthday in Feb. but all the flowers fell off and it looks like a stick with big leaves at the bottom. Is there any hope, or should I just throw it out now?

(Ask a Horticulturalist?)

elysian fields

@cherrispryte I think you mean Gerbera daisies but yeah, those are great! They're so bright and fun


@cherrispryte Orchids are stupid. They seem all cool, until you have to keep it alive and then you can't and you feel like a failure. Gerber Daisies (either Gerber or Gerbera is proper!) are my most favorite.


@Bittersweet Don't throw it out! Sterilize some scissors, and cut the stem off an inch or two from the base, and put some cinnamon on where you just cut it. Then, fertilize it once a week, make sure its living somewhere humid, and a new stem should show up soon! (or it might take two months.) But! When it does, you will feel like the most awesome successful orchid-owner ever.

My begging for orchids was really gluttony on my part. I have two, I just want MORE MORE MORE. And I'm a total idiot with plants (no, really, I killed a fern once) and I've gotten both of my orchids to grow new stems. There are apparently things you can do in terms of temperature and hours of light/dark to further encourage a new stem to grow, but I've never really paid attention to those!


@Bittersweet Definitely don't throw it away! Do as Cherri says. Or even don't. It will come back. They're a little temperamental when it comes to new environments and they like humidity, but they're really hardy. Hardier than most plants. Also, IKEA has (or at least had) tiny little mini orchids for like $5, Cherri, and they are so cute.


@winchesterwolcott my hardiest orchid is an ikea orchid, and it was all of $12. It is sprouting a second stem even though the current stem is only just losing its flowers now.

It is impossible for me to get to an ikea, though! Also dangerous. Money evaporates from me whenever I step in that store.


@Bittersweet If the stem is hella brown and looks dead- cut it down to the bottom. If it's still green, cut it above one of the notches on the stem, it might grow another one out of the side. And give it some fertilizer once a week when u water it, nice sunny windowsill, and it will eventually bloom again!


@sweetleah Wait. Which end do you keep? The little brown bit at the bottom or the actual tall dead flowerey part?

(I can't even keep an aloe vera plant alive ...)


@Bittersweet The key to bringing a dead orchid back to life is to ignore it. Put it outside over the summer, check on it once a month, and generally, in about 6 months you'll have blooms again. Orchids are petulant creatures.


I've always wanted a boy to give me a bouquet of cotton bolls like they sell at some of the good bodegas in the winter time. I wonder what that means...


I actually just had to google peonies to figure out what they look like. I am a Bad Girl.


@DorothyMantooth Oh, so did I. And I'm kinda meh about them in Google Image version. Bad Girls Club?


@DorothyMantooth My sister just had peonies in her wedding bouquets... I was in the wedding and I thought they were weird roses. So yeah, I am also a Bad Girl.

elysian fields

@DorothyMantooth me too and I don't really see what the fuss is about? Flowers all kind of look the same to me ....


@DorothyMantooth me too. and then i thought they looked like brightly colored artichokes.


I woulda thought they were cabbage roses if presented with them in real life. Looks like this Bad Girls Club is really coming together!


@DorothyMantooth Add me to the door list for the Bad Girls Club. I had to google peonies AND ranunculus. I sooo thought peonies were a completely different flower... maybe 'peony' is used for a different flower in Australia?... no?...


@DorothyMantooth I was familiar with about half that list, and having googled the other half, I've decided that I will reject anything other than cookie bouquets.

Springtime for Voldemort

@DorothyMantooth Another member of the Bad Girls Club. Also: peonies, cabbage roses, ranunculuses - they all look smooshed and limp, like what happens if "normal" roses aren't thriving; why are these considered the best flowers?

Seriously, I'm going to have a panic attack the next time I buy flowers. And, of course, the next time someone buys me tulips, I will flip out and think they fooled around with my sister or something. I really miss the days when it was all tissue-paper bouquets, and it meant "look at how talented I am that I got tissue paper to sorta-kinda resemble a flower, in a post-modern way".

Patrices Pieces

What about some wildflowers from an obliging field? These are not from the hothouse!


@ballbiscuit OH MY GOD <3


Just for that, I'm going to be BURIED in my '96 Saturn! How do you like them apples?


@faintly_macabre but what kind of flowers will we lay on top of your saturn casket?


@becky@twitter Bachelor's buttons.


@faintly_macabre ooh those are pretty.

hairdresser on fire

Tiger lilies? Any love, Hairpinners? They have freckles, c'mon!


@hairdresser on fire Tiger lilies are my mother's favorite flower, so my dad planted over 300 tiger lily plants in the backyard for her. Then, when they started to spread out and got too big for the space, he replanted them in open spaces around the neighborhood, like at the bay beach at the end of the block. The flowers my dad planted my mom are everywhere you look around my childhood home. It's so beautiful.


