Just like how we use emojis today to convey a thought, idea, or emotion visually and simply, people in the victorian era used flowers. Common flowers all had very different meanings and the people sending them would use their secret meanings to try and say something to whoever they were sending it to. Meanings even varied between colors of the same flower. People would keep track of these meanings through guides and handbooks.

Activity Procedure

Creating a message as you would with emojis while texting.  Print out coloring pages and cut out the flowers for the students. Have the students color the flowers in. Then using their own set of flowers, have the students combine the images to create “bouquets” they would give to their friends, parents, siblings, neighbors, etc. . . 

English Bluebells
English Bluebells | Latin Name: Hyacinthoides non-scripta | Meaning: Kindness (Dave_S / CC-BY-2.0)


English Bluebell: Kindness 


Peony | Latin Name: Paeonia officinalis | Meaning: Bashfulness (Mitzi.humphrey / CC BY-SA 4.0)
Peony : Bashfulness 


Rosemary | Latin Name: Rosmarinus officinalis | Meaning: Remembrance (David R. Tribble / CC BY-SA 4.0)
Rosemary: Remembrance 


Tulip | Latin Name: Tulipia | Meaning: Passion (Jason Zhang / Public Domain)
Tulip: Passionate 


  Wallflower: faithfulness in adversity 

Purple Violet
Purple Violet | Latin Name: Viola | Meaning: Thoughts occupied with love (Famartin / CC BY-SA 4.0)
Purple Violet: You occupy my thoughts 


Lily-of-the-valley | Latin Name: Convallaria majalis | Meaning: Purity (Violmsyan / CC BY-SA 4.0)
White Violet: Innocence 


  Yellow violet: Rural happiness 


Aloe | Latin Name: Aloe succotrina | Meaning: Bitterness (Nikodem Nijaki / CC BY-SA 3.0)
Aloe: Bitterness 

Pomegranate | Latin Name: Punica granatum | Meaning: Conceit (Thamizhpparthi Maari / CC BY-SA 4.0)
Pomegranate: Conceited 
  Amaryllis: Splendid beauty or hesitant beauty or haughtiness 


Ivy leaf
Ivy leaf | Latin Name: Hedera helix | Meaning: Friendship (Rosser1954 / CC BY-SA 4.0)
Ivy Leaf: Friendship 

Apple Blossom
Apple Blossom | Latin Name: Malus domestica | Meaning: Preference (George Chernilevsky / Public Domain)
Apple Blossom: Preference  

Myrtle | Latin Name: Myrtus communis | Meaning: Good luck and love in marriage (Giancarlo Dessi / CC BY-SA 3.0)
Myrtle: Good luck, love in marriage 

Passion flower
Passion flower | Latin Name: Passiflora cerulea | Meaning: Mourning over the death of a loved one (Jhenderson777 / Public Domain)
Passionflower: Mourning over death of a loved one  
  Lily of the Valley: Purity 

Post Activity Discussion

Then have the students explain what they would use instead of these flowers to convey the same feelings today.

Use this opportunity to talk about how cultures may use the same object to convey the same meaning and how meanings change over time.

Further Reading