by Amanda Rose Newton
Our gardens speak to us in many ways. Plants let us know with wilted leaves, spotting, or mottled color that they are thirsty, sick, or require food. Holes and pieces missing from plants provide clues that tell you that you have had animal visitors to the garden.
We have spoken often on this blog about the use of flowers to send secret messages to loved ones, peaking in popularity during the Victorian Era.
Since plant color and species can stand in for words and phrases, it is not surprising; there is a flower for every month of the year!
In celebration of all the June babies, of which I am one, this week we are taking a look at the meaning behind the flowers representing our entry into the world.
Keep this list handy for times you need a special birthday gift for a plant-affectionate in your life.
January – Carnation or Snowdrop
The dead of winter is not known for its flower diversity and the representatives this month are a few of the only that relish the cold.
Carnations are the most requested at florist shops next to this month’s featured flower, the rose, because of its ability to be easily grown even during the most dismal point in the year.
Snowdrops bloom through March and are known for resembling snow due to their milky white blooms.
Carnations in particular are known to represent admiration, deep love, affection, gratitude, and luck. All feelings we associate with the fresh start of the year and a fitting tribute to those born during the month of optimistic hope.
Outside of the florist, carnations are not the easiest plants to find in Florida, though we do carry them as an annual early spring.
Alternatives: In case carnations are not easy to acquire (or in the case of snowdrops, impossible this far south), camellias are readily available in the winter and have a similar meaning. Better yet, they can be used to make tea on a rare cool evening.
February – Violets
From amethysts to violets, February babies cannot get away from purple!
Though Valentine’s Day is the official rose holiday, violets have long been associated with February since the Victorian era. Those born in February were expected to possess modesty, faithfulness, and virtue…the gift of a violet serves as a reminder to always rise to that caliber.
Alternatives: Violets are available year-round, thanks to the popularity of African violets. If you are looking to up your gifting game, certain species are edible and would make for an envy-worthy cupcake topper.
March – Daffodils
The daffodil is one of the earliest indicators that spring is on the way and up North where they’re common, they are a sign the bitter cold is on the way out.
As such, daffodils represent new beginnings, vanity, good luck, and faithfulness.
While common throughout the United States, including being available for short-lived growth indoors, they will not prosper here in Florida.
Alternatives: If a potted indoor plant won’t do, look for other fun spring bulbs to keep the theme going, such as gladiolus– which coincidentally also signifies faithfulness!
The calla lily which performs well here from season to season also signifies new beginnings, making it an appropriate choice for anyone born in March.
April – Daisy
No matter where you are in the country, spring has officially entered the year by April’s end.
Spring flowers will soon be at their peak, and daisies are one of the most memorable.
Those born in early spring are said to possess purity, innocence, and classic maternal traits. Additionally, the transformation into a full-blown spring is represented by gifting a daisy.
The daisy is part of the largest flower family, the Asters, so the number of sizes, colors, and growth habits are incredible. Choose several different types to create a one-of-a-kind arrangement or planter for a loved one that will be the most memorable and touching gifts received.
May – Hawthorn
With so many flowers in bloom by May, it’s easy for some to go unnoticed. The hawthorn— which is actually a small shrub, not an herbaceous flower– features a pink-tipped white bloom that is quite striking for those who take a moment to look.
These small flowers give rise to red or purple berries, which are often used as filler in floral bouquets.
Lily of the Valley is another flower linked to May that unfortunately does not grow in Florida. Both represent chastity, purity, and sweetness, which is a direct reflection of the delicate spring season.
Alternatives: Indian Hawthorn, available as a small shrub, is a member of the Hawthorn family and makes a nice gift for someone in need of a hedge. If something smaller is desired, consider a white flower of any variety, as the color itself conveys the same meaning.
June – Rose and Honeysuckle
According to Victorian tradition, babies born in June were meant to be honored, adored, and loved. Both roses and honeysuckle convey this message to the recipient and lucky for us June babies, both do well here in Florida!
