Have you ever noticed how fond people in K-Dramaland are of the language of flowers? Particularly when they are buying a bouquet for a proposal, they’d often ask the florist to help them select flowers with the most appropriate meaning.
Here are some of the flower meanings mentioned in K-Dramas we’ve come across. Which ones are you familiar with, and which ones are you curious to know more about?
Anemone | Baby’s Breath | Bindweed Flower | Buckwheat Flower | Butterfly Flower | Cherry Blossoms | Christmas Rose | Chrysanthemum | Cosmos | Cotton Flower | Delphinium | Edelweiss | Evening Primrose | Forsythia | Freesia | Gerbera | Globe Amaranth | Hyacinth | Hydrangea | Lily of the Valley | Lisianthus | Marigold | Protea | Rosa multiflora | Rose | Stock Flower | Tea Bush Flower | Trumpet Creeper | Tulip
“Isn’t it pretty? This flower’s called an anemone,” Lee Se-joo (Kim Min-jae) tells his mother, as he shows her a photo when visiting her in the hospital in episode 16 of The Great Seducer (2018). “It means many things,” he continues and thinks back to when Choi Soo-ji (Moon Ga-young) talked about this flower at her hideout, with the same words that he repeats to his mother: “Betrayal. Helpless love. Empty love. Thanks for being there for me. I will give you my everything. Even if you do not love me, I still love you. It has so many meanings, and every one of them is sad. This is my flower from now on. Remember that.” In episode 32, he sends a bouquet of anemones to Soo-ji.
Trust the sweet Kim Geum (Seo Ji-hoon) to gift Seon Ok-nam (Moon Chae-won) the kind of flowers that are as gentle and delicate as his heart and soul, on their first date in final episode 16 of Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter (2018). That, and the fact that 700 stalks of roses would have been pretty expensive; but we’re sure Ok-nam appreciated the gesture all the same. While the characters did not particularly delve into the meaning of these sprigs, some of what it represents perfectly encapsulates how Geummie feels about his fairy: “everlasting and undying love, pureness and freedom, reconnecting with lost loves” — now found again, never to be let go in this life. — Mich KDL
In episode 7 of 2002-03 Winter Sonata, Lee Min-hyung (Bae Yong-joon) also gifts Jeong Yoo-jin (Choi Ji-woo) a bouquet of baby’s breath when she is about to leave the hospital and tells her that it is the first time he has given flowers to a woman. — Marion KDL
Biology teacher Yoon Jung-woo (Lee Sang-Yeob) and Son Ji-eun (Park Ha-Sun) meet by chance at a park in episode 2 of Love Affairs in the Afternoon (2019) and turn their conversation to a bindweed flower they spot. He explains: “A bindweed flower is a vine plant with a climbing nature. Flowers come out between June and August. […] Drawn in slowly and deeply. It’s the meaning of the bindweed flower. […] Due to its climbing nature, its roots extend long and deeply into the Earth and breathes from there. Its meaning must come from that. […] It can’t even bear fruits.” “It’s an interesting symbolism,” she responds, adding: “The meaning feels lonely.”
“Lover” is what Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) answers when asked by Ji Eun-tak (Kim Go-eun) in episode 1 of The Goblin (2016-17) about what buckwheat flowers mean. Shin offers her these buckwheat flowers — freshly picked from Borinara Hagwon Farm [보리나라 학원농장] — when Eun-Tak first calls him, sitting at Jumunjin Beach Breakwater [주문진방파제].
“Charm. Attraction” is how this flower’s meaning is described as at Atelier VertVert Flower School where Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) selects flowers to confess to Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) with, in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019).
Check out our blogpost for more about these beautiful spring blooms in K-dramas, and where you can see them in real life!
In episode 7 of Uncontrollably Fond (2017), Choi Ji-tae (Lim Ju-hwan) gives supposed girlfriend Yoon Jung-eun (Lim Ju-eun) a bouquet of Christmas Roses (Helleborus) and say that they suit her. After admitting that he likes someone else, she tells him as she leaves that the flower’s meaning is, “I have nothing to give you”. According to Atoz Flowers, this flower’s symbolism is “serenity, tranquility and peace” and, on the other hand, it can represent a “scandal or anxiety” (which is more in tune with Uncontrollably Fond). Helleborus were thought to be “magical flowers” since they bloom in cold weather, and there is also a fanciful Christmas myth associated with it. But beware, they can be toxic when ingested, and cause irritation to the skin! — L.C. Lou
Ryan Gold’s (Kim Jae-wook) feelings may have been sincere when he selected these ‘pom-pom’ chrysanthemums as his confession flowers for Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019), but maybe he should have read up more on the colour meanings prior to that. According to this page, yellow chrysanthemums mean ‘rejected love’, while white ones signify a ‘deep pain’ from a break-up. On the other hand, chrysanthemums mean ‘joy, perfection and eternity’ — probably what he’d originally hoped for. Sorry, Ryan – next time, perhaps? — Mich KDL
The theme of Cosmos flowers is introduced in episode 13 of 20th Century Boy and Girl (2017) with a patch of them blooming outside Jin Jin’s (Han Ye-seul) parents’ chicken restaurant. There is also a painting in her old room of a girl standing in a field of cosmos.
