Friends do some awfully heavy lifting in our lives, from riding along on our adventures to talking us out of making terrible life choices. Sending flowers can help us show our appreciation for them and express our gratitude for their willingness to put up with our nonsense.
Below, we’ll guide you through the best ways to celebrate your friends with flowers. We’ll tell you when to give flowers, explain why it’s not a great idea to go looking for flowers that “mean” friendship and give you tips on how to choose flowers your friend will love.
We’ll also show you our top 20 picks for the flowers friendship deserves: what they are, when to give them and how long they last.
When to Send a Friend Flowers
Generally speaking, it’s considered a kindness to send flowers if a friend is ill or hospitalized or if they’ve lost someone close to them (including pets).
Flowers can be a nice gesture if your friend is going through a break-up or had a major disappointment of some kind. That said, some friend types will not want to draw attention to a sad life event. Only you can know whether and when a particular friend would appreciate the gesture at any particular time.
Happy occasions like a birthday, a new job, a new home, a new baby, a promotion or a big accomplishment are great times to send friends flower gifts. And you can’t go wrong with sending flowers to say thank-you.
You can also send flowers on National Friendship Day (the first Sunday in August) or Galentine’s Day (February 13) or buck the whole system and send them just because your friend deserves them.
What Flower Represents Friendship?
You may have heard this already, but during the Victorian period, people had a whole language of flowers that allowed them to send coded messages about their feelings, presumably because feelings are hard and no one was encouraged to express them.
In addition to romantic communications, 19th-century folks had notions about what flower symbolizes friendship and different kinds of friendly feelings. You can choose flowers according to this code, but you should know that Victorian ideas about what flower represents friendship were weird and you will be sending weird flowers to your friends if you follow their example.
Here’s a little taste of this code. You could send sweet basil for good wishes or arborvitae (it’s an evergreen) to express unchanging friendship. You could send sage to tell your friend you esteem them. Or pear leaves to comfort them.
Not every friendship flower is that wacky, but the point here is that your friend will not know what you mean by these gifts. Rather than trying to find a flower that symbolizes friendship, find flowers that will brighten your friend’s day.
How to Choose Flowers for a Friend
Our best advice is to talk to your florist. They are trained in the art of choosing the right flowers for the occasion and in the art of making those flowers look good. If you don’t have a florist you trust or if you have no florist and are perhaps acquiring flowers by looting people’s gardens by night, keep the following suggestions in mind:
- The best flowers to gift a friend are the flowers they like best. Try to find out their favourites.
- If you don’t know what specific flowers they like, choose flowers in their favourite colours.
- If you don’t know what your friend’s favourite colours are, pick flowers in the shades you often see your friend wear, or the shades they seem to decorate their homes in.
- When sending flowers that express friendship, flower color is pretty straightforward. Red flowers are more commonly sent to romantic partners. White flowers tend to be for weddings and funerals. Yellow is a popular flower color for friendship, but really, any other colour is a good one.
- Think about scent. Some flowers are very strong (jasmine and lilies, for example)—if your friend has scent sensitivities, steer clear of them.
- Choose flowers that are easy to care for and long lasting. Below are some of our favourites.
The 20 Best Types of Flowers for Friendship
Alstroemeria are versatile and you can find them in virtually any colour palette. Delicate and refined, they’re as lovely as a get-well gift as they are as a post-break-up bouquet. They last 2 weeks in a vase—plenty of time to be looked at and admired.
Lovely and lively, asters are great casual flowers of friendship for a thank-you, birthday or celebration arrangement. You can find them in blues, pinks, purples, red and white. These beauties can go 5-10 days in a vase.
Calla lilies are sleek and graceful. They’re not a traditional symbol of friendship flower, but they are perfect gift for a sophisticated friend or someone who appreciates the finer things in life. They’ll last 1-2 weeks in a vase, depending on how well they’re cared for.
These flowers are a real workhorse of the florist industry, but although they’re common, they’re never boring. You can just pick the colour to suit the occasion and always end up with a gift that’s lovely and on point. Expect them to live 1-2 weeks once cut.
Celosia is for your dramatic friend who likes everything to be just a little extra. Celosia’s colours are ultra bright, so they’re a good choice for a festive occasion. Tone them down by using them sparingly in an arrangement. Or, you know, don’t. Just let them shine. They can go 2 weeks once cut.
