I remember planning a fundraiser for my FFA Chapter in high school. My best friend and I were in charged of the Valentine’s Day flower sale. We had this bright idea of selling flowers with meanings behind the type of flower and it’s color. Our unique fundraiser was successful! As the years went on and my love for plants grew, my inner and outer circles got the hint that plants were a huge part of my life. People sent me plants memes or random plants facts that brightened up my day. My indirect colleague tagged me in a post on Facebook, that recently popped up on my Facebook Timeline, about “Insult Bouquets”. Today’s article is going to be on the history of these Insult Bouquets and where they originated from, flowers and their meanings that went into an insult bouquet, and I am going to get creative and share my top five flowers that I would add into an insult bouquet.
Insult Bouquets were popular during the Victorian Era, which was from 1837 to 1901. During the Victorian Era, that’s when we start to see flowers start to have meaning in communication. There were floral dictionaries to accompany the budding floriography, the language of communicating through flowers. As the practice of botany became popular, flowers developed meanings and throughout time. We see forms of floriography in the Bible and in Shakespeare, specifically in Ophelia. Overtime, writers and botanist wrote books on decoding meanings of flowers since sending bouquets were such a huge craze. Two books that are out there is Le Language de Fleursand written in Paris 1819 as one of the earliest floral dictionaries and there is Flora Symbolica by John Ingram. Flora Symbolica was not just a dictionary, it was also an etiquette guide on giving the correct flower(s) to give the correct message. There are so many pieces of literature that share meanings of plants, flowers, and herbs to give either a meaningful message or an insult.
I feel that the Victorian era was a very dainty and proper era. Things like flirting or talking about relationships were taboo. Flowers had the ability to say things that people could not say. Angelica meant inspiration, pink carnations meant I’ll never forget you, red chrysanthemums meant I love you, Daisy meant innocence, and Heliotrope meant enteral love. There are so many other flowers that have meaning to them - the link to the list is at the bottom of the page. When we arrange these flowers; they become an overall meaning. Combing gardenia, calla Lily, and red roses would mean “I love you my beautiful, secret love”. Taking oak leaves and combining them with hollyhock would pass on a message of “one having strength and ambition” which would be a wonderful, positive message to a friend. Give a Sunflower steam would mean that you adore someone. These positive messages could end up being the start of something new when it comes to the matters of the heart or it can show appreciation to people who are close to you. However, not all flowers represent positive affirmations. People during the Victorians Era also sent insult bouquets to send messages of rejection from a lover or to send a petty message. Begonia means beware, Butterfly Weed means let me go, yellow Carnation means rejection, and cyclamen means goodbye. A bouquet of blue hyacinth and geraniums combined would send a message of “you’re consistent with your stupidity”. Sending an orange lily stem would symbolize hatred, and a bouquet of lavender would represent distrust.
The possibilities to send flowers as messages are endless. We still send flowers today. We have flowers for weddings, funerals, and Valentine’s Day. Flowers still have meanings to them but the times have changed the way we communicate. It is so easy for us to send a snarky and passive aggressive messages behind our phones where insult bouquets are no longer needed. We can simply log into Facebook and leave that snarky message or tweet something petty on Twitter. In no way I am encouraging using the ability to be mean; I believe in harmonizing with those around you and being kind to everyone. We have the ability to vocalize taboo thoughts that people during the Victorian Era could not do. If insult bouquets were a thing of the present since the field of botany as grown tremendously, I would include these flowers with the following meanings:
Straw Flower (Xerochrysum bracteatum): Fake appearance/fake personality
Cactus Blossom (Mammillaria spinosissima, or any flowering variety): Betrayal
Stock (Matthiola incana): Strongly dislike [SIDE NOTE: Stock is a flower I am not fond of]
Oleander (Nerium oleander): toxic personality
Solidago (Solidago canadensis): annoyance
Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) displaying weak qualities
If you were able to create an insult bouquet what flowers would you use? What would their meaning be in them? Thank you so much for reading my blog article on Insult Bouquets! Have you ever given a message through flowers? What was the meaning behind it? Comment below!
I would like to dedicate this blog post to a very, forever special individual in my life. My coworker Mike who is now resting in paradise. Even though he did not like flowers or anything with roots, he would definitely would love a good laugh by sending an insult bouquet. Thank you for everything you’ve taught me for the past eight years of my life at the Garden Center. Thank you for being an uncle figure in my life. You weren’t just a coworker, you were my friend. I will miss you so much.