Tussie Mussies and The Language of Flowers

The phrase “tussie mussie” comes from a medieval word that means “sweet posy.” Originally, they were fragrant, floral nosegays carried by both men and women to help mask foul odors and protect themselves from disease.

Tussie Mussies

Garden Flowers ~ tussie mussies ~gardenmatter.com

Plants such as lavender, rosemary, thyme and sage were specifically used during the plague because of their disinfectant properties, as well as for their strong fragrance.

Tussie Mussie Boquet ~ gardenmatter.com

Eventually, tussie mussies became part of floriography, the art of sending messages by flowers. By the late 18th century and throughout the Victorian Era, tusssie mussies had gained in popularity, so much so that antique floral dictionaries were handed down from Mother to Daughter as a means of teaching them this very important social grace.

cottage flowers ~ tussie mussie ~ gardenmatter.com


The following were taken from “The Language of Flowers” by Kate Greenaway originally published in London, 1884. For a more modern version of flowers and their meaning check out thelanguageofflowers.com

Deep Red              Alas ! for my poor heart
Yellow                    Disdain

Red                       I love
White                   Truth
Yellow                  Slighted love

Daffodil                    Regard
Dahlia                      Instability
Daisy                       Innocence
Fern                        Fascination
Foxglove                  Insincerity
Larkspur                  Lightness

White                   Purity
Yellow                  Gaiety

Burgundy           Unconscious beauty
Red                      Love
White                   I am worthy of you
Yellow                  Jealousy

Rosemary                Remembrance
Snapdragon             Presumption
Sunflower                Adoration

   Red                       Declaration of love
   Yellow                  Hopeless love
   Variegated           Beautiful eyes

Zinnia                     Thoughts of absent friends

On this Valentine’s Day, instead of a dozen red roses, consider giving someone you like, or love, a tussie mussie with flowers, handpicked for their meaning. Since most of us do not have a floral dictionary, tuck in a card to explain the special meaning of your bouquet.




Learn about tussie mussies and the old art of giving bouquets of flowers with special meanings.

About Patti Estep

Patti is the creator of Hearth and Vine, a home and garden blog filled with projects to inspire your creative side. She loves crafting, gardening, decorating and entertaining at her home in Pennsylvania. When she is not working on a project at home or searching for treasures at nurseries and thrift stores with her girlfriends, you’ll probably find her with family and friends, at a restaurant, or home party enjoying new and different food adventures.

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  1. Arlene Blissell says:

    Pat, I very much enjoy your postings. This winter is long and cold, as they all are here, but I must admit, I am counting the days to warmer weather. Take care, and thanks for lifting the deep freeze,


    • Arleeeeen! So glad you like it. This is the worst winter yet… You were one of my early inspirations for gardening. I still think of you when I’m out in the yard. Especially when I come upon on of the many plants you have shared with me. Hope to see you soon maybe at a spring garden party and plant swap.

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