Pink carnations are among the world's most popular flowers and are continuously stocked by florists around the world. All flowers are said to have meaning, but pink carnations are well-known and widely recognized as being fraught with symbolism. Before you give them or wear them, it's important to know what pink carnations mean.

A pink carnation floating in a bowl of water.

History of Floral Language

A bride carries a bouquet of white and pink carnations.

Flower meanings were popularized in Europe in the 18th century, a fad that picked up in the English court and spread out among other countries in the region. Love features heavily in many different floral meanings, though some flowers are attached to different holidays and events. Historically, flowers have been given to convey everything from wishes of good luck to secret, burning love.

Carnation Origins

A pink carnation rests on an open page of a holy book.

Carnations have been purposefully cultivated for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks used the flowers in ceremonial crowns, which is from where the name "carnation," similar to coronation, is derived.

Ancient Rome also used the blossoms in tributes to the deities. Every color of the carnation--from deep red to bright white--has its own meaning, though pink carnations have arguably appeared in more literary and historical references.

One legend held that carnations bloomed during and after the death of Jesus Christ, a prominent figure in Christian religions. Carnations have been used not just to convey meaning. The flowers also have been used to create healing potions, dyes and flavors for food and spirits.


Pink carnations in a bouquet with an array of flowers.

Dianthus caryophyllus, more commonly known as carnations, are used frequently in floral arrangements, boutonnieres, corsages, bouquets and decor.

Three types of carnations are most commonly used by florists: large-flowered blossoms, which feature one bloom per flower; mini-carnations or "spray" carnations, upon which small flowers bloom in many bunches; and dwarf carnations, which are even smaller than the mini variety of the plant.


Flowers growing in a greenhouse.

Carnation flowers bloom with five petals and vary in color, growing in multiple shades of red, pink, purple and white. The blossoms, at full maturity, reach 2 to 3 inches around. The flower petals have a slightly serrated or rough-edged appearance. Native to Eurasia, carnations are now cultivated around the world. The flower blossoms are hardy, and the plant is easy to grow, helping to make carnations a popular choice among florists and gardeners.


A newborn baby sleeps next to a sprig of pale pink carnations.

In the original European language of flowers, carnations in any color were given to women to symbolize good luck. Today, the flower is the national symbol of Slovenia to represent love to newborn babies. The carnation is also the state flower of Ohio, and is the birth flower for the month of January.

In modern times, the carnation has become a symbol for Mother's Day to represent unforgotten or unforgettable love. Pink carnations mean "I'll never forget you," which is why they have become popular as a Mother's Day gift or decoration.