Give Thanks With These Plants - Plants That Symbolize Gratitude

Blue Hydrangea Bouquet
(Image credit: ilona titova)

When someone does something nice for us, it's customary to express our gratitude. Giving a potted plant or bouquet of flowers is one way to show our thanks, but what do we choose when we don't know the recipient's preferences? One solution is to follow the tradition of flower and plant symbolism. 

Language of Flowers: Gratitude

Did you ever wonder which plant says “thank you?” What flower symbolizes gratitude? Flower and plant symbolism became fashionable during the Victorian era in England, when floral gifts were often used to express one's feelings. If you wish to follow traditional plant and flower symbolism, gratitude is often expressed by one of these five species:

Roses – Perhaps best known as the flower of love, red roses are the traditional Valentine's Day gift. In the language of flowers, gratitude and appreciation is often expressed with either pink or peach roses.

While both colors are suitable for expressing gratitude, each portrays a slightly different sentiment. Femininity, grace and elegance are the classic meanings for pink roses. Deep or bright pink roses are often used to express appreciation and admiration. 

On the other hand, peach tends to be the more traditional color of rose used to express thanks and gratitude. Peach roses are popular choices for celebrating the close of a business deal and for expressing loyalty. 

Hydrangea – This flower, meaning “thank you for understanding” in Japanese society, has different implications in other cultures. From unity and togetherness to vanity and arrogance, the hydrangea's modern-day meaning is often linked to the color of its blooms. 

Pink hydrangea flowers symbolize heartfelt emotion, while white ones depict abundance. Purple, a color traditionally associated with royalty, represents wealth. Of all the colors, blue hydrangea most closely embodies the traditional Japanese meaning. 

Prayer Plant – In the language of flowers, gratitude can also be expressed by a plant's foliage. The prayer plant, so named because their leaves fold up each night as if in prayer, symbolizes divine thankfulness. 

Unlike cut flowers, prayer plants are low maintenance houseplants which can serve as a longtime remembrance of your gratitude. They don't require direct sunlight and are perfect for offices and home interiors. Different varieties of this houseplant are distinguished by their leaf patterns and coloration. 

Sweet Pea – Often associated with good-byes and fond farewells, this flower meaning “thank you for a lovely time,” is a classy way to show appreciation for an invite. Sweet Pea flowers have also come into use as a traditional bouquet to express gratitude of any kind. 

Entrenched with symbolism, this beloved Victorian-era flower has found a different use in modern-day society. Popular as a tattoo choice, Sweet Pea flowers have come to symbolize a bittersweet breakup or to memorialize a lost loved one.

Lilies – When asking “What flower symbolizes gratitude,” yellow lilies are a popular choice. Their large petals and brilliant colors convey a happy and heartfelt thank you. Unlike other flowers and plants which symbolize more specialized sentiments of gratitude. yellow lilies are appropriate for any occasion or social setting.

So next time you can't find the right words to express how you feel, considering gifting a plant or bouquet of flowers. The recipient will be glad you did! 

Laura Miller

Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.