Flower Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts of Sending Flowers

Flowers are a sweet and thoughtful gift and a general go-to for holidays and events year-round. Did you know that there are dos and don’ts for giving flowers though?

While it might seem silly, there is a flower etiquette in place for giving someone the gift of flowers, and some of the “rules” (used liberally here) make a lot of sense!

If you have a gift-giving event coming up, or want to give flowers to a loved one as a token or commemoration, read on to ensure that you’re not committing any floral faux pas with your gesture.

Is Flower Etiquette Still “In”?

Many millennials and younger aren’t really concerned with flower etiquette and are pleased just to be receiving the gift. 

People tend to resist restrictions a lot more openly in this current moment, and they want more freedom in their choices. 

That said, there are still some things that need to be considered. Historically, the etiquette behind giving flowers used to be quite significant. Gifted flowers send a message whether you like it or not; it’s in their tradition to do so.

In Victorian times, flowers would convey very specific messages and meanings. There were books (less scientific than today’s botany guides) specifically for deciphering the messages that the flowers were sending. It was a way to send messages without a single word.

While we can now easily send those messages with a text, sometimes, remembering the meanings behind flowers can be nice and thoughtful while gift-giving.

Consider the Event and Audience

While it might no longer be as crucial to send the same messages, it’s still prudent to consider the event and audience that the flowers are for. Not every flower is best for every situation, and doing a bit of preliminary research will save you from making a mistake.

Even if the recipient doesn’t care so much for the etiquette of flower-giving, people still have preferences. Do they have a favorite color or texture? Do they decorate their home in a specific way that would suit a certain kind of floral arrangement? 

Different events can call for different kinds of flowers or flower arrangements. Knowing this ahead of time might make you seem just a little bit more considerate (or cultured) to your recipient. 

Happy Events

There are a lot of happy events in which it’s customary to give flowers to someone. Things like a parent’s anniversary, a new birth, or a birthday are in this category.  

Other events are congratulatory and still have flowers as a common gift. Graduations, awards, and sports events are also great times to give flowers as gifts.

For these kinds of occasions, you want to ensure they your arrangements are cheerful in nature. Bright, vibrant colors are customary for this, and it can be good to know the recipient’s favorite flowers beforehand.

Sometimes, you might just have someone in your life who you think deserves a happy flower event a little more often. Even if it’s not customary, sending unique monthly flower delivery flowers is a great way to brighten up someone’s days who really deserves it.

Romantic Events

Flowers are a very classically romantic gift, and there are a lot of opportunities to give them. 

Your own anniversary, a date, a partner’s birthday, or perhaps just a special surprise; these are all great opportunities to give the romantic gift of flowers.

There are right and wrong ways to give flowers to a loved one. Knowing the comfort level of your partner is a good first step to figuring this out for yourself.

Whole bouquets of flowers can seem like a grand gesture, especially early on in a relationship. While single flowers might seem very romantic, even for a first or second date, it might be best to leave the bouquets for a time when your relationship is more stable and secure. 

You should also know how much your partner likes public gestures. While some people might love the idea of a large bouquet arriving at their school or work from an admirer, other people would be appalled by the idea of being put on the spot like that and inviting workplace gossip.

Some people feel happier with small romantic gestures. If you have a more shy companion, give your floral gifts in private. Have them delivered to their home or somewhere else where there won’t be too many curious eyes on them.

Customarily, the best flowers for a romantic gesture are going to be red roses. That said, the real best flowers are the ones that your partner likes the most or the ones that hold sentimental value to you both.

Don’t be afraid to ask about favorite flowers early on. It’s no secret that they’re a popular gift, and you might even seem more thoughtful for asking.

Events of Grieving

Some events are sad, and they customarily have flowers as gifts or gestures as well. Not all events are the same and they don’t all have the same customary flower arrangements.

It’s best to be sensitive around this time, so sticking to tradition might be in your best interest. 

First, know that not all cultures and religions accept flowers during their grieving events. While they may still be appreciated (especially from someone who is out of the culture in question), it might be good to do a little bit of research beforehand. Some people prefer food or other tokens to celebrate the life that was lost. 

Some cultures may find it rude to send flowers at all. When in doubt, it’s best to ask rather than offend. This matters doubly during a delicate time, like a funeral. 

Otherwise, depending on the event, there are different customs. 