In episode 14, she puts a plucked flower behind Ji-won’s (Kim Ji-suk) ear and asks if he knows the meaning of the cosmos — not the real meaning though, but the one her sister made up. “I Love You.” It is a sweet moment.
It’s funny that she says that her sister made up this meaning; according to Batul Nafisa Baxamusa at Gardenerdy.com, the word “Cosmos in Greek means ‘orderly, beautiful, and ornamental’. The flower’s fragrance and vibrant colors give it the attributes of peacefulness, wholeness, and modesty. The typical meaning of this flower is ‘love flower’. This flower is often used to illustrate one’s deepest feelings of love. When sent to one’s love on Valentine’s Day it can be said to mean ‘walk with me hand in hand’ and ‘see, life is indeed beautiful’.”
So her sister was completely right! — L.C. Lou
As Yoon Tae-oh (Ji Soo) points out the flowers he’d chosen for Han Song-yi (Jung Chae-yeon) in final episode 16 of My First First Love (2019), he notes that the cotton flower “stands for the love of a mother” — because aside from being his girlfriend and best friend, she’s also family to him. According to this florist, it also means “cherish the people around you”, which is certainly something Tae-oh learnt to do. — Mich KDL
It is also with a cotton flower bouquet that Samshin/ the Birth Grandmother (Lee El) congratulates Ji Eun-tak (Kim Go-eun) at her graduation day in The Goblin (2016-17); probably as a stand-in for her mother, as well. — Marion KDL
“I Will Make You Happy” is how this flower’s meaning is described as at Atelier VertVert Flower School, where Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) selects flowers to confess to Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) with, in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019). — Marion KDL
While in the greenhouse ruminating about the meanings of flowers in episode 11 of Prison Playbook (2017-18), Kim Je-hyuk (Park Hae-soo) points out this flower and suggests that it means gratitude. “Courage,” fellow inmate and cellmate Kim Min-cheol (Choi Moo-sung) gently corrects him, “Edelweiss means courage.”
Min-cheol’s meaning is not too far from its actual representation, which is ‘adventure’, ‘notoriety’ and ‘devotion’. It is said that this mountain flower is highly prized; as it grows at high altitudes and in risky conditions, any man who dares to venture out to acquire the flower (and lives to tell the tale) is courageous indeed. This flower was also popularized by the song of the same name, heard in the 1965 musical film The Sound of Music.
As we see in episode 1 of Hotel Del Luna (2019), Goo Chan-sung (Yeo Jin-goo) is gifted a pot of these flowers every year, as a reminder of his father’s promise to Jang Man-wol (IU/Lee Ji-eun). This is particularly apt as the meaning of this flower is “youth, eternal love and memory” — though interestingly enough, it also means “inconstancy and infidelity”. Another reason this flower is so appropriate is how it only blooms in the evening (hence its name); the mysterious Hotel del Luna too, only opens for business at night. — Mich KDL
While musing about the emergence of new couples at Always Law Firm, colleagues Lee Doo-seob (Park Ji-hwan) and Yang Eun-ji (Jang So-yeon) come across forsythia shrubs lining the pavement, in episode 15 of Touch Your Heart (2019). Excited at seeing his favourite flowers in bloom, the sensitive and poetic Doo-seob asks Secretary Yang if she knows what they represent. When she says no, he turns to her — also his secret crush since… ever — and gives her a shy, sentimental reply: “My love… is deeper than yours.” It is then that he plucks up the courage to ask her out to dinner.
Sadly, this budding spring relationship was one that was not meant to be, as Secretary Yang gently turns down Doo-seob’s affections in the next and final episode of the show. — Mich KDL
“Did you know that freesias mean ‘a new start’?” Oh Tae-yang (An Woo-yeon) asks Cha Sun-hee (Lee Da-hae) in episode 19 of Good Witch (2018), when he proposes to her with these flowers — only to be rejected directly.
