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Quick History of Floral Arrangements and Design

Quick History of Floral Arrangements and Design

Through changing times, styles and trends have come and gone. But flower arrangements have continuously expressed our love for nature. They’ve played a huge part in our admiration of life’s beauty!

Each stunning creation is a work of art! It brings about a bright, delightful ambience anywhere it’s placed. But where did flower arrangements emerge? Whose idea was it to place flowers with each other and for what purpose? What did flowers mean to people in the olden days?


How did fashions in floral design develop as time went on? What produced these changes?

Today, we’ll answer all these questions. We’ll get a brief but exciting peek into the wonderful history of flower arrangements!

Interested in a formal course? Want to get authorized as an expert on everything on flowers? We recommend looking into organizations that offer programs in floristry, such as:

  • American Institute of Floral Designers
  • Society of American Florists
  • American Floral Endowment

Ancient Times

The earliest records of floral design go back to 2500-2600 BCE in Ancient Egypt. Historical experts discovered that Egyptians were the first to artistically set flowers in a vase. They were often used for banquets and religious ceremonials. Ancient Egyptians also used them to honor the dead in last rites and processions.

Lotus flowers are often acknowledged as the most significant flowers of that era. Egyptians believed they were sacred to the goddess Isis. In Egyptian art, men and women were often exhibited holding lotus flowers in their hands. The same attitudes towards the religious values of flowers were found in Ancient China. Confucians, Buddhists, and Taoists set cut flowers on altars.

Florists were held in high regard and given immense respect. Ancient Chinese art also painted florals on vases, scrolls, and carvings.

Flowers and leaves were also often placed together based on what meanings they kept. Peonies signified wealth and good fortune. This is why they are known and celebrated as the ‘king of flowers‘.

Tiger lilies and orchids signified fertility. Pear and peach trees embodied long and abundant lives. In Ancient Greece and Rome, flowers were mostly used for impressive decor in a show of wealth. They weaved flowers and foliage into wreaths for joyful festivities.

Their love of flowers is notable. Blooms were often shown in art and written into myths.

Wreaths also marked the celebration of victories. In Ancient Greece, they awarded wreaths to champions of the early Olympic games. This tradition remains to this day. They also enjoyed artistry and creativity with flowers. Historians say that the very first mixed flower arrangement was from the Romans.


Middle Ages

The Byzantines carried on with the floral designs of the Roman empire. They placed more importance on perfect symmetry and refined looks.They took on garland-making too. But they created their own twist on it by adding in fruit and foliage, making tree-like designs.

Gold and jewel tones were prevailing during this era. Popular flowers included carnations, cypress, daisies, and lilies. After the Roman empire fell, there was an artistic decline in the Middle Ages. Sadly, this extended to floral design.

Monks were the only ones to carry on with the art of floristry, using florals in monasteries. Inspired by Oriental styles, they often set their flowers in Chinese vases.



The Renaissance era saw a spirited resurgence of art and culture. This meant people found a new appreciation for beauty and life in all forms. Italians were the first to express their new zest for creativity in floristry. Full, lavish flower arrangements were presented in feasts. Others started to include them as decor for homes and churches.

Renaissance floral design was often interested in pure beauty and symmetry. Bright and bold color triads were in style, crafted with arc, ellipse, and triangle shapes. Flowers were also often coupled with different kinds of fruits and vegetables.

These were placed in a wide array of containers, from bowls to baskets to vases. But they were all designed to cover the stems and only emphasize the blooms.

People of this era also added special meanings to flowers, such as love, purity, and goodness. Among the most sought-after flowers then were carnations, daisies, irises, lilies, marigolds, and violets.


Victorian Era

Affluence, luxury, propriety– these were the distinct traits of the Victorian Era. Flower bouquets became a way to exhibit wealth and good breeding. This is why they became extremely lavish and elaborate. Luxurious homes had ornate vases teeming with gorgeous masses of flowers.

Ladies were educated on the art of floral design as a part of their upbringing. It was also during this time that floral design was officially taught and studied as a form of art.

Floral fashions in the Victorian era set itself apart from other periods. People then weren’t all that interested in symmetry, consistency, or color palettes.

They were more involved with how many flowers were in a vase, rather than with how they appeared. Bouquets were compact and overflowing.

Rich, heavy colors like purples, blues, reds, and browns were in style for floral design. Flowers were often arranged in a round shape. Foliage and herbs were placed in for added aroma and texture. Roses, tulips, carnations, baby’s breath, and lilacs were among the most popular flowers.


20th Century

Attention to floral design peaked in the USA during the 1930s. It was then determined to have its own rules by the Women’s Garden Club. Traditional designs were involved with making clean, balanced arrangements. They offered texture and depth but only stuck to a specific design pattern.

Later on, free style became more in demand. With no strict patterns, there was more free rein to explore various color palettes, rhythms, sizes, and plant materials. There were more natural styles that consisted of rocks, branches, and foliage. Japanese influences were also headlined, marked by simplicity and openness.

Today, trends in floral designs continue to progress! Now, there are countless choices for floral design that embrace everyone’s unique tastes and style!