Colors of Roses & What They Mean

Roses have been used for centuries to send secret messages: The Latin phrase "sub rosa," meaning "under the roses," is a euphemism for telling a secret. Over the years, certain meanings have been assigned to specific rose colors, and those meanings continue to endure. By choosing the appropriate color to convey a message, you can use flowers to say what you truly feel.

Colors of Roses & What They Mean


Red is the most popular rose color and is symbolic of love, romance and passion. The color red itself is often associated with the Greek and Roman goddess of love. Sending a bouquet of red roses is considered the ultimate way to say, "I love you."


Pink roses are sent to convey admiration, joy or appreciation. They are among the most common roses growing in the wild. The shade of pink can be used to convey different messages. Dark pink roses denote gratitude and are often sent as a thank-you. Light pink roses are used to express admiration and are often sent in sympathy. In general, pink roses are associated with elegance, grace and sweetness.


Yellow roses symbolize friendship and joy. When they were first cultivated in the 18th century, the color yellow had negative connotations, particularly with jealousy. It would take time before yellow roses became associated with more positive emotions. Yellow roses have a platonic connotation that pink and red roses do not convey.


In general, white signifies purity, innocence and honor. Originally, white roses were the symbol of true love that is now conveyed through red roses. White roses are often seen at weddings, so they have also become associated with unity and virtue. Because of their association with reverence and honor, white roses are often sent to a funeral as an expression of sympathy.


An orange rose means desire, passion and enthusiasm. They are also associated with warmth and sweetness. Peach roses are considered a shade of orange. The first orange roses were developed by horticulturalists in the late 19th century. Since orange is made from mixing red and yellow, the orange rose is sometimes seen as a cross between romantic love and friendship. Orange can be seen as soothing or fiery, depending on the context.


Lavender roses have traditionally been used to convey love at first sight. They may also symbolize enchantment and romance. For centuries, purple has been the color of royalty, so lavender roses have a certain air of majesty. Lavender can also signify sincere love and appreciation.


Blue roses do not occur naturally. As such, they have come to represent mystery and things that are unattainable. Sometimes lavender and purple roses share these sentiments, because they are part of the blue color family.

Kim Kenney

I have been a professional historian, museum curator, and author for more than a decade. I have served as the Museums Editor at BellaOnline since 2004. I am qualified to serve as an expert in a variety of historical topics. My expertise includes the Victorian Age and McKinley's presidency, the Roaring Twenties, the 1950s, the flu, museum studies, material culture, architecture, and more. I have a BA in history and an MA in history museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Please see my bio on my employer's website for more: