By Meredith Coopman

A Harvard University study showed that having flowers in the home decreases anxiety and provides bursts of energy that last well into the day – like we needed another reason to love flowers. Flowers bring about positive emotional feelings to those who enter a room, create a sharing atmosphere and make people feel welcomed.

The Home Ecology of Flowers Study at Harvard discovered three main findings:

Flowers feed compassion.
Study participants who lived with fresh-cut flowers for less than a week felt an increase in feelings of compassion and kindness toward others.

Flowers chase away anxieties, worries and the blues at home.
Overall, people in the study simply felt less negative after being around flowers at home for just a few days.

Living with flowers can provide a boost of energy, happiness and enthusiasm at work.
Having flowers at home can have a positive carry-over impact on our mood at work, too. The study found that people were more likely to feel happier and have more enthusiasm and energy at work when flowers were in their home living environments.

Flowers are versatile. They come in so many shapes, colors and sizes that it’s easy to add them to your home in a way that matches personal style and décor. A beautiful thing about flowers is that there is no right or wrong way to use them. Mix and match colors, kinds and sizes, or keep them all the same. Floral arrangements are a fun way to add color to any space, room, or atmosphere. Keep it casual, go with sophistication or make an elegant bunch, or do whatever suits your mood. Freshen it up every week, change with the seasons, splurge for a special occasion, be daring, be bold, be subtle – the options are endless.

When it comes to picking flowers for a room, there’s no wrong choice. Adding flowers is the perfect solution to give a room a visual break or make a statement. Consider the size, function, and attitude of the room for the flowers. To create a focal point, bring in a larger arrangement or choose something in a contrasting color. Choose smaller bouquets for conversation spaces and pleasant bursts of color in smaller rooms. For an easy go-to, a big bunch of bright whites, all yellows or shades of blue makes a confident statement and will go with any décor. These simple touches are big on impact.

Typically, arrangements are placed in areas of the home that are open to visitors, such as entryways, living rooms and dining rooms. Why not place flowers in locations around the home for YOU? Put them in the bathroom, on your nightstand, in the kitchen. There are no rules.

A display of purple lilac symbolizes first love

A display of purple lilac symbolizes first love

The Language of Flowers

Flowers are present during the most important occasions in our lives. We find them on birthdays, at funerals, graduations, weddings, etc. They’re symbolic of different meanings, depending on the circumstances. No wonder there is an actual Language of Flowers called Floriography. You can even reference a Floral Dictionary. In Victorian times, certain flowers had specific meanings because the flower selection was limited and people used more symbols and gestures to communicate than words. Today, we are much more casual about it, and there are essentially no rules. It’s the sentiment that gives the meaning. The Society of American Florists has compiled a list. Some common flowers and meanings are:

Amaryllis splendid beauty

Anthurium hospitality

Aster patience

Bird of Paradise joyfulness

Calla Lily magnificence and beauty

Carnation a red carnation symbolizes love, pride and admiration; a pink carnation symbolizes the love of a woman or a mother; a purple carnation symbolizes capriciousness; a yellow carnation symbolizes disdain, rejection or disappointment; a white carnation symbolizes innocence and pure love

Chrysanthemum fidelity, optimism, joy and long life – a red chrysanthemum conveys love; a white chrysanthemum symbolizes truth and loyal love; a yellow chrysanthemum symbolizes slighted love

Daffodil regard and chivalry – a single daffodil foretells a misfortune, while a bunch of daffodils indicates joy and happiness

Daisy innocence and purity; a gerbera daisy specifically conveys cheerfulness

Delphinium big-heartedness, fun, lightness and levity

Freesia innocence and thoughtfulness

Gardenia symbolizes purity and sweetness – they indicate secret love; they convey joy; they tell the receiver you are lovely

Gladiolus strength of character, faithfulness and honor

Hyacinth Blue hyacinth stands for constancy; purple for sorrow; red or pink for play; white for loveliness and yellow for jealousy

Hydrangea heartfelt emotions

Iris eloquence – purple iris is symbolic of wisdom and compliments; blue iris symbolizes faith and hope; yellow iris symbolizes passion; white iris symbolizes purity

Lilac white lilac symbolizes humility and innocence; field lilac symbolizes charity; purple lilac symbolizes
first love

Lily white lily symbolizes modesty and virginity; orange lily symbolizes passion; yellow lily symbolizes gaiety; Lily of the Valley symbolizes sweetness and purity of heart; the Easter lily is the symbol of the Virgin Mary

Orchid exotic beauty – it symbolizes refinement, thoughtfulness and mature charm; it also symbolizes proud and glorious femininity

Peony bashfulness and compassion

Queen Anne’s Lace haven or sanctuary

Ranunculus radiant charm – it conveys a message that you are radiant with charm or you are attractive

Rose love in its various forms based on color, variety and number

Snapdragon graciousness and strength

Stock lasting beauty and a happy life

Sunflower pure thoughts – it symbolizes adoration and dedication

Sweet Pea indicates delicate pleasure and bliss – it’s symbolic of departure after having a good time

Tulip a declaration of love – it also symbolizes fame and perfect love

Fresh-cut flowers are the perfect everyday accessory for just about any budget. They add color, fragrance and style. They create warm, comfortable environments and are a nice way to change your surroundings regularly and brighten any room. Green or flowering plants are a perfect option as well because they last much, much longer (especially if you take care of them). Or why not use all of the above!

Meredith Coopman of Meredith Coopman Design Studio has a background in architecture and interior design. You can reach her at