In the Victorian era, dictionaries of floriography helped people decode their cuttings. This was crucial, because while some blossoms were friendly—like asters, which connoted daintiness—others were downright hostile. For example, begonias meant “Beware!” Just imagine the fights that could be sparked by a man hitting up a flower market to choose a bouquet for his beloved. The unsuspecting bloke could unwittingly choose a pretty hydrangea, not knowing that it signified frigidity. Better watch out at farmer’s markets, too: That fresh head of lettuce represents coldheartedness. Ouch!
Though Shakespeare and Jane Austen often alluded to flower symbolism in their writings, we don’t give it much thought today. But just in case your better half happens to be a big-time history buff, here’s a quick primer on flowers’ covert codes: