The Symbolism of Rose Colors Explained

red rose bushes main

Flowers symbolize many things.  Roses basically cover the whole gamut all by themselves. They are not just red, but cover all the colors of the rainbow. Each color symbolizes different things.  Red roses symbolize passionate love. Yellow roses are in the friend zone.  White roses symbolize purity. And, blue roses symbolize the impossible dream.  

So Many Colors 
Roses are red
And pink, yellow, white.
Lots of colors (even blue),
All a pretty sight! 

When writing about friendship symbols, yellow roses was one of several cited as an example.  

The famous poem aside, roses are not just red.  There are over 2500 varieties in a range of colors.  Blue roses might even be found in nature one of these days.  

And, each color symbolizes something else.  You don’t want to confusingly mix and match here!  So, let us examine the various colors of roses and what they all represent.  

Red Roses 

Red is a very popular color for roses as seen by the famous poem (not my version).  

Red, the color of blood, is a very passionate color.  Red can have special spiritual significance, symbolizing the blood of Christ, or other martyrs.  

Red roses are also a symbol of love.  If you give your significant other a bouquet of red roses, you are sending a message that you love them.  Aren’t you glad you read this?  

Yellow Roses

Yellow roses were first discovered growing in the Middle East around 1800.  

In the Islamic tradition, yellow roses are said to have first appeared from the falling sweats of traveling “al-buraq,” a flying centaur-like creature that carried prophets

A tale also grew that Muhammad, used red roses to test his wife’s fidelity.  If the red roses retained their color when dropped into water, all will be well. Unfortunately, the roses turned yellow.  A sign of infidelity (he did forgive her eventually).  

Yellow roses for a long time symbolized infidelity and jealousy.  Greeks believe yellow roses are like gold, symbols of precious things.  Mexicans relate yellow roses to corn, symbols of abundance.  Others believe yellow roses are symbols of prayer and requesting forgiveness.

A modern belief also developed, the cynics believe to help sell them, that yellow roses symbolize friendship and love.  Yellow roses are “friends zone” flowers. 

Orange Roses

Orange is a mixture of yellow and red.  So, orange roses might be a symbol of those not sure about their relationship.  Is it out of the friend zone?  Maybe not?  A sort of hedge.

Orange roses also symbolizes good humor and enthusiasm.  As well as desire.  Hmm.  

Fans of the show Friends might remember Bonnie, a girlfriend of Ross.  She was a good sport while not ready to say the “l” word.  Ross should have given her a bouquet of orange roses.  

Orange roses also symbolize mercy.  And, yes, Bonnie was a very good sport about Ross’ antics.  

Pink Roses 

Pink symbolizes a little girl.  Pink baby colors.  It also symbolizes innocence and freshness.  Ironically, somehow, a “pink slip” became a more unwanted path to a fresh new start.  

Pink roses can symbolize a range of things though I am not aware of any “pink slip” roses.  Maybe, if your honey has a sense of humor.  Pink roses are more likely to symbolize gentleness as compared to more passionate red roses.  They can symbolize new relationships.   

Pink roses can also symbolize tenderness, happiness, and gratitude.  I think it is not a coincidence that this is often what an ideal woman often symbolizes.  

White Roses 

The White Rose was a non-violent resistance group of German youths during World War II.  The name was well chosen because white roses symbolize purity and innocence. 

White is a “clean” color such as if you have a white shirt without any stains.  A baby might be clothed in a white outfit when they are baptized.  Women wear white on their wedding day.   Rain on your wedding day?  That would be ironic.  

White roses can also symbolize new beginnings, like births and marriages.  They can therefore symbolize the promise of good news and success. A good flower for a first day of business.

Purple Roses 

Roses are red, violets are blue.  Some roses are purple; when scientists once tried to create blue roses, they came out more the color of lilacs.  Basically, a purple color.  

Purple is the symbol of royalty, the dyes used to make purple clothing rare and expensive. Purple roses also symbolize elegance and grand things.  They also can symbolize love at first sight.   

Blue Roses 

Four-leaf clovers are rare and symbols of good luck.  Blue roses simply do not exist.  

They symbolize what you cannot have, but so desperately want.  Who does not dream impossible dreams?  One of these days, a family member of mine will win that million-dollar lottery.   

Blue roses exist in poetry, paintings, and can be created with a bit of blue dye.

Once you have them, blue roses can also symbolize mystery, baby boys, and patriotism (red, white, and blue!).  They also symbolize unrequited love. 

Black Roses 

A pure black rose does not exist in nature.  Some deep red, maroon, or purple roses might be close.  But, to create black roses, florists dye, spray, dip or even burn their flowers.

Black often symbolizes death or night, making black roses suitable for mourning, including at funerals.  Death, however, also is part of life and rebirth.  A sort of optimistic approach.

Black roses can symbolize the end of a relationship.  They also can be a good gift for vampires and such, being symbols of evil and dark arts.  Or, for Halloween. 

Black roses also symbolize revenge.  So, though black roses can symbolize rebirth, usually black roses are not ideal.  Unless the person has a “dark personality,” such as Morticia Addams.  


Roses have a range of symbolism.  This even includes the number of roses given to someone.  

A single rose can be a simple statement, especially a basic “I love you.”  On the show The Bachelor, each woman hopes to be “the one” who receives that final red rose. 

A dozen roses is the basic amount, twelve being the symbol of completeness (twelve months).  Two dozen would be “going the extra mile.”  A whole bunch really emphasizes the message. 

Be careful.  If you try too hard, you might need to get some blue or black roses. 

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