Symbolic Meanings Of Roses By Colour & Number; A Complete Guide, UK

January 05, 2024 6 min read

A unique guide to the Symbolic Meanings Of Roses By Colour & Number

Everyone recognises a red rose as the symbol of undying love, and are a go to gift for wedding anniversaries, but why red and why just one rose? Should it not be a dozen blooms or is that just a conspiracy propagated by florists every year on St. Valentine’s Day? This is your complete guide to the fascinating, historic and symbolic meaning of roses by colour and number.    

Learn the hidden meaning of this iconic flower from the  colour, and the significance of the message from the number of stems. Become your own expert and choose just the right number and shade to make the most perfect statement on that very special occasion. You may also be interested in adding the perfect Valentine's Day message to your Valentine's day card.


Beautiful Valentine's Day Card To Go With Your Roses

Valentines Day Pop Up Card - Floral Crown Pop Up Card

If you are still looking for a special Valentines Day Card that will surprise and delight the recipient, then our Floral Crown Pop Up Card ticks all the boxes!

When opened, up pops a regal crown with lots of flowers including red roses and peonies spilling out - what's not to love!  Click here to check out the rest of the Valentine's Day collection



Roses: the language of love

The rose has a long and illustrious history documented in prose, verse and art and is deeply associated with relationships, with roses of varying colours and shades representing different emotions, symbols and meanings.  As the flower of beauty and love, the rose needs no introduction, harking back to the time that Cleopatra scattered rose petals on the floor of her boudoir to seduce Mark Antony.  Even before then to the earliest story, the Virgin Mary is described as ‘the rose without thorns’ and often represented in artwork within an enclosed garden of roses.   The five petals of the wild rose are associated with the five joys of Mary. [1] There are so many more examples throughout the centuries where the significance and representation of this ancient and beautiful flower speaks volumes.  This guide will examine the meaning of roses by their colour and number so that you can learn to speak the language of the rose and create your own defining message of love.

The meaning of Roses by colour

All roses were originally white until, as the legend would have it, the ancient Greek Goddess, Aphrodite, pricked her finger upon the thorns on a stem and turned the roses red with her blood.  Now, roses are available in many different colours, each with its own meaning and significance.  

Red rose meaning

In simple terms, the red rose means, ‘I love you’, the richness of the red reflecting the depth of feeling behind the gesture of giving, the red rose signifies eternal love and undying passion.

A single red rose is a romantic symbol that says I love you. This is a more understated way of showing your affection towards someone and can be used on dates, where a dozen roses may seem too much or on romatic occasions so say you still love them! 

A dozen red roses means 'be mine' and can be used for special romatic occasions such as birthdays, Valentine's Day & anniversaries. Remember, use flowers in a thoughtful way so that the meaning isn't lost! For instance, a single rose with a Valentine's Day message can add to the romance.


Image of read roses with text overlay reading 'Red Roses signifies eternal love and undying passion'

Meaning of Red Roses | Photo Credit: from Pexels

Meaning Of Pink Roses

The meaning of pink roses is more dilute and a softer interpretation of the bold red, so pink roses mean sweetness, grace and a gentleness which is reflected by the lighter, paler colour.  There is a classic elegance to the pink rose and an endless romance which may act as a precursor to the later giving of red roses or simply standalone as something timeless and eternal.


image of pink roses with text overlay reading "Pink roses signify endless romance.  Something timeless and eternal"

Meaning of Pink Roses | Photo Credit:

White rose symbolism & meanings

The everlasting colour of peace and also purity.  White roses are a popular choice at weddings because of their association with chastity, virginity and innocence and they were the original rose of love before the red rose stole the show. 

White roses were particularly popular in the Victorian era as the flower of courtship and white roses were present in abundance at Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840. 

There is a serenity and dignity about white roses which also make them a favourite choice for funerals and some people do feel that white roses mean death. 

