Does a Lily Flower Have Special Meaning?

The lily flower meaning for floral arrangements can send a message of friendship, love and remembrance with their appearance and fragrance.

The Meaning of Lily Flowers

250632688 1 Tom Scheidt Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy Tom Scheidt
Give pink lily flowers to someone you admire.

Each type and color of lily flower has meaning, sending a variety of messages, including birth, life, love and peace. These flowers are commonly woven into bouquets, wedding arrangements, and displays for holidays and memorial services. Flower lovers choose trumpet-shaped lilies for their colors, which range from soft pink to snowy whites and even vibrant orange, elegance, and their intoxicating fragrance.

Lilies are popular for growing in flower beds, as well. Many home gardeners and botanical centers carefully arrange lilies, blending early, midseason and late blooming varieties to enjoy their magnificent flowers from spring through the first frost.

Did you know—not all flowers called lilies are actually lilies! Learn the difference between true lilies vs daylilies.

Do Lilies Have Significance to Cultural Groups?

lily flower meaningCourtesy Wendy Lore
Lily flower meaning varies from sympathy to good fortune.

The lily flower has been associated with various cultural and spiritual meanings throughout time.

In Ancient Greece, lilies were associated with rebirth and motherhood according to the myth that they grew from the breast milk of the goddess Hera. Assyrians and ancient Babylonians associated a lily’s meaning with the goddess of creation and fertility. The lily was also the preferred flower of Venus, the goddess of love, in Roman mythology.

In Japan, a lily flower meaning is seen as a representation of good fortune and happiness. China uses the graceful flower in wedding celebrations. They are believed to be tied to 100 years of love and good luck for the couple.

Discover the best time and place to plant lily bulbs.

The Spiritual Meaning of Lilies

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Lilies are often used in wedding floral arrangements.

The lily represents the purity and divinity of the Virgin Mary in Christianity. The blooms are often seen in the angel Gabriel’s hand and in depictions of the Resurrection of Christ.

Lilies are a frequent choice for funerals in the United States. They are thought of as sympathy flowers and a symbol of innocence and rebirth. According to some religious and spiritual interpretations, lilies can symbolize death and represent the moment when many believe the soul departs the body.

Additionally, lilies are often thought to have a spiritual connection to St. Anthony. It is believed the cut flowers will stay fresh for months or perhaps years if placed near a statue of him.

Lilies are also mentioned in folklore. For example, lily of the valley is said to protect gardens from evil spirits.

Learn how to care for a peace lily plant.

Do Different Colors of Lilies Have Different Meanings?

A lily flower meaning depends on the color you choose.

White Lilies

Bnbbyc17 Karin MitchellCourtesy Karin Mitchell
Casablanca lily

White lilies symbolize purity and modesty. They also may invoke thoughts of being in heaven or the afterlife with loved ones and quiet peace.

Red Lilies

lily flower meaningCourtesy Shanna Christensen

The color red brings to mind romance, love and passion. A scarlet-hued lily in a bouquet is a declaration of love.

When does a red spider lily bulb bloom?

Orange Lilies

rain with flowersCourtesy Justin Price

The vibrant orange-colored lily makes a confident, exciting statement in an arrangement with other flowers. A harmonious blend of white, red and orange lilies conveys feelings of respect and honor for the recipient.

Grow Persian lily flowers for dark garden drama.

Pink Lilies

277226633 1 Lynn Meeker Bnb Bypc 2021Courtesy Lynn Meeker

A pink lily flower bloom represents admiration and infatuation. Give pink lilies to someone you feel affection for.

These water lily flower pictures will take your breath away.

Yellow Lilies

247960842 1 Jeanette Brooks Milano Bnbhc20Courtesy Jeanette Brooks Milano
Female rufous hummingbird

Give a gift of happy floral sunshine with yellow lilies. The color yellow is considered to be a symbol of cheer. Yellow lilies also convey messages of remembrance and happiness.

Try yellow trout lilies for early spring color in shade. Yellow Stella d’Oro daylily is a resilient garden star.

Purple Lilies

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Purple is the color of royalty and majesty. A regal and dramatic purple lily symbolizes respect, dignity, tradition and success. Speckled purple toad lily adds beauty to fall shade gardens.

Do Different Types of Lily Flowers Have Meaning?

A lily flower can can stir thoughts and emotions for people. Note how they are used in observances recognizing birth, rebirth and other milestones in life. Lilies are one of the most common funeral flowers with their distinct appearance, graceful stems and fluted petals. The aromatic fragrance also reminds people of holidays such as Easter and Mother’s Day. Learn more about the meaning of different types of lilies.

Tiger Lily

lily flower meaningCourtesy Colleen Woods
Eastern swallowtail butterfly

Tiger lilies represent confidence, strong will and an air of nobility. The orange petals dotted with tiny black markings symbolize good fortune and prosperity. Throughout history, they have conveyed positivity and well-being. Gift them to someone of great importance in your life.

Get expert crinum lily care and growing tips.

Lily of the Valley

Bnbbyc17 Kandi AndersonCourtesy Kandi Anderson

These tiny white beauties are a symbol of purity, joy, love, sincerity, happiness and luck. Lily of the valley is considered one of the most traditional wedding flowers and is favored by royal brides, including the Duchess of Cambridge.

This delicate flower is the national flower of Finland. It is gifted to loved ones on the first of May in France for La Fête du Muguet.

“Lily of the valley (above) always reminds me of my mother’s love. It was also the fragrance I remember feeling blessed to smell after finishing cancer treatments in May many years ago. I pick a bouquet every spring to remember these two major milestones in my life,” says reader Birds & Blooms reader Kandi Anderson.

Calla Lily

Photo Of Calla Lily Shot With Kodak Z10Courtesy Richard Smith

A calla lily expresses the idea of life and fertility. Conversely, it is also a well-known symbol of death and the passing on of a soul.

Check out our guide to daylily care.

Canna Lily

A ruby-throated hummingbird visits a red canna flower.Courtesy Andrea Garvin
A ruby-throated hummingbird visits a red canna flower.

Cannas flowers have various symbolic meanings including beauty, protection, glory, power, hope and confidence. Some consider them as flowers of purification.

Psst—canna leaf rollers are the bugs eating your cannas.

Asiatic Lily

Asiatic LilyCourtesy Alan Boucher

This type of lily, as the name suggests, is native to Asia. The blooms symbolize marriage, purity, love and spirituality.

Blackberry lily adds bold color to flower beds.

Oriental Lily

Bnbbyc17 Marie Hanaway 1Courtesy Marie Hanaway
Stargazer lily

Gardeners love Oriental lilies for their intoxicating scent, which may conjure powerful memories for some. Pink stargazer lilies represent wealth and prosperity.

Grow tropical ginger lily for late-season flowers.

Peruvian Lily

AlstroemeriaCourtesy Maureen Szuniewicz
A hummingbird gathers nectar from an alstroemeria flower.

You may know Peruvian lilies as alstroemeria. These flowers represent a deep relationship of friendship and devotion.

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Alice Knisley Matthias
Alice Knisley Matthias writes about food, garden, family and education. Her byline has appeared in Birds & Blooms, The New York Times, Allrecipes, Taste of Home, TIME for Kids, Food Network, Washington Post, Delish, EatingWell, The Kitchn, Family Handyman, Birds & Blooms, Woman's Day, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, an America's Test Kitchen cookbook, Kids Discover, Boys' Life and Parade. She is the author of the book Tasty Snacks in a Snap!