@Lola Ahhh! I am dead. SOOOOOO sweet!


Sweet peas. If a boy ever gave me sweet peas, I would interpret that as "I'm incapable of being a juicebox...ever."


@SuperGogo And you apartment will smell like h e a v e n!! (I had to pick my own to find out)


SWEET PEAS!! Growing up we had sweet peas twisting all through the chain link fence in our backyard. They fill me with nostalgia and make me feel like a little girl playing bride with lace curtains a la Elizabeth Shue in the opening scene in Adventures in Babysitting. Oh geez, with one comment you just sent me back 20 years. Clearly this means I need sweet peas forever in my life from now on.


I am assuming everybody has googled peonies envy...?


@Tulletilsynet http://www.peonysenvy.com/
the bigger the better!


@sox Yes yes yes on ranunculus, but I have literally told my husband to his face that they are the best flowers, and still he bought me dyed magenta daises. sigh.

sarah girl

TOTALLY DISAGREE on "mixed bunch"! It is my favorite, but mainly because I like oohing and aahing over all the colors and textures and wondering how a person can arrange them to all look nice together.

Anita Ham Sandwich

I and my equally shallow friends in college called carnations the "not getting any" flowers. Even a mixed bunch that included them dialed things back a base or two.

Noelle O'Donnell

The boy bought me orchids for valentines and I have never been more thrilled/terrified. They're beautiful but I am dreading the day all the flowers die and I have to regrow the stems.


I'll just copy and paste from a previous discussion of peonies:

If someone got me peonies I would think it meant "I want you to have a post traumatic flashback about how all the peonies in your grandmothers garden were covered, chock full, of ants. And the way you found this out was the time you were six and you picked one because you thought it was pretty and the ants started crawling all over you and you screamed and screamed and cried and your mom took all your clothes off and hosed you down to convince you that all the ants were really off."

And now I'll go have nightmares about ants.


Also! Succulents: I am hoping we stay together long term but I don't have much faith in your ability to keep things alive, so here's a plant that's hard to kill.

Cacti: Like succulents, but with more make-up sex.


Hydrangeas are one of my favourites. Am I doomed to love gay men?? :(


Any Flower: We're your parents and we love you despite your failure to live up to our expectations. Happy Valentine's Day/Birthday/Easter


I want to high-five each and every person who commented on this.


@VictorVictrola also, team peonies, but then also a nod for dahlias!



If you take care of the peonies, the dahlias take care of themselves.


Umm, what about irises? They are purple and yellow and totally gorgeous!

Cleolinda Jones@twitter

@Hella Yes! I also like light blue irises. I like any irises!

I'm gonna have to go get the memory of my father sending me red roses for my birthday erased, though.


@Hella: YES! Irises.


@Hella I can't believe it took this long for someone to mention irises! I love all these flowers, but irises (particularly the blue/yellow dutch ones you mention) are the bomb. My wife's bouquet at our wedding featured them prominently.


Okay, but, what does it mean if a girlfriend has an orchid delivered to your house, but it's dead? ie. no root?
"I have more money and class than any man you have ever hooked up with, and I know you can't keep a damn plant alive, so don't even bother trying?"


SUNFLOWERS SUNFLOWERS SUNFLOWERS. Beautiful and GIGANTIC but still a little butch. Sunflowers are the flowers of equality. (Bras are an evil tool of the patriarchy anyway.)


@agreenballoon YES! Especially RED Sunflowers--but even more especially when they mix with the yellow ones in your yard and the next year you get Sunflowers with maroon around the center and lovely edge of yellow. Plus, they are SOOO easy to grow!


@CurlsMcGirlypants and so attractive to goldfinches and other nice birds!


@Sean_P Right!? We get some wild Lovebirds that like to visit our Sunflowers! Sooooo adorable.


My brothers wedding (for which I have had to dye my hair not pink to make the pictures look boring - and ignore the fact i don't believe in marriage) has calla lilies as their main flower.

Now not only will I have to not think about how much the bride reminds me of Bland from Arrested Development, I'll have to not think about the flowers being vaginas.

This wedding is going to kill me by internal laughter.


I'm glad my girlfriend doesn't like flowers.

Also it's "vulva", not "vagina".


What do you want, good grammar or good taste?

Springtime for Voldemort

@mshack007 Well, but calla lilies have both the external and internal quality of the female genitals. So vulva isn't any more correct than vagina. To which I nominate: pussy (all the female genitals, not just interior or just exterior). Also, what is the adjective form of "pussy" (you know, like "vaginal" is to "vagina")? Pussal? Pussyal?

Kate Kane

'Calla Lilies' just made the photos I have of my grandparents wedding realllllly uncomfortable.


Peonies are how you get ants in the house.


My boyfriend doesn't buy me the right flowers, I can't fit these $50 bills in my purse, and my diamond shoes are too tight.


Peonies are lovely, but i prefer the old classics: pompom dahlias, snapdragons-the red velvety ones! and cockscombs (also called celosia) including the plumed cockscombs. But the best of the best is the cockscombs that look like red velvet brains, bought them for a boy once and they went down a treat. flowers, you must have a favourite, you must!!!


I'm always excited for flowers, but can we talk about those filler flowers, like baby's breath? Pointless, take it out, it's distracting!


I know I'm late to the party, but wanted to share this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWzrN-hFkdA

PS Daffodils and tulips will always be the best

Liz Kaufman@facebook

@JaffaCakes Ugh, hate you for life. I'm on a diet, and jaffa cakes are my One True Love (behind Fry's orange cream bars) of British yummies. :(


this list made me snort my coffee. Hydrangeas: "I’m gay."


Oh no! The only thing my sir has gotten me has been tulips and a small mixed bouquet (after much prodding and hint dropping and out right demanding flowers). Better cut him loose I suppose?


A lot of the straight men I know, it is a miracle they don't show up with a cauliflower? They don't care about such stuff, it's like uh these are flowers? And then they buy them. So it might be dangerous to interpret them any particular way.

Still though, this was super fun to read.


Damn, and I like tulips. Ruined for me now.


A dozen red roses: "They were selling this at a grocery store/in a parking lot/so on and I bought it because I heard this was what I was supposed to do."

Meg Edmondson@twitter

This is hysterical!


I want everyone to stop badmouthing carnations. Yes, they're cheap, but as long as you stay away from the horrible dyed ones, I think they're quite attractive. Some have a pleasant, spicy scent too!

Danny boy

Very late to the party, but oh well.
My ex's favorite flower is the Siberian lily, and she has worked in a flower shop. No idea what they mean though...

dottie chang

After working in a flower shop, I can say that many males purchasing flowers for romantic interests enter a state of paralysis that can sometimes last for hours when it comes to choosing. Some men care--almost too much!

I am not exaggerating. I have had men stay in the store or return after hours because a) they just don't know what to get and are worried about sending the wrong message with the wrong choice, b) they can't remember what their lady said is their favorite and they don't want to be in trouble for getting the wrong one and c) their anxiety about their romantic life has manifested in their inability to find the Flowers To End All Problems. A lot of the fear seems to be about getting in trouble!

My favorite are the men who come in to buy multiple arrangements for their multiple (!) girlfriends.

What follows at my shop:
Red roses=I want be clear about wanting to sex you up
Pastel roses=Hello Friend! or New baby! or I love Mom!
Sunflowers=You are in the hospital!
Cheap plant=Get well! or Gift for office mate!
Lillies=I am taking this to a church
Mixes of cut orchids and roses are the most popular. According to your guide it means that I want to sex you up but in a classy, upscale way.

A note about orchids. Not all orchids are the same and some may die quickly because they are cheap, no matter how well you care for them! My flower shop sold orchids that were grown locally by a family farm and they were healthy and strong. They came straight from their greenhouse to our store. The cheapie ones at Ikea and Home Depot have been trucked around, stored in poor conditions, are poorly taken care of and come from poorly stock on big sad far away farms.

After working in a flower shop, I don't really want flowers given to me because I am scarred for life by working on Valentine's Days (the peak of human panic and weird emotional issues that somehow get displaced onto florists) and Mother's Days (when many men and children act so cheap and stingy that you pity their wives and mothers). Also, flowers are disgustingly dirty and are bathed multiple times in fungicides before you ever get them.

Springtime for Voldemort

@dottie chang "I want to sex you up but in a classy, upscale way." Is that like when it's doggie-style with lots of dirty talk, and you're wearing emerald drop earrings and the two of you take breaks to feed each other brie and profiteroles (aka "Versailles-style")?

Reiko Sarah Guevarra@facebook

“I love your blog. I really like the "The Modern Meanings of Flowers", reports on your blog. I also have "The Right Way to Plant Flower Garden". support website at plantsflowers.org

Rory Hoffman@facebook

Nobody in this site has mentioned pansies! They have so many advantages: variety in color, shape, and markings, it's not as ostentatious (not filled with a billion ruffles or poking your eye out with a phallus), and as clinical as Wikipedia tries to be about it, it still reads heavily Romantic.


Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! bulk sms

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