They are particularly appropriate for the loss of a close one, representing a departing love.  There is also a Christmas rose, a five petal white bloom that flowers at Christmas time and is associated therefore with the nativity and the mother of Christ


image of white roses with text overlay reading "Innnocence, Purity and Peace"

Meaning of White Roses | Photo Credit:

Yellow Roses Meaning

With its association with the sun, the meaning of the yellow rose is a soft message of platonic love, support and appreciation.  

Yellow is a more neutral colour suitable for a number of occasions but it demonstrates warmth, healing and optimism in abundance


image of yellow roses with text overlay which reads "Platonic love, support and appreciation"

Meaning of Yellow Roses | Photo Credit:


What do orange roses mean?

Orange roses convey a meaning of enthusiasm and  passion which can be applied as a defining statement to many different occasions

The orange rose signifies a heat and intensity which is represented by this fiery colour.  An orange rose makes a statement of depth, purpose and intent in almost any situation other than one of true love for which the red rose is reserved.

A single orange rose shows that you find someone irresistible and are passionate about them. Use the orange rose as a romantic gesture when you want to make a statement.


The meaning of orange roses & single roses. Orange roses with text reading "Heat, Intensity and Passion"

Meaning of Orange Roses | Photo Credit: Jeff Wang from


Mixing colours in a bouquet can alter or enhance the message.  A wedding arrangement might include white roses and one red stem added by the groom, the red representing undying love and the white the creation of a new union going forward.  Rich hues of orange, yellow and dark pink can symbolise a reverence and depth of platonic emotion and appreciation in a stunning combined bouquet full of warm and sincere tones.  Pink, yellow and white roses convey an ice-cream sweetness and a fresh, colourful innocence. 

Does the number of roses chosen also have a meaning?


A bouquet of roses conveys a sentiment not only from the choice of colour of the blooms but also from the number of stems. 

A dozen red roses is the iconic gift from one lover to another but what is the meaning of a single red rose or three roses? 

A single red rose is the gift of a new lover, a token to be placed on the table at dinner, carefully contrived to convey interest, admiration and intent but representative of a courtship in the early stages; a dozen red roses may be appropriate later on. 

A single white rose can have many meanings as the white rose is a popular choice at both weddings and also as a funeral flower.  A single white rose may be a mark of respect, an emblem of peace or an understatement of deep and dignified reverence depending on the occasion.

A pair of roses may, depending on the colour, indicate a shared love, union or simply friendship.  A duo of roses signify a connection and the roses may be different colours. 

Three red rose blooms are a popular token to represent the phrase, ‘I love you’, one stem for each word, and are also commonly given on the one month anniversary of a fledgling relationship. 

Half a dozen roses are a real statement of intent and commitment and then a dozen red roses are a total pledge of undying love and commitment.

Other interesting facts about roses


  • Not just a beautiful flower, rose petals and rose oil have been highly prized for centuries and are still used today for their therapeutic properties; rose oil has anti-inflammatory and moisturising effects as well as a soothing and calming scent
  • The rose bears its own fruit, called the Rose hip which forms after pollination and is ripe and ready to pick towards the end of summer. Rose hip is famed for its high levels of Vitamin C and is used to make tea, syrup, jams and jellies
  • The name Rose has an enduring popularity as a choice for newborns. In the last twenty years, Rosie has always featured pretty high in the name stakes but Rose now is in the ascendancy.  Flower names were first made popular by the Victorians and then fell out of favour in the post war years of the last century as they were deemed to be old-fashioned, not so any more.  A rose by any other name...
  • The Wars of the Roses refer to a series of civil conflicts between the two rival factions within the Royal House of Plantagenet, the House of Lancaster and the House of York between 1455 and 1487. Both Houses were identified by their heraldic badges, the white rose of the House of York and the red rose of the House of Lancaster, hence the name of the conflict


So, armed with your new knowledge about colour and number, feel confident that you can select an appropriate and meaningful gift.  Follow in the footsteps of all those in the centuries before who have celebrated human emotion through the medium of this most iconic and beautiful of flowers, the rose.



Keith Saye
Keith Saye

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