For Yoon Tae-oh (Ji Soo), the freesias that he picked for Han Song-yi (Jung Chae-yeon) in final episode 16 of My First First Love (2019) “stands for friends” — which represents how important their 20-year-long friendship is to their relationship.
“Grace. Kindness. Gratitude” is how the pink gerbera’s meaning is described as at Atelier VertVert Flower School where Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) selects flowers to confess to Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) with, in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019).
On Jung-sun’s mother (Lee Mi-sook) decorates his new restaurant with these flowers and explains their meaning to him in episode 8 of Temperature of Love (2017).
Purple Hyacinth = Sorry
Yoon Yoo-jung (Yoon Eun-hye) says sorry to Cha Woo-hyun (Chun Jung-myung) with a box containing and apple and a bouquet of purple hyacinths in episode 4 of Fluttering Warning (2018).
Red Hydrangea = I Love You
Joo “Joy” Ki-bbeum (Song Ha-yoon) decorates her house with it all the time because she loves the meaning of it, as she tells Sung Ki-joon (Hoya of Infinite) in episode 16 of Devilish Joy (2018). As L.C. Lou points out, the flowers shown in the drama are actually red chrysanthemum (which come with a different meaning too). — Marion KDL
When Han Deuk-gu (Hyun Bin) tags along to Kim Bo-ra’s (Sung Yoo-ri) brother’s grave, he sees that it is surrounded by the lily of the valley in episode 2 of The Snow Queen (눈의 여왕). “Do you know the meaning of this flower?” he asks Bo-ra. Then, he answers his own question: “You will surely find happiness.” A little later, Bo-ra asks him again about the flower’s meaning, and after hearing it she retorts with: “That’s an impressive phrase.”
Stretching from 2006 till now, this is definitely the most long-standing flower meaning in K-Dramaland that we have tracked to date.
— Marion KDL
Geum Jan-di (Goo Hye-sun) learns about the same meaning of this flower — ‘You’ll definitely be happy’ — during her stay in New Caledonia in episodes 5-6 of Boys Over Flowers (2009). Her direct conclusion is that the lily of the valley is thus a flower for lovers to give to each other or to give to one’s beloved. — Marion KDL
“Do you know what this flower represents?” a deliriously happy Park Hae-ran asks her bewildered mother, as she comes home to a living room full of flowers in episode 11 of Hide and Seek (2018). “It means ‘return to happiness’,” Hae-ran says while arranging the bouquet before her, adding that it reminds her of Soo-ah, the kidnapped daughter that she could have found again. Wonder if Hae-ran knows that these flowers, while delicately beautiful, are also known to be poisonous. Perhaps, an appropriate representation of Ha Yeon-joo (Uhm Hyun-kyung) — the girl she considers to be Soo-ah. — Mich KDL
In episode 19 (full episode 10) of Secret Boutique (시크릿 부티크) (SBS, 2019), Wi Jung-hyeok (Kim Tae-hoon) pays respect to his deceased partner and brings a bouquet of lilies of the valley with him. — Marion KDL
“In the language of flowers, it means unchanging love,” so states the florist in episode 19 of Five Children (2016). Another florist in episode 10 of Super Daddy Yeol (2015) says the same thing about the meaning: “unchanging love, the one and only love”. No wonder this flower is used a lot in bridal bouquets.
“Marigolds grow well, no matter where they are. They just need sunlight and fresh air. […],” writes Kang Sa-ra’s (Lee Da-hee) father Kang Dae-sik (Kang Nam-kil) on a birthday card that’s gets delivered to her, along a flowerpot with marigolds in episode 9 of The Beauty Inside (2018). Two episodes later, we learn from a florist to Ryu Eun-ho (Ahn Jae-hyeon) that a marigold has two meanings, while Sa-ra reads on the Internet that the meaning of the marigold depends on its type and can either be “Happiness that will definitely come,” or “A sad love.” — Marion KDL
The African Marigold stands for sad goodbye, as explained in episode 4 of Here Comes Love (2016).
“PS. The symbolic meaning of marigolds is happiness that is bound to happen. I know that happiness awaits you.” This is how Kang Sa-ra’s (Lee Da-hee) father Kang Dae-sik (Kang Nam-kil) ends his birthday wishes for his daughter on the same card mentioned above, in episode 9 of The Beauty Inside (2018).
