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What do pink carnations mean?

Updated November 21, 2016

Pink carnations are among the world's most popular flowers and are continuously stocked by florists around the world. All flowers are said to have meaning, but pink carnations are well-known and widely recognised as being fraught with symbolism. Before you give them or wear them, it's important to know what pink carnations mean.

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History of Floral Language

Flower meanings were popularised in Europe in the 18th century, a fad that picked up in the English court and spread out among other countries in the region. Love features heavily in many different floral meanings, though some flowers are attached to different holidays and events. Historically, flowers have been given to convey everything from wishes of good luck to secret, burning love.

Carnation Origins

Carnations have been purposefully cultivated for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks used the flowers in ceremonial crowns, which is from where the name "carnation," similar to coronation, is derived.

Ancient Rome also used the blossoms in tributes to the deities. Every colour of the carnation--from deep red to bright white--has its own meaning, though pink carnations have arguably appeared in more literary and historical references.

One legend held that carnations bloomed during and after the death of Jesus Christ, a prominent figure in Christian religions. Carnations have been used not just to convey meaning. The flowers also have been used to create healing potions, dyes and flavours for food and spirits.


Dianthus caryophyllus, more commonly known as carnations, are used frequently in floral arrangements, boutonni�res, corsages, bouquets and decor.

Three types of carnations are most commonly used by florists: large-flowered blossoms, which feature one bloom per flower; mini-carnations or "spray" carnations, upon which small flowers bloom in many bunches; and dwarf carnations, which are even smaller than the mini variety of the plant.


Carnation flowers bloom with five petals and vary in colour, growing in multiple shades of red, pink, purple and white. The blossoms, at full maturity, reach 2 to 3 inches around. The flower petals have a slightly serrated or rough-edged appearance. Native to Eurasia, carnations are now cultivated around the world. The flower blossoms are hardy, and the plant is easy to grow, helping to make carnations a popular choice among florists and gardeners.


In the original European language of flowers, carnations in any colour were given to women to symbolise good luck. Today, the flower is the national symbol of Slovenia to represent love to newborn babies. The carnation is also the state flower of Ohio, and is the birth flower for the month of January.

In modern times, the carnation has become a symbol for Mother's Day to represent unforgotten or unforgettable love. Pink carnations mean "I'll never forget you," which is why they have become popular as a Mother's Day gift or decoration.

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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.

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