Last updated on May 21st, 2023 at 10:24 pm

Which flower symbolizes the love of a mother? Of course, it is carnation. To know the mother flower’s meaning, one has to look at the meaning of the popular carnation flower. 

Carnations belong to the genus Dianthus, family Caryophyllaceae, and are one of the oldest known cultivated flowers in the world. Also known as clover pink or grenadine, the cultivation of Dianthus Caryophyllus can be traced to about 2000 years. These pretty flowers existed even during the Ancient Greek and Roman times and were first mentioned by Theophrastus, a botanist of that time.

This is an interesting story about why carnations are known as the Mother flower. The founder of ‘Mother’s Day’ in the USA, Anna Marie, organized a memorial service to remember her deceased mother and all mothers who were gone. Carnation was her mother’s favorite flower. Anna Marie sent five hundred white carnations to all the attendants; thus, white carnations became the symbol of tribute to all mothers. In 1914, Mother’s Day became a National Day in the USA and became a celebration all over the world.

Now Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the globe. On that day, mothers are showered with gifts and flowers, mostly carnations, the official Mother’s Day flower.

Carnations or mother flowers are remarkably attractive flowers with a long vase life. The tightly set fringed petals, the clean smell, and the gorgeous look make them extremely eye-catching and desirable. Not too flashy but pretty enough to please the eye, carnations have been the official Mother’s Day flower for over a century.

What does the Mother (Carnation) flower symbolize?

Mother (carnation) flowers speak volumes of emotions in the language of flowers. Mother flower meaning changes according to the flower’s color and receiver.

These flowers symbolize passion, admiration, respect, gratitude, rejection, and disappointment. Mother flowers can be given on almost any occasion, from birthdays and anniversaries to retirement. These flowers also stand for purity and luck in different cultures.

The most well-known story behind carnation or Mother flower has its roots in an early Christian belief. People of that era believed that carnations grew from where tears fell from the eyes of Mother Mary as Jesus carried his cross.

It does not end with the Mother flower meaning because carnations also have several other legendary stories behind how they got their name. The most famous story is that the name carnation was derived from the word ‘coronation.’ It is because this flower adorned the Greek ceremonial crowns.

Another story behind the name sources the name carnation to the Latin word ‘carnis’ meaning flesh. The pink color of the carnation is thought to be connected to the word. The scientific name of the carnation flower, ‘dianthus caryophyllus’, is connected to the mighty Greek god Zeus. In Greek, ‘dios’ means ‘of Zeus’, and ‘anthos’ means flower. Thus ‘dianthus’ means the flower of Zeus or the flower of the Gods.

All in all, the mother (carnation) flower symbolic meanings are:

  • love
  • captivation
  • distinction
  • fascination
  • motherly love

Meaning of the Mother (Carnation) flower colors

Red color

Dark red mother (carnation) flowers express passion and admiration. They can be gifted to offer love and to express a romantic proposal. 

In ancient times, red carnations represented the idea of socialism.

White color

White carnations symbolize eternal grief, purity, and luck. White mother (carnation) flowers are an ideal flowery tribute to the deceased. They are popular funeral flowers as they also express loyalty.

Besides expressing sorrow, white carnations also stand for purity and good luck. They can convey the message of pure love and express the desire to wish someone a prosperous life. These pretty white flowers can be gifted to someone starting a new venture or to the elders on their birthdays.

Pink color

The pink mother (carnation) flower’s meaning is tied to gratitude, fondness, and appreciation. These beautiful flowers are directly related to a mother’s protective love, making them the official Mother’s Day flowers. Pink carnations can also be gifted to teachers, nurses, co-workers, or anyone else to express appreciation. Pink mother flowers make wonderful gifts on any joyous occasion.

Yellow color

Although delicate and pretty, yellow mother (carnation) flowers are connected to rejection and disappointment since they are not meant for happy occasions, they can be sent when you want to say sorry or express sympathy.

Interesting facts about the Mother (Carnation) flowers

  • Carnations have been used for ages in decor, floral wreaths, treating ailments, and making perfumes.
  • Carnation tea is said to help relax muscles, boost energy, and elevate mood.
  • In China, carnations are the most popular wedding flowers.
  • During Victorian times carnations were sent to deliver secret, coded messages.
  • The students of the prestigious Oxford University have an age-old tradition of wearing carnations of different colors to their exams for good luck.
  • The red carnation is Spain’s National flower and Ohio’s official state flower.
  • Children in Korea give carnations or mother flowers to their parents on Parents’ Day.

How to grow Mother (Carnation) flowers

Mother (carnation) flowers are popular garden flowers due to their vibrant colors and variety. Carnations come in annual, biennial, and perennial varieties, so there is bound to be one that will work in your garden. These adaptable plants can be cultivated in flower beds or pots.

  1. Plant the carnations in a well-draining, fertile soil that’s slightly alkaline, with a pH of around 6.7, to thrive. 
  2. Place them in a spot that receives six hours of sunlight per day.
  3. Combine potting mix with a few inches of aged organic material like compost a few days before planting to ensure good soil health.
  4. Water new plants deeply once a week.
  5. Surround plants with a layer of mulch.

How to care for Mother (Carnation) flowers

  1. Once established, water the carnation flowers when the top inch of the soil is completely dry. 
  2. Keep weeds at bay.
  3. Maintain soil temperature and moisture.
  4. Cut flower stems regularly.
  5. Remove any dying blooms or leaves to promote reblooming.

Best time to gift Mother (Carnation) flowers

Mother (carnation) flowers are very pretty flowers. These highly prized cut flowers can easily last for two weeks in the vase. They make special gifts due to their graceful look, freshness, and sweet, mild fragrance. Although these flowers can be gifted on any occasion, they are the must-give flowers during some special celebrations.

Mother flowers are the first choices in Mother’s Day bouquets. Since the mother flower’s meaning is so deeply connected to the special day celebrating the mother’s love, it can be given to mothers on all occasions.

Carnations are also the official birth month flower for those born in January. It’s a must-have for all birthday flower arrangements and bouquets in January.

Mother flowers are also the official flowers for 1st wedding anniversaries. These flowers make the perfect gift for couples celebrating their first year together.

Deep red carnations can be gifted anytime in romantic relationships, and light red carnations to express admiration.


A bouquet of the mother (carnation) flowers is a timeless gift to friends and loved ones for a birthday, graduation, Mother’s Day, Christmas, a thank you greeting, or a variety of other special occasions.

Depending on your chosen color, they can indicate love, admiration, gratitude, melancholy, sorrow, appreciation, and more. Carnation flowers are available in various colors and kinds year-round, giving you many options.

If you want to know and learn more about flowers, we at PansyMaiden can help you. Check out our fun, easy-to-read, and informative flower-related content that you will surely enjoy!