For funerals, flowers tend to be more muted. Funeral flowers are arrangements that are sent directly to the funeral home. You can do this if you’re going to the funeral, but it’s more common to do so if you’re unable to attend, or if you weren’t invited but would still like to participate through a gesture.

Funeral flowers are often beautiful but soft colors so as to not draw too much attention or feel too festive. Again, this may depend on the culture or the funeral itself.

Some people prefer their funerals to act more like celebrations of life, requiring bright and bold arrangements. Asking ahead of time will save you from an awkward mistake.

White and green arrangements are beautiful and safe for funerals. Many funeral arrangements come in shapes rather than the standard bouquet. You can often find funeral wreaths woven from flowers and greenery, or flowers woven into crosses and hearts to decorate the funeral home or church.


There are also flower arrangements for sending condolences, or sympathy arrangements. Instead of going straight to the funeral home, these flowers are sent to the loved ones of the deceased after the event. 

Generally speaking, you’re going to give these to people close to you and close to the person who was lost, as they’re a more intimate gesture. 

Similarly to the funeral flowers, you generally want to go with more muted flowers for these arrangements. They don’t have to be all white (although they certainly can be), but you also don’t want to go with anything too bright and cheerful. You don’t want to send the wrong kind of message to the family and friends of the deceased.

Trying to pick a flower that will continue blooming for a good amount of time would be a nice gesture. That being said, some people might get the idea to instead send living plants instead of cut arrangements. While that might be a great gift for other events (especially considering the current plant craze), this might not be the time.

Giving people something extra that they have to care for and spend time on while they’re grieving could be a welcome distraction, or it could be a tiresome burden put onto them by a well-intentioned friend. In other words, know your audience.


Some holidays have standard plants and flowers that people give as gifts. If you plan on giving gifts during the holidays, especially for people you don’t know very well, it’s best to keep with tradition.

Christmas arrangements, for example, are often started with holly or pine as a base. They may be layered with white lilies or roses, and then some red thrown in to keep a color theme. Otherwise, the classic poinsettias are always a great choice for Christmas flower-giving.

Flowers for Easter tend to be bright and colorful as spring starts to roll in and more flowers are in season. Beautiful, bright pastels are often mixed with white flowers for a delicate appearance. Pinks and yellows are popular for holidays around early spring. 

During autumn, flower arrangements are much more muted and orange toned. Dark colors are popular and make wonderful centerpieces for a Halloween or Thanksgiving event. They also make good fall wreaths.

Valentine’s Day leans towards the ever-popular red roses, but if you’re not that close with your giftee, consider something that comes on a little less strong. Tulips are a wonderful choice for a softer option.

Mother’s Day also sees a lot of roses, but generally in different colors. Pinks and whites are popular Mother’s Day colors. Roses, tulips, lilies, and peonies are all beautiful flower choices that stand strong over time.

No matter the holiday, floral arrangements are almost always a great gift or decoration. Choosing the right one is part of the fun part of gift-giving.

Consider Allergies

While it might seem obvious, sometimes, it’s hard to remember while you’re searching for the perfect gift that some people have allergies.

It might be in your best interest to do some digging and find out if your giftee is allergic to any flowers before you make your purchase.

While your gift will still be appreciated, making your recipient sick is likely not the intended effect. If you want them to keep your flowers in their home, check on allergies first!

Consider Household Pets

When you’re considering giving flowers to someone, you might want to consider who (or what) else lives in their household.

Some flowers, even popular ones, are dangerous for some common household pets. What was intended as a lovely gift could end up being a stressful event for your giftee. Rather than let that happen, it’s best to do some preliminary research just in case to avoid tragedy.

While you should research your flower of choice beforehand, there are some more popular flowers that would be best avoided around animals. 

Azaleas, daffodils, tulips, mums, peonies, and oleander are poisonous to dogs if ingested. While they might not be deadly, they will require a trip to the vet and likely will cause some kind of oral or gastrointestinal harm to the animal. 

Similarly, if your recipient has cats, lilies can be deadly if consumed.

This list is far from complete, but these are popular gift flowers that can cause harm to pets. Do research first so that you don’t have any mishaps later.

Time to Give Some Flowers

Flowers are great gifts for almost any occasion, as long as you remember just a little bit of flower etiquette along the way. 

Gift-giving shouldn’t be stressful, and it’s really generally the thought that counts. So if this is all too overwhelming, just pick something beautiful in a color that your loved one enjoys and hope for the best. 

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