Meaning & Symbolism of Different Color Roses

Let the roses speak for you about your gratitude, love, and appreciation.

Updated April 25, 2023

Few flowers carry as much meaning before you even dive into the colors quite like roses. Throughout time, from Shakespeare to "A Rose from Emily" to Beauty and the Beast to The Bachelor, a rose and its color carries a weighty significance. Are you sending the right message when you offer someone roses?

Stop and smell the roses as you explore the meanings and symbolism of different colored roses.

Rose Symbolism and Meaning

Most importantly, popularly, and universally, the rose symbolizes romance and love. But rosebuds are also a symbol of beauty and courage. Of course, there are other meanings implied depending on context and the culture: desire, admiration, and passion, for instance.

But the meaning of a rose can twist and change depending on the color, amplifying the message of love or signifying the love you have for a platonic friendship. In fact, you can build a bouquet of roses into a message using different colors. And sometimes a message with no words is more powerful.

Symbolism of Rose Colors

The meaning and implication of the different colors require context: some cultures may not view the yellow rose to be that of friendship. Steer clear of black roses, unless you want to make your message of unhappiness and despair quite clear. With roses coming in red, white, yellow, pink, orange, and purple, there are meanings of gratitude, passion, appreciation, and joy. This rose color chart shows the most common meanings of roses and their colors.

Color Meaning
Red Love, devotion, passion
White Young love, virtue, new beginnings
Yellow Friendship, joy, warmth
Pink Elegance, gratitude, admiration
Orange Sincerity, enthusiasm, warmth
Purple Enchantment, adoration, regality

Red Rose Symbolism

Red roses are iconic. Full stop. Nothing catches the eye quite like a bush or bouquet of bright red roses. It is a truth universally acknowledged that roses are a symbol of love, passion, and romance. Whether Mr. Darcy agrees is another thing. Dark red roses and burgundy roses are a sign of commitment and romantic devotion, and lighter reds are symbols of feminity and elegance. Gift red roses to your partner as a sign of your passion and commitment.

White Rose Symbolism

Like many white flowers, including tulips, lilacs, and carnations, white roses signify innocence, loyalty, and purity. For some, white roses can even be a sign of a message from beyond or from angels. You can also find that white roses are a sign of humility, can connote new beginnings, or even be a symbol of young love. They stand for virtue and unity. They're perfect for new relationships and anniversaries.

Similarly, cream and ivory roses are a sign of thoughtfulness, love, perfection, and grace. They're perfect for when you want someone to know you're thinking of them. Not all view white roses this way. In Asian countries, white flowers mean mourning or death.

Yellow Rose Symbolism

Like sunshine and sunflowers, yellow roses symbolize joy and friendship. This is a universally accepted interpretation. A sign of love between friends, yellow roses also signify enlightenment, happiness, and confidence. In other cultures, yellow roses stand for wisdom and power. When you think of yellow roses, think of warmth and optimism.

Quick Tip

If you're ever worried about what your bouquet of roses will imply, often the safest bet is yellow roses. Unless, that is, you want the receiver to know you're interested in them romantically. Then stick to red or pink.

Pink Rose Symbolism

Not quite as bold and passionate as red roses, pink roses stand for appreciation, admiration, and gratitude. Soft pink roses convey gentleness, elegance, sweetness, and femininity. Often, pink roses are a symbol of first love (they're perfect for proms) as well as the joy and happiness that comes along with it.

Salmon roses push the envelope and are a message of excitement and enthusiasm with platonic admiration. These roses, both pink and salmon, are perfect for decoration, or giving to teachers, friends, or anyone you admire or appreciate.

Need to Know

Once upon a time, thornless pink roses were given as a sign of love at first sight.

Orange Rose Symbolism

Just like you mix red and yellow to make orange, so do the symbols of these roses. Orange roses are an expression of friendship, loyalty, passion, and gratitude. Don't forget liveliness and happiness - after all, they're as vibrant and colorful as yellow roses. When you gift orange roses, you're giving a message of energy, enthusiasm, and motivation.

Peach roses are a little quieter but still represent sincerity, gratitude, and friendship. A sign of sweetness, they're still a thoughtful rose to give to anyone. Green roses, while exceedingly rare, are another symbol of joy and cheerfulness. But also hope, fertility, and rejuvenation or new life - much like white roses.

Purple or Lavender Rose Symbolism

Purple or lavender-colored roses are unique, so it makes sense that they're a symbol of enchantment and adoration. Sometimes a bit mystical, purple is a color of royalty as well. Those deep purple roses imply splendor and regalness. And, like most roses, they're an indication of happiness, too. You can give purple roses to anyone you value, especially those you look up to.

The rare blue rose is also a motif for mystery, far more than that of purple roses. Since they don't exist in nature, it's easy to understand why they're a symbol of unrequited love. Light blue roses aren't as blue, for those imply sensitivity and softness. Maybe skip the blue roses.

The Language of Roses and Their Colors

From passionate, romantic red roses, to the friendly yellow rose, to the enchanting lavender roses, there's no shortage of what you can say with just a few rosebuds. And if you can't decide, you can turn to rainbow roses with their colorful, tie-dye message of happiness and joy. Whichever color rose you choose to gift, make sure the message aligns with what you're saying.

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Meaning & Symbolism of Different Color Roses