In episode 4 of Here Comes Love (2016), the meaning is explained similarly — saying that it stands for “happiness that will one day come” — but now referring explicitly to the French Marigold. — Marion KDL
Ha Wan-seung (Kwon Sang-woo) looks for flowers for Yoo Sul-ok (Choi Kang-hee) in episode 6 of Mystery Queen (2017). He wants out-of-the-ordinary flowers and the florist at MBC Flower, Flower Delivery suggests Protea, a South African flower that women like a lot and is “luxurious and charming.” The flower means “Thank you”, as the florist explains. When walking out of the shop, and before he is kidnapped, Wan-seung says to himself that Protea is a funny name for a flower and comments how expensive she is. In episode 7, we learn that these flowers are often used as a bouquet and that they mean gratitude and thanks but also “I send you sweet love.“ — Marion KDL
While visiting the elderly inmate he saved from a fire in episode 11 of Prison Playbook (2017-18), Kim Je-hyuk (Park Hae-soo) presents him with a pot of ‘wild roses’ as a gift. As he begins to speak of its meaning, Je-hyuk pauses and instead recites a line from the 1942 song Jjilreggot (찔레꽃): “I miss the cottage on the hill in my hometown down south, where the wild roses bloom.” But, the real flower meaning he’d learnt from cellmate Min-cheol (Choi Moo-sung) was “solitude, cautious love and longing for family” — a feeling encapsulated by the elderly inmate, who had tragically lost both his wife and daughter to suicide.
Also known as ‘multiflora rose’ or ‘rosa multiflora’, among many other names, this flower species is a “scrambling shrub” that is native to Korea and Japan. Don’t be fooled by this seemingly delicate beauty, though; it is considered an ecological threat due to its invasiveness.
Blue Rose = Miracle
“Guess what the plant’s name means?” asks Yoon Yoo-jung in episode 5 of Fluttering Warning (2018) when showing Cha Woo-hyun her secret garden. “It’s a miracle,” she answers, “Mi-ra-cle.”
— Marion KDL
Green Rose = A Noble Love That Only Exists In Heaven
Oh Soo-ah (Lee Da-hae) asks Lee Jung-hyun (Go Soo) the meaning of the flower in Green Rose (SBS, 2005) and he replies the definition above. — InSoo
Episode 5 of The Master’s Sun (2013) revolves around a grandson who had been dead for 100 days, but the green roses in his room has stayed fresh since then. They say the meaning is “a noble love that only exists in heaven”. — L.C. Lou
Orange Rose = First Love
Louis will give one single orange rose to his first love once he finds her, as he says in episode 8 of Shopping King Louis (2016). — Marion KDL
Pink Rose = Happiness/Lovers
Apparently, the meanings for the pink colored rose diverge in K-Dramaland. According to Shopping King Louis (2016) it means ‘Happiness’ as he states in episode 8. In final episode 16 of My First First Love (2019), however, Yoon Tae-oh (Ji Soo) tells Han Song-yi (Jung Chae-yeon) that the rose “stands for lovers”. — Mich and Marion KDL
Light Pink Rose = Only You Know How I Feel
Baek Kyung (Lee Jae-wook) learns the meaning of flowers as a young boy in Extraordinary You/Ha-Ru Found by Chance/A Day Found by Chance/Suddenly One Day (어쩌다 발견한 하루) (MBC, 2019)when Eun Dan-O (Kim Hye-yoon) makes him attentive of one of her mum’s saying that every flower has a meaning. Since then, he always presents her with light pink roses when visiting her (especially at the hospital as seen in episode 21). But when Dan-O asks him what the roses mean, he lies on purpose that he doesn’t know; looking sheepishly at a paper note that says “Only you know how I feel”. — Marion KDL
Red Rose = Passion /Passionate Love
This is according to Shopping King Louis (2016) as he states in episode 8. “Passionate Love” is also how this flower’s meaning is described at Atelier VertVert Flower School where Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) selects flowers to confess to Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) with, in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019). — Marion KDL
Yellow Rose = Jealousy
This is according to Shopping King Louis (2016) as he states in episode 8.
White Rose = Respect
A white rose means ‘respect’, as Eun Ha-won (Park So-dam) correctly answers Chairman Kang’s (Kim Yong-geon’s) questions in episode 7 of Cinderella and Four Knights (2016). She knows the meaning well because it’s her mother that taught her so. According to her mother, these are flowers that should be given to people you respect. In episode 1 we thus see Ha-won with a bouquet of white roses that she brings to the columbarium where her mum is laid to rest. But a white rose is also the string that attaches Ha-won with Ji-woon (Jung Il-woo) since they were children. [SPOILER] Then, he had given her a white rose at his mother’s funeral (as he remembers in episode 16), having lost their mothers at the same time.