A perfect fall friend flower, chrysanthemums have a rustic charm and a warm colour palette. They’re super long lasting—up to 5 weeks in a vase—so they’re a good choice for someone who could use some long-term cheer after a break-up, a job loss or the death of a loved one.
Only monsters don’t love daffodils. Daffodils are cheerful, they’re bright, they’re a classic sign that winter is over—they make a great pick-me-up and a nice, casual just-because gift. Regrettably, they only last 3-5 days when cut. Potted arrangements are a good alternative for lengthening their lifespans.
Dahlias run the gamut from petite and delicate to oversized and over the top. Their varieties are bright, long-lasting and constantly surprising. Choose dinner plate dahlias for a birthday surprise or smaller pom-pom varieties for a thank-you or just-because gift. They’ll only last 3-4 days in a vase but put on quite a show while they’re there.
Cheerful daisies are a simple flower of friendship that’s suitable for just about any occasion. Pair the classic white bloom with yellow daisies or gerberas for a more festive pop of colour. Perfect for a wild-child friend. Expect them to last 7-10 days in a vase.
Delphiniums are a striking gift, with their tall spikes and understated colours. For a friend who’s artsy or fashion-forward, or someone who just appreciates a bit of drama and height in their décor, these make elegant alternatives to more common blooms. In a vase, they’ll go 6-8 days.
Like alstroemeria, freesias have a gorgeous and wide-ranging colour palette. They’re a beloved favourite and you’d be hard pressed to find an occasion that they wouldn’t work for. These are long-lasting flowers—3 weeks in a vase when cared for properly.
Bold and bright, gladiolas are a less run-of-the-mill gift that make a splash as a birthday, celebration or just-because arrangement. Send gladiolas when you want to make a big statement—they’re tall flowers that take up more real estate than some other floral options. They last about 10 days when cut.
Hydrangea blossoms are big and beautiful, with soft colouring and a dreamy appeal. They’re classic without being too showy. The only downside here is that they’ll last about 2-3 days, cut. Not a lot of time, but these blooms do make the most of it. Consider a potted arrangement for a longer-lasting gift.
Sometimes a potted indoor plant is the best option for a friend. These little plants need very little in the way of care and they bloom in bright shades of reds, oranges, yellows, pinks and white. The flowers last up to 6 months, making them perfect as get-well or condolence gifts.
A pot or a bouquet of lavender makes a lovely present for a new home or a thoughtful pick-me-up or get-well gift. The scent invites peace and tranquility and your friend can make a relaxing tea out of the flowers and leaves. The flowers last 10 days when cut.
Yellow roses, specifically, are widely considered an iconic flower for friendship. As a birthday or celebration gift, you can’t go wrong with this classic choice. Steer clear of other colours of rose, though—they’re traditionally more for romance. Cared for properly, roses last 1-2 weeks when cut.
For a friend who embraces their childhood sense of wonder, or their crunchy granola side, snapdragons make fantastic bouquets. They’re a less common gift that brightens any occasion. Snapdragons have a surprising range of colours, so choose the shades to fit the mood. Expect 7-10 days out of them once they’re cut.
An iconic friendship flower, sunflowers will add cheer to a room, anytime and anyplace. Give them to make sad occasions lighter and happy occasions even more meaningful. Be on the lookout for varieties that go beyond the classic yellow. They’ll last 5-12 days, depending on variety.
You can find tulips in just about any colour and in a growing range of double and fringed varieties. Choose a ruffled or striped variety to celebrate happy events or a smooth, single variety when you need something more subdued. In a vase, tulips last about 10 days.
Zinnias are one of the chameleons of the flower world. They offer many colours and flower forms, but all of them are vibrant and lovely. Choose zinnias for a casual birthday, thank-you, just-because or celebration gift or to wish someone a speedy recovery from an illness. They last from 7-12 days once cut.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when giving flowers to a friend. Dried arrangements, edible flowers you can use to make salads or cocktails for a party, a flower friendship bracelet, even friendship flower tattoos are unique and memorable ways to show someone you care about them. Remember that the best flower for friendship is the one you give with feeling.