What do yellow carnations mean?

Updated November 21, 2016

Carnations are popular flowers among brides, florists and flower lovers of all kinds. The unique, ruffled petals and wide colour variety make carnations a good garden choice. According to the language of flowers, each colour carnation carries its own special meaning. When you give the gift of carnations, you're actually sending a clear message. Find out what yellow carnations mean before incorporating them into your gift-giving ideas.


Popular legend holds that carnations appeared during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As the story goes, the Virgin Mary wept upon seeing her son carrying his cross up the hill. Where her tears fell, carnations bloomed. Historically, carnations have been cultivated since ancient Grecian times, where the blooms were used in celebratory garlands. The word carnation translates into "flowers of God." Carnations are native to Eurasia, but they are grown by florists and gardeners all over the world.


Carnations are popular among flower sellers and buyers because the cut blooms are incredibly hardy and long-lasting. Each carnation bloom contains five petals, and grows in a wide variety of colours, including yellow. Some double-petal varieties of carnations will bloom with as many as 40 petals. The flowers grow 6 to 8.5 centimetres around on forked or branched clusters. Carnations grow best in sandy soil, and require some full sun every day in order to bloom.


Many kinds of carnations exist, but the three most common are annual, border and perpetual-flowering. Carnation flowers also bloom in three ways: large blossoms, with a single flower on each stem; mini (or spray), which bloom with many smaller flowers; and dwarf, which are carnation flowers that are even smaller than minis.


Ancient Romans knew carnations as "Jove's Flower," using the blossoms in important ceremonies dedicated to the gods. Carnations are also significant in Korea, where the flowers are used to tell fortunes. Every colour of carnation is assigned a specific meaning and message, making it possible to convey a variety of emotions and thoughts with a single arrangement of the flowers. Carnations are popularly known as a symbol for Mother's Day, a tradition that has been in effect since 1907.


Generally, carnation flowers of any colour may be used to convey affection, health, love and interest. The language of flowers tells us that yellow carnations, specifically, convey a message of rejection or disdain. Yellow carnations may also be used to offer a message of disappointment or even dejection.

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About the Author

K. C. Morgan is a professional freelance writer, with articles and blog posts appearing on dozens of sites. During her years of writing professionally, K. C. has covered a wide range of topics. She has interviewed experts in several fields, including celebrated psychoanalyst Frances Cohen Praver, PhD; television personality and psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig; and entrepreneur Todd Reed.