11 Traditional Italian Flowers You Should Try Growing
Italy is a top destination for tourists worldwide, with more than 60 million visits every year. The green countryside that’s deep-rooted in culture is one reason this country mesmerizes tourists every year.
Italians have also embraced the culture of growing flowers on their balconies. So, today we are discussing the traditional Italian flowers.
Aside from the flowers being grown on the balconies, you’ll also come across some vast flower gardens in rural areas.
And most of these flowers also symbolize something, which sometimes may differ from what they represent in other parts of the World.
Here are some of the popular traditional Italian flowers and what they mean.
11 Traditional Italian Flowers and their Meanings
The Lily is one of the most famous traditional Italian flowers. It’s commonly used as decorations for various celebrations, and Italians also gift it to loved ones as a token of appreciation.
Lilies symbolize what the Italians are most passionate about including love, moral values and family. (Interestingly, lily is also the national flower of France).
The scientific name for lily is lilium and is also called Asiatic lilies, stylized lily and oriental lily.
Lilies come in different colors, each of which represents a particular attribute.
The orange lily symbolizes passion, yellow lilies for happiness, white lilies for virginity and modesty, and the famous Lily of the Valley symbolizes purity.
Each flower has 4 to 8 petals, and they grow up to 6 ft in height. The Asiatic Lily is not fragrant but is often grown for its beauty and for essential oil extraction.
On the other hand, oriental lilies are known for their fragrance. Hybrids with varied fragrances and flower colors and types also exist.
Lilies are also easy to grow, either in a garden or in containers.
The rose (la Rosa in Italian) is another traditional Italian flower. It is also the national flower of Italy.
Like the Lily, roses can be found in most flower gardens across Italy, and their different colors have different meanings. Red roses represent love and passion. Yellow roses represent jealousy, blue roses for mystery, and white roses symbolize purity.
Like in other parts of the World, roses are some of the most bought flowers in Italy for different occasions. Culturally, Italians offer roses in odd numbers for happy occasions, and roses in even numbers are reserved for funerals.
The only exception is the number 12. Roses gifted in 12 symbolize marriage or the desire to spend the rest of your life with someone.
You can grow roses in containers and place them on your patio or indoors as long as they get enough sunlight.
Also known as chrysanths or mums, chrysanthemums are herbaceous flowering plants that date back to ancient times.
They first appeared in Europe and Eastern Asia before spreading to other parts of the World. Mums feature multi-petaled flowers that come in different colors; the leaves are often in an alternating pattern.
Today, there are more than 200,000 known cultivars of the mums globally.
In China, Japan, and most parts of the World, mums symbolize nobility, power, joy, and prosperity. However, you should be careful when gifting these flowers in Italy.
This is because they represent death. These flowers are stocked in shops in Italy towards the Day of The Dead, which is celebrated on November 2nd. On this day, Italians visit cemeteries with chrysanthemums and often leave them at the gravesite.
There are two types of mums, the exhibition and the garden hardy or “hardy mums.” If you want to grow some mums in your garden, you’re better off with the garden hardy since they can withstand most climates.
Exhibition mums are grown for ornamental purposes. In some parts of Asia, some chrysanthemum species are used to make a special type of tea.
Pyrethrum is also part of the genus chrysanthemum, and it’s a naturally occurring pesticide.
Orchids are some of the most popular flowering plants, and they occur in several varying species and differently shaped flowers. Besides being grown all over the World, orchids are also a symbol of love.
In Italy, different colors of orchids have different meanings. White orchids are a symbol of pureness, and rose orchids symbolize love.
Orchids are common gifts during weddings and anniversaries. For instance, the pink orchid is considered the perfect gift for the 14th wedding anniversary, while a cream orchid is offered on the 28th anniversary.
Growing orchids indoors isn’t that complicated. All you need is shallow well-drained soil, potting mix, or any other nutrient-rich medium, a container, and a room with a south-facing window.
They tolerate cool temperatures and indirect sunlight instead of direct. You will need to water it regularly but make sure the soil is dry before watering.
#5. Sunflowers (Girasole)
Sunflowers are one of the vibrant native Italian flowers you should try growing in your garden.
When growing up, we lived close to a large sunflower farm, and we would often sneak to eat the sunflower seeds.
And then I got to visit the Tuscany region in Italy, and got to see vast lands of sunflowers, which have a special glow under the glowing sun.
Anyone who’s been there will tell you, this region is associated with sunflower, and it’s become part of their culture.
While sunflowers are grown as a cash crop in most parts of Italy, they are also a symbol of love, good intentions, happiness, and vigor.
They are the perfect gift for when someone achieves a major goal in their life, such as a promotion, getting a job of their dreams, or even graduation.