“I heard that it means that you want to make up [after a fight] if you give red and white roses together,” says a sincere 20-something Han Jae-hyun (Jin-young of GOT7) to Yoon Ji-soo (Jeon So-nee) in episode 14 of When My Love Blooms (2020). Years later, an older Jae-hyun (Yoo Ji-tae) decides to get a bouquet of the same flowers for Ji-soo (Lee Bo-young), hoping to remind her of this meaning.
“Forever beautiful” is how this flower’s meaning is described in the shop where Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) selects flowers to confess to Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) with, in episode 8 of Her Private Life (2019). — Mich and Marion KDL
Tea bush flowers represents ‘memories’, according to Dam Ryung (Lee Min-ho) in The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016); something he does not have. He offers one to Sim Chung (Gianna Jun) in episode 5 when they both take a stroll in the Boseong Tea Fields. — Marion KDL
This flower constitutes the narrative thread in Extraordinary You (2019) that connects the love-line between Ha-ru (Ro Woon) and Eun Dan-oh (Kim Hye-Yoon), along with the closely involved Baek Kyung (Lee Jae-wook) in the first part of the drama. “‘Wait’ is what this flower symbolizes,” explains Jin Mi-chae (Lee Tae-ri) to Ha-ru without being asked, in episode 14 (full episode 7). In episode 15 (full episode 8), Ha-ru sees himself buying a trinklet for Dan-oh in
Joseon Goryeo times (thanks, InSoo for the remark!) and the vendor explains to him that the flower on the piece is a trumpet creeper. He goes on to say: “That flower means, ‘Even if the world falls apart and the earth splits up, I will only wait for you.'” This makes Ha-ru buys it immediately. In modern manhwa times, Dan-oh also had presented Baek Kyung, her first manhwa love, with a trinklet that he carries again ten years later. In episode 16 (full episode 8), it becomes clear that this scene is out of a different manhwa called ‘Trumpet Creeper’, which might be the successor of ‘Secret’ (that already has trumpet creepers on its cover too). Still a little later, in episode 23 (full episode 12), Ha-ru explains to Dan-oh that he was probably always attentive to this flower (and crossed paths with it since the very beginning) as its purpose is to remind him to wait for her until she finds him.
If you are looking to visit K-Drama places with trumpet creepers, Jade Garden [제이드가든 수목원] might be a very fitting address as it not only has these flowers in its garden but it also appears as Dan-o’s mansion in Extraordinary You. — Marion KDL
The source of the trumpet creeper’s symbolism can be found in a Korean folktale: a palace maid loves her King but understandably he doesn’t love her back (as she’s just some passing fancy). The palace maid soon falls ill and dies still loving her King, and following her burial the following day masses of trumpet flowers were found growing in the dead palace maid’s quarters.
[SPOILER] This folk tale gained attention to Extraordinary You viewers who theorized Baek-kyung (Lee Jae-wook) was the king and Eun Dan-oh (Kim Hye-yoon) the palace maid. But soon it became clear that the king was actually Geum Jin-mi (Dried Squid Fairy in “Secret”) (Lee Tae-ri) and the palace maid Kim Soo-hyang (in “Secret”) (Lee Ye-hyun) who had similar tragic endings. — Lr
The meaning of tulips varies depending on their color.
White Tulip = Lost Love
“[…] Lost Love. […] White tulips mean love is lost”, explains the florist in episode 19 of Five Children (2016).
Yellow Tulip = Unrequited love/Cheerful thoughts
Though it’s said that giving yellow tulips to someone means that you know that they don’t feel the same, that certainly seems quite the opposite when Lee Yeon-nam (Kim Min-gue) gives a bouquet of it to Jung Chung-nam (Kim Hyang-gi) in episode 8 of Drunk In Good Taste (2018). — Mich KDL
Seen other flower sightings in K-dramas? Tell us in the comments!
Apart from flowers in bouquets, people in K-Dramaland also like to walk through flower fields, especially when on a date. Cosmos [코스모스] flower fields are particularly valued — to the extent of even cosmos flower festivals to further appreciate them! As you might remember, episode 13 of Jealousy Incarnate (2016) talks about the flower festival frenzy and Pyo Na-ri (Gong Hyo-jin) is forced to film her weather forecast at the Cosmos Park, even though they know that she won’t be able to take part in the announcer test castings. And yes, who could ever forget these adorable love-birds walking through cosmos flowers on their date at Chilji Park?