Freesia – Symbolism and Meaning

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One of the most fragrant flowers, freesia has delicate petals and grows in a Y-shape, reminding us of the silhouette of a ballerina dancer. It’s the perfect spring flower and one of the most popular. Here’s a look at why the freesia is a sentimental flower, along with its symbolic meanings and practical uses today.

About Freesias

Native to Southern Africa, Freesia is the genus of flowering plants in the Iridaceae family. While the flower was first called the Cape lily-of-the-valley, it eventually became known as freesia. The name was given by Danish botanist Christian Ecklon to celebrate his friendship with fellow botanist Friedrich H.T. Freese.

These funnel-shaped blooms grow from corms, and usually have single or double petals and sword-shaped leaves. The plant looks like a beautiful peapod on a stem, with hints of mint, honey and strawberry scent. For many, the Freesia alba is the sweetest of all varieties, along with Freesia leichtlinii.

Yellow freesia flower

Freesias can be seen in a rainbow of colors, including purple, red, pink, white, blue, orange and yellow. Some of its popular varieties are the ‘Belleville’ with pure white flowers; the ‘Royal Blue’ with lavender blooms; and the ‘Oberon’ with red and yellow bicolor flowers. Some varieties grow in the wild, while others are grown as ornamental plants, blooming during the spring and summer months.

  • Interesting Fact: Freesias are regarded as zygomorphic in nature, which means their flowers only grow along one side of the stalk. However, the plant has an unusual habit of turning at right angles. While their stems grow parallel to the ground, you’ll notice that their flowers remain facing upward.

Meaning and Symbolism of the Freesia

Freesias are one of the most popular gifts for friends and families across cultures because of its symbolic meanings. Here are some of them:

  • A Symbol of Lasting Friendship – There’s a sentimentality in the bloom itself, since it was named to honor friendship. What a perfect flower to have when you want to show appreciation for your best friend! Freesias are also a common gift for mothers on Mother’s Day.
  • Faithfulness and Fidelity –Freesia have become a traditional wedding flower since the 1950s, as it signifies love’s honorable character, as well as faithfulness through the seasons. Some couples even see it as the representation of their unconditional love.
  • A Symbol of Trust – These blooms are perfect on wedding bouquets, reminding the couple of their strong bond, trust and friendship.
  • In some contexts, freesias can also represent childishness and immaturity, as well as innocence.
freesia flower meaning

These blooms come in a wide variety of colors. Here are some of their specific color meanings:

  • Red freesias symbolize love and passion.
  • Pink freesias generally represent motherly love.
  • White freesias are seen as a symbol of purity and innocence.
  • Yellow freesias signify joy and happiness.

Uses of Freesia Flower throughout History

Apart from their aesthetic uses, freesias have also been used in a variety of other contexts.  

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  • In Aromatherapy

Since the flower has a sweet fragrance, it has been used in aromatherapy for stress relief. In fact, there are fragrance oils and candles made from the bloom’s extract. If you’ve grown a lot of these in your garden, you may even utilize the bloom in making your own flower spray, bringing the spring spirit indoors.

  • In Beauty

In the modern times, the scent of freesias is commonly featured in perfumes, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, hand creams, and body lotions. The Sun Moon Stars perfume by Karl Lagerfeld is known for the floral notes of freesia, along with citrusy scent of orange, pineapple and peach.

  • In Arts and Literature

The Greenhouse in Early April by Robert Henry Forster highlighted the vivid colors and sweet fragrance of the bloom. There’re also countless of poems and watercolor paintings that feature freesia as the subject.

Using the Freesia in Gardens and Floral Arrangements

These flowers are a beautiful addition to any garden, permeating the air with their noticeable scent. For those not living in the tropics, freesias can also be grown as houseplants placed on pots and containers. Also, these blooms are commonly used as cut flowers in spring and summer bouquets.

With their rainbow of colors and sweet fragrance, freesias are perfect for creating scented flower arrangements. In fact, the pink and red varieties are thought to have the most intoxicating fragrance. Their delicate beauty also makes them an attractive bloom for weddings, decorating corsages, bridal posies, cakes and centerpieces.

When to Give Freesia Flowers

If you’re thinking of giving a gift of scented blooms, freesias can be your ultimate choice. A bouquet of pink freesias is the perfect present for Mother’s Day as it symbolizes motherly love. These flowers make great gifts to friends, family and special someone, regardless the occasion.

If you want to add a bit of sentimentality and romance to your 7th wedding anniversary, these blooms are perfect too. In some cultures, married couples traditionally exchange white freesias to celebrate their milestone, as well as to remind them of their unconditional love and commitment to each other.

In Brief

As a symbol of friendship, faithfulness and trust, freesia will not only add meaning to your life, but also bring joy and sweet fragrance into your home.