What Is the Meaning of a Red Carnation?


Carnations grow naturally in summer and autumn, and are available year-round from florists. They come in many varieties and colors, with each color having several meanings. Pink and white carnations represent very different things than does the vibrant red carnation.

Ohio State Flower

  • Because President William McKinley often wore a red carnation, Ohio officially made it the state’s flower in his remembrance.


  • The red carnation is the national symbol of Slovenia, representing love and charity, and in a bridal bouquet with geranium and rosemary it means fidelity, love and hope.

Mother’s Day

  • While the pink carnation is the official flower for Mother’s Day in the United States, when Canadians celebrate Mother’s Day, they wear red carnations to symbolize that their mother is still alive.

In Victorian Times

  • In Victorian times, the carnation stood for fascination; deep red was a sign of a love stricken heart, and red for love. Yet, if the carnation was striped, it meant love’s refusal.

21st Century Meanings

  • The red carnation is a symbol of love, although it can be as passionate as “my hearts aches for you” or as bland as admiration.

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  • Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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