What’s in a name? Well, in the world of flowers, quite a lot. We know that flowers are said to have different meanings, and using flower names for girls and boys has been around for centuries. Each flower has a fascinating story and origin, so read on and find out how your favourite bloom earned its name – and how certain flower names have become more popular.
Popular Flower Names
First, let’s start with flower names for girls. Choosing a floral inspired name has always been popular - many believe it’s all down to the fact that a connection with nature inspires positivity. Whether that’s true or not, what we do know is that trends in naming our children after flora and fauna is not showing any danger of disappearing either - in the list of top 10 girl’s names for last year, two of them were nature inspired.
Let’s run you through some of our favourite flower names for girls.
Who wouldn’t want to choose this name when you consider the beautiful elegance of the flower? In Greek and Roman times, crowns of lilies were placed on the head of the bride in the hope of a pure and fruitful life. In the language of flowers, lilies are said to represent innocence and are also known throughout the temperate Northern Hemisphere for their beauty and resilience – making it a fantastic choice for your beautiful new arrival.
With the scientific name ‘Rosa’ also being used, it really is one of the most famous flowers across the world – both in a bouquet and as a name.
Given the story of its origin, the rose flower is all about adoration and love – perfect feelings to pass on to your newborn. Since the middle ages, Rose was a popular choice of baby name until the 20th century when it suddenly fell out of favour. Roll on a hundred or so years and this one is dusting itself off, last year it ranked 68th.
The ever lovely, Holly. With all the Christmas magic that this one delivers, it won’t surprise you to learn that the popularity of this name surges for any babies born in December. After all, it makes sense that this is also the birth month flower for December.
Despite only taken up as a name in the 19th century, this nature-inspired choice has been in and out of fashion more times than we care to mention. Up until the 1930’s it was incredibly popular before suddenly falling completely out of favour. Jump forward to the early 2000s and this one has shot up the charts and last year was the 5th most popular name.
Unfortunately, this one has slipped down the list and last year only reached 92nd place. A shame, when you consider the name comes from the Persian word ‘Yasmin’ which basically means ‘gift from God’ – also a popular name for girls in its own right. In the flower world, this plant also represents love and beauty. Oh, and if it couldn’t get any better, this flower smells pretty gorgeous too.
As the official flower of remembrance, poppies hold strong emotions in the UK. It’s no wonder this one is in the top 20 of popular girls' names. It’s probably down to the fact the name still feels modern. Throw in the fact that in the world of flowers, it stands for remembrance and hope, it seems the perfect choice for your new bundle of joy.
Unique Flower Names
Looking for a slightly unusual flower name? You’re in luck, there are plenty of new entries coming into play that work really well.
Other unique flower names
Now for the names that hardly anyone in the UK chose in 2021 (they are more common in other countries). You could go for Gardenia; deriving from a beautiful plant that smells amazing with showy flowers. Or Anemone which comes from the Greek for ‘windflower’ because the delicate blooms are blown open by the wind.
If you love nature-based names, it’s probably best to stop when you start coming across the incredibly unusual ones. Options such as Sneezeweed, Cat’s Whiskers or even the slightly rude Bastard Toadflax are definitely a no go for a delicate new born. Before you ask, yes these really are the real names for plants and flowers (but hopefully not children!).
Common Flower Names & Their Origins
Flowers are a universal language, with cultures worldwide attributing special meanings to the way they're gifted, arranged and even displayed in your home. Floriography, the art of using bouquets and blooms to express your feelings, adds another layer of confusion to the wonder of florals but perhaps the most common misunderstanding comes from every day versus scientific naming of our favourite blossoms.
Interestingly, the botanical name is usually made of two words. The first is the genus and indicates the group the plant belongs to while the second describes a feature of the flower. Put them together and ta-da, you’ve got a unique name.
Flowers with names generally have more than one we use to refer to them by, but florists and fans alike often use their common monikers - after all, how many times have you been the recipient of a lovely bunch of dianthus? You might be surprised: that's the scientific name of the carnation, one of the nation's favourite flowering plants.
We've explored your most popular picks for bouquets to discover the differences between the scientific and common names for these famous flowers - you might be surprised to discover the origins of your must-have blooms
Scientific name: Narcissus
With their happy yellow trumpet flowers, daffodils are an iconic sight that warms the heart as we head into March. This flower has earned itself a whole load of nicknames including Lent Lily (probably down to the time of year it grows), Doffodowndilly (from Shropshire) and the Welsh name Cenhinen Bedr (it means Peter’s leek). Even its scientific name confuses matters with lots of us thinking daffodils and narcissus are different flowers.
Scientific name: Dahlia
This stunning flower is the national bloom of Mexico. The first references to the dahlia come from a Spanish botanist in the 16th century who discovered the Aztecs were using dahlias for food and medicine. A century later and the plant eventually lands on our European shores at the Royal Gardens of Madrid in Spain. Their Spanish botanist Abbé Cavanille studied the flower and decided to name the flower in honour of the Swedish scientist and environmentalist Andreas Dahl.
Scientific name: Tulipa
Despite most of us seeing this flower as a true bloom of the Netherlands, we’re actually a bit off track. You see this one originates from Turkey. The popularity for tulip flowers really hit the big time thanks to a Sultan in the 13th century who demanded the blooms were cultivated for his pleasure. Anyone who was anyone wanted to keep up with the royals and they went wild for tulips. The craze lasted hundreds of years and it was even a crime to buy or sell tulips outside of the capital, so it’s not surprising tulips have been seen as a symbol of wealth and abundance through the ages.
Scientific name: Rhododendron
Azalea has stuck so you’ll usually see both used for this flower. If you want to spot the difference between the two, there are some key things to look for – we’ve rounded up all you need to know about the azalea flower so you can find out more.
Scientific name: Tagetes
Time for another confusing plant name as we start to talk about marigolds. You see the scientific name for marigolds is tagetes, however you may also see flowers called calendula which are commonly known as Pot Marigold, English Marigolds or even Scotch Marigold. Despite their common name, they are not the same as the tagetes group even though they look very similar. I know, confusing!
Scientific Name: Chrysanthemum
A flower with many meanings, the chrysanthemum is found mainly in East Asia and has great significance for Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures where it can symbolise everything from grief and adversity to representing the Japanese Imperial Family. A highly seasonal flower, chrysanthemums are one of the "Four Gentlemen" in China where they represent autumn and graceful nobility. This flower has also earned the nickname ‘mums’ – perfect for giving a bunch to your mother!
Scientific Name: Dianthus
Others say the name comes from the Ancient Greek words divine (dios), which refers to the god Zeus, and flower (Anthos). It’s no wonder they’re also known as the ‘flower of the gods.’
So, what about the common name, carnation? Some say it comes from the word for coronation because the flower was used in Greek ceremonial crowns, others believe it originates from the Latin carnis meaning flesh (early carnations were usually pink). As the flower that started it all for Flying Flowers, we still have a soft spot for carnations.
Scientific name: Aster
For a long time, Michaelmas Daisy was a commonly used name for these flowers. This links to the time when we celebrated Michaelmas Day, named after St Michael the protector against darkness and evil. The day comes at the end of September and recognises the beginning of autumn – making them the perfect birth month flower for September. At the time, you wouldn't have found many flowers growing apart from the delightful aster and the flower was seen as a bloom that fights against the advancing gloom.
Scientific name: Paeonia
The name we all know comes from an Ancient Greek story about Apollo (the son of Zeus) who was attracted to a stunningly beautiful nymph called Paeonia. This gets the attention of his sister, Aphrodite, and the nymph gets all embarrassed. So, for some reason, the goddess decides to turn her into the peony flower. The other story goes that Paeon, a physician to the gods, extracts a milky liquid from the root of this flower and uses it to cure Pluto. Unfortunately, Paeon’s teacher becomes so jealous of his ability that he planned to kill his student. Up steps Zeus who saved Paeon by turning him into the peony flower. Whatever tale you choose to believe, the name is as elusive as the season.
Scientific name: Hyacinthus
Unfortunately, the god of the west wind, Zephyrus was also fascinated by the handsome boy and they would fight for his affections. One day, while Apollo was teaching the boy how to throw a discus, jealous Zephyrus blew his wind in their direction and sent the disc flying, striking Hyacinthus. The boy was killed and a flower grew where his blood lay. On noticing the blooms, Apollo decided to name the flower after him. No wonder it is said to represent jealousy and seeking forgiveness.