While mimosa stands for a genus of more than 400 species, the most common specie is the Mimosa pudica. Puffy yellow flowers characterize Mimosa pudica, and it’s also known as the “touch-me-not” since it folds when touched.
This specie is also different from the acacia dealbata, which the cocktail “mimosa” is named after. Some mimosas are also known to spread when temperatures are high and fold when it gets cold.
But these movements aren’t the only reason mimosas are famous. In Italy, Russia, and possibly other parts of the world, it has been a tradition to offer women mimosa flowers on International Women’s Day.
This tradition dates back to after WWII, and it’s believed the yellow color represents solidarity and feminism. The yellow color is also painted across Italy on this day to appreciate women.
Peonies are herbaceous perennial plants that are native to Europe, Asia, and North America.
They are known for their fragrance and large flowers whose colors include pink, yellow, red, purple, and white.
There are currently more than 30 species of peonies. In Italy, peonies symbolize discretion. But they may symbolize shame, riches, and honor in China or the commemoration of the fallen soldiers in the Battle of Kosovo by the Serbians.
They are also common wedding bouquet flowers.
If you happen to move them from one location to another, they may take years to flourish again. But once they do, they will bloom for decades, mostly during late spring and early summer.
In fact, they are one of the perennials that flower all summer.
Before planting them indoors, you should know that peonies attract ants due to the nectar they produce.
Carnation flowers may have originated from the Mediterranean region, and their existence was first documented about 2000 years ago in Greek literature.
It’s characterized by green leaves and flowers that grow into a cyme.
There are many theories as to where the name “carnation” came from. Some believe it’s from “coronation” since carnations were used in Greek crowns.
And others believe it came from carnis, a Latin word meaning “flesh.”
The scientific name is Dianthus caryophyllus because these flowers are associated with the Greek god, Diana.
In Christendom, it is widely believed that these flowers came from Virgin Mary’s tears during Jesus’ crucifixion. This is why they are common gifts for Mother’s day since they symbolize motherly love.
Like in other traditional flowers, different flower colors have different meanings. Dark red carnations represent affection, and they’re often part of wedding bouquets. Pink is for gratitude, while light red symbolizes admiration.
#9. Buttercups (Ranunculus)
Buttercups belong to the genus Ranunculus, the name they were called when they first got to Europe. This genus has over 400 species. They first appeared in Asia before moving to Europe and later spreading across the World.
Buttercups feature vibrant colors such as white, yellow, or pink. And the yellow flowers often have reflective petals.
The flowers can form a cyme or appear single, and the leaves usually form a rosette along the stem. In Italy, buttercups are a symbol of innocence, humility, or playfulness.
#10. Italian Poppies
Also known as the Tuscany poppies, these traditional Italian flowers have found their place in Italy’s landscape.
They are referred to as Tuscany poppies because the soil and climate of Tuscan, Italy are conducive for their growth.
The flowers have up to 6 petals, and they are often dark red, but they could be of any color.
They often bloom at the beginning of May, an indication that the summer season is around the corner.
Italian poppies are also grown to ensure good harvests, a tradition that originated from Greek mythology. These flowers are also symbols of death or eternal sleep, and Romans often used them at gravesites.
Also known as Nerium or Nerium Oleanders, the oleander is a shrub that’s native to the Mediterranean region (including Italy).
Some people also believe they originated from North Africa. These shrubs grow up to 20 feet in height and are characterized by five-lobed flowers that could either be pink, white, or red.
Traditionally, this shrub grows along river beds, but it’s now a common ornamental plant grown worldwide. But don’t let the beautiful flowers and flourishing foliage fool you.
The Oleanders are poisonous to animals and humans, and they shouldn’t be ingested. However, considering how bitter they are, I don’t think anyone would want to eat them anyway.
But they make good gifts as they do symbolize desire, everlasting love, and destiny.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Flower Represents Italy?
The flower that represents Italy is the rose. It is the national flower of Italy and it symbolizes love, romance, passion and beauty.
What is the Most Popular Flower in Italy?
The lily is the most popular flower in Italy. Lilies represent all the virtues that Italians hold dear to heart.
Which Flower is the Native of Southern Italy?
The flower that is native to southern Italy is sweet pea (native to Sicily and Aegean Island specifically), which is a climbing plant that can grow up to 10 feet tall.
Conclusion – Popular Flowers in Italy
Italy is home to a wide range of flowers, but those I’ve highlighted in this list are some of the main ones that represent Italy as a country. From love, desire, adoration, family, and mourning, there’s a flower for everything Italians stand for. And they’re gorgeous too and easy to grow. So if you’d love to bring the beauty, fragrance, and meaning behind the flowers to your home, just check the growing requirements and make sure they match your region.