Discover 6 the Different Colors Of Carnations (and What Each Means)

Written by Heather Hall
Updated: November 14, 2023
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Key Points

  • Pink carnations symbolize appreciation, love, and joy and are associated with the Virgin Mary.
  • Red carnations symbolize deep love and admiration and have historical significance in socialism and women’s suffrage.
  • White carnations symbolize love, admiration, and good luck.

Welcome to the fascinating world of carnation symbolism. Through exploring the meaning behind each hue, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of these enchanting flowers and how they convey various emotions. Let’s embark on this colorful journey together!

What is a Carnation?

Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus) are flowering herbaceous perennials belonging to the genus Dianthus. The name “carnation” comes from the Latin word for “flower” (dianthus). Carnations come in many colors, from pink and white to yellow, red, and purple.

Carnations are easy to grow and require minimal care. Plant them in well-draining, organically rich soil in a sunny location. The plants need regular watering during the growing season but do not tolerate wet roots or waterlogged soils. Fertilize annually with an all-purpose fertilizer for best results. Deadhead spent flowers regularly to encourage blooming throughout the season and cut back stems after flowering has finished for new growth next year.

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1. Pink Carnation Symbolism

Top view front, copy space, close up, mock up, clipping path. Mothers day concept design. Beautiful fresh blooming baby pink color carnations isolated on bright white background.

When it comes to pink carnation symbolism, these flowers have a lot to say.

©insjoy/iStock via Getty Images

Pink carnations are a beautiful symbol of appreciation and admiration. They represent the sweetness of a relationship. You can give them as a gift to express an emotion of love, gratitude, and joy. Pink carnations are for Mother’s Day, birthdays, and anniversaries. However, they are also popular for other occasions, such as graduations and weddings.

People associate pink carnations with the Virgin Mary. According to Christian legend, when the Virgin Mary was crying at the cross, her tears fell to the ground and turned into pink carnations. This story has given the pink carnation a deep spiritual meaning, which is why people often use it to express heartfelt emotion.

Pink carnations are also a symbol of joy and happiness. People give them as gifts to celebrate the birth of a baby, and they are a popular choice for baby showers and christenings. Pink carnations commemorate special occasions, such as a couple’s wedding anniversary.

2. Red Carnation Symbolism

Red carnations.

In carnation symbolism, red is the color of passion and romance.


Red carnations symbolize admiration, deep love, and affection. They are the perfect gift for romantic occasions such as anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, and weddings. Red carnations have a rich history and a lot of historical significance.

The red carnation has been a symbol of socialism since the 19th century. It is said that the red carnation was a favorite flower of Karl Marx, and thus, it was a symbol of socialism adopted by many of his followers. The flower was also a favorite of French writer Victor Hugo, who was another influential figure in the socialist movement.

Red carnations were part of the women’s suffrage movement. A red carnation was the symbol of the British suffragettes and was adopted by other countries in the movement as well. People saw it as a symbol of hope and strength for women in their fight for equal rights.

In the United States, people give red carnations as a gift for Mother’s Day. The tradition of giving red carnations on Mother’s Day originated in the early 1900s when a woman in West Virginia started a movement to give a red carnation to every mother. Many other countries have now adopted this tradition.

Red carnations have many different meanings and symbols, which makes them the perfect gift for any occasion. Whether you are celebrating a romantic occasion, showing your appreciation for a special mother, or honoring the memory of a loved one, the symbolism of the red carnation is sure to be meaningful.

3. White Carnation Symbolism


If you are interested in carnation symbolism, you will be happy to learn that white is a symbol of good luck.


White carnations are a beautiful and timeless flower that carries with it a deep history and meaning. For centuries, white carnations were a symbol of love, admiration, and good luck. They are a symbol of purity and innocence, and people use them to express sympathy and remembrance.

On special occasions, white carnations symbolize the bond of love between two people. People often give them for engagements, weddings, and anniversaries. White carnations are to celebrate the birth of a baby or to congratulate someone on an accomplishment.

Historically, white carnations have been associated with several noteworthy figures. For example, the white carnation is seen as a tribute to President William McKinley, who was often given the flower by adoring supporters. White carnations were also used in remembrance of General Francisco Franco, who directed Spain’s Civil War and held power until his death in 1973.

Many people believe that white carnations bring luck and good fortune when worn on one’s lapel or presented as a gift. They express hope for the future and joy in times of sorrow.

Today, white carnations are still a popular choice for special occasions. Whether you’re looking to express your love for someone special, celebrate a momentous occasion, or simply show your appreciation for someone, white carnations are a timeless and beautiful choice.

4. Purple Carnation Meaning

Bridal bouquet

Various colors of carnations have different symbolism. Purple is for change and transformation.

©Andreas Steidlinger/iStock via Getty Images

Purple carnations are a symbol of capriciousness, unpredictability, and change. They represent a willingness to accept a situation that is changing and a desire to move forward. Purple carnations are a strong representation of resilience and strength, even in the face of difficult times.

When giving a purple carnation, it is important to understand what the color symbolizes. Depending on the occasion, purple carnations are great for going away parties, graduations, or any other occasion that signifies a big adventure to come.

Purple carnations are a beautiful way to honor and recognize someone special. Use purple carnations to show appreciation and excitement over someone’s achievements or hopes for the future. The color purple is a strong symbol of resilience and strength, and the carnation is a reminder that we can all keep going, even when times are tough.

5. Green Carnation Symbolism


Carnation symbolism is fascinating. Green is for renewal, solidarity, and hope.

©loveldy/iStock via Getty Images

Green carnations are a symbol of renewal, hope, and joy. People give them as a symbol of the start of something new and the promise of a bright future. Green carnations are a popular choice for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations, as they signify the start of a new chapter in one’s life.

The green carnation has a rich history and has been a symbol of solidarity and hope for many years. In the 19th century, Oscar Wilde wore one in a demonstration of his support for the LGBTQ+ community. In the 1920s, the Women’s Institute of America adopted the green carnation as their official emblem, signifying a commitment to building a better future for all.

Today, people gift green carnations to friends and loved ones as a symbol of hope and new beginnings. They are a popular choice for special occasions such as graduations, engagements, and weddings, as they signify the start of a new chapter in one’s life.

The green carnation is a timeless symbol of renewal, hope, joy, and solidarity. It is a popular choice for special occasions, as it conveys a sense of optimism and appreciation for the future. As the saying goes, “A green carnation for a new beginning.”

6. Yellow Carnation Meaning

Yellow carnation, live flowers in close-up

In carnation symbolism, yellow represents feelings of sadness, disappointment, sympathy, or rejection.


Yellow carnations are symbols of sadness or disappointment. In contrast to the other carnations’ colors, the yellow carnation is a symbol of things coming to an end or rejection.

Historically, yellow carnations are part of the story of a young man who refused to accept his beloved’s rejection. He had been in love with a girl and wanted to give her his heart in a flower. When he could not find a flower of the right hue, he prayed for a miracle, and yellow carnations grew miraculously in the spot where he had been standing.

Yellow carnations are a symbol of sorrowful feelings and an indication of rejection or unhappiness toward someone. Consequently, yellow carnations might not be the most suitable choice for special days like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

However, you can use yellow carnations for events where you expect gloom or despair. Giving someone yellow carnations with an apology note is a good idea. You can also use them to offer condolences for a tragic event, or take them to a funeral, or give them to a friend to express regret.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Fnadya76/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Heather Hall is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on plants and animals. Heather has been writing and editing since 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, Heather enjoys hiking, gardening, and trail running through the mountains with her dogs.

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