Unexpected Meanings of Flowers Revealed: Monique Evancic (Transcript)

But if she grabbed it with her right hand facing up, it’s game on; hence, the modern-day wedding bouquet. Okay, you can put your skinny jeans back on because we’re heading into the present.

Has anybody heard of the Duchenne smile? It’s the scientific term for a truly genuine smile. And it’s what researchers at Rutgers University observed when they conducted a study on the connection between flowers and emotions. They gave a variety of thank-you gifts to female participants and then measured their facial expressions.

Unlike other gifts, like a candle or a fruit basket, every single participant that received a floral bouquet reacted with that authentic Duchenne smile, indicating that flowers have an immediate impact on happiness.

The results also showed that flowers have a long-term positive effect on mood. Even days later, participants reported feeling less depressed and less anxious.

There was also a social byproduct to this flower experiment. The study revealed that the bouquets were displayed in common areas of the home, illustrating that we have a desire to share the same warm feelings that flowers bring us, with others.

The human relationship with flowers goes back quite a ways. One theory suggests that in early agrarian societies, flowers were considered weeds and immediately yanked when they popped up in the corners of the precious real estate that we use to grow food for our survival.

But at some point, a shift occurred. Perhaps when we grew enough to feed our bellies, we made room for these blooms to feed our souls.

Now indulge me for a minute. I’m going to play the flower doctor and hand out prescriptions for modern-day scenarios. This first one comes to us from Chris W. He says, “I’m in a new relationship, and things are going really well. I think she could be the one.

But I want to come clean about the fact that I never submitted her application materials to her overseas dream job because I’m afraid of losing her. Please help.” Oh boy.

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Well, Chris, there’s a couple things involved here, so we need to take a two-pronged approach to your bouquet.

First, your desire to be honest with her is admirable, but we’ve got to tackle the deception, and you’ll need snapdragons for that. Then comes the apology. Pair that with purple hyacinth, which means “Please forgive me.” Good luck.

This next one comes to us from Julie P. She says, “Long-time listener, first-time caller. I’ve been dating a guy for a few months now, and he’s very charming. But recently I found out that he’s selfish and he can’t be trusted. He essentially tried to sabotage my future. How do I cut this guy loose?”

Oh. Dear Julie, what I hear you saying is that it’s too little, too late, and you’re looking for an epic way to dump this unsupportive fellow. I have just the thing. Gather up a few striped carnations, which mean you’re outright refusing him. Then couple that with a scarlet geranium. It symbolizes stupidity. You should be all set.

Finally, Heather asks, “I’m a small business owner, and my firm recently landed a big account. I couldn’t have done it without the long hours and creativity that my team put in. How should I thank them?”

In this case, Heather, the right flower for the job is technically a leafy shrub. Laurel has long been associated with victory and success, so you could give them each a beautiful wreath. White bellflower is also a good choice, as it conveys gratitude. Congrats.

Whatever the situation, there’s a flower for that, and this is as true today as it was 200 years ago. So forget about bigger is better. My feelings for you are not directly proportional to the size or cost of an arrangement. Instead, the real value lies in the meaning of the flowers you choose. This elevates the gesture. So think about what this person means to you and what the situation calls for to harness the timeless language of flowers.

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Thank you.

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