Alternatives: With roses and honeysuckle being so readily available, you shouldn’t need an alternative. Feel free to put your own personal spin on your gift by utilizing the various meanings of roses by color and give both a verbal and visual rainbow to your favorite June baby!
Florida has its own Native Honeysuckle vine which is lovely and attracts hummingbirds. Avoid planting nonnative and invasive Japanese honeysuckle if possible.
July – Water Lily
For many Floridians, by July you just want to be submerged in a pool or the ocean for most of the month. If this sounds like someone you know with a July birthday, a water lily is their spirit plant. Symbolizing rebirth, open-heartedness, and grace, it pays homage to the fact that summer is so fleeting, much like the water-lily bloom itself.
August – Gladiolus
Featuring the gladiolus, also known as the sword plant, fits perfectly for Leos! While gladiolus season is long over by August here in Florida, many of the characteristics it stands for, including strength, faithfulness, and integrity are well-represented by other members of the plant guild.
Alternatives: The purple coneflower also symbolizes strength and it happens to be both drought and heat tolerant. On top of that, it is a butterfly and bee magnet, making it the perfect addition for the August birthday recipient’s pollinator garden.
September – Aster
As we learned back in April, Asteraceae is the largest of all plant families, boasting upwards of 2000 different species.
Those born in September have their pick of any, as the “aster” is their birth flower! While different states or regions of the world have a flower that goes by the common name aster, it varies greatly. Therefore, you really can’t go wrong with any member of this cheery and robust family! Symbolizing wisdom and valor, it speaks to the strong nature of those born during a period of seasonal change.
If you want to go with Florida’s own aster, Stoke’s aster is a beautiful choice, with its light blue or lavender flower head and upright nature it is at home in just about any garden setting.
Alternatives: With so many to choose from, you probably don’t need another option, but if you happen to be giving a gift to a vine lover, morning glory is also a flower associated with the month of September.
October – Marigold
The month of pumpkin spice, jack-o-lanterns, and Halloween deserves a flower that screams fall. The humble marigold, with its bright yellow or orange colors certainly delivers!
Easy to care for and easy to grow, whether, in containers, in-ground, or a raised bed. It also boasts pest repelling power!
Perhaps those born in October are equally underrated, and thus well-represented by the flower’s meaning. Fierce love, passion, and creativity run through the veins of those born this month, making a creative floral project an ideal match for the giftee.
Alternative: If you know a marigold will not do, go for cosmos, which happens to be one of the prettiest cut flowers out there and evokes the same meanings.
November – Chrysanthemums
Taking a cue from October, November’s flower captures all the autumn feels: the mum!
Chrysanthemums scream fall to many of us, but during the Victorian era they were sent as messages of well wishes, love, and admiration.
We all want our Scorpios to be happy, healthy, and prosperous and a planter of beautiful fall foliage serves as a lovely reminder of this notion.
Alternative: If you know the gift recipient would prefer something else, both mangoes and dianthus share similar meanings and make for unique gifts.
December – Holly
In true spirt of the season, December’s flower is the holly. While the flower may be inconspicuous, the lovely foliage and berries make it quite the eye catcher!
We have several hollies that perform well in Brevard County, including the Dahoon, Eagleston, and Yaupon. Meaning protection, defense, and good fortune, it arms the recipient for the uncertainties of the new year ahead.
Alternatives: No room for a tree? If you want to stay on the holly theme, consider gifting Yaupon Holly Tea! A staple of early Native Americans, this “black drink” has the same caffeine content as coffee and is tasty to boot!
Choose local and purchase from St. Augustine’s own Yaupon Bros. who offer a nice selection of flavors (including lavender coconut…yes!!) in ready-to-gift tins.
Armed with the knowledge of the language of flowers, you can confidently find a meaningful present for even the most difficult person on your list to buy for!
Say it with plants, be remembered forever!