Flower language

Flower Etiquette In Russia

Flowers are beautiful. But what is more important – flowers are symbolic. Flowers follow us on all special occasions. Knowing “flower etiquette” is key, especially if you live in Russia. I am your guide, follow me!

Flowers – General guidance

  • Always give an uneven number of flowers. Unless it is a funeral, in that case you should bring even number of flowers (that rule is for up to a dozen flowers, but most people will follow it even if they give a big bouquet – such as 51 roses for the 50th Birthday)
  • Give a lot of flowers. Russian people love flowers. You cannot go wrong with too many flowers
  • Know which flowers are proper for which occasion, read below

Flowers – Love, Dating & Other Occasions

  • Love in Russia is strongly associated with flowers. Ideal boyfriend ALWAYS brings flowers to a date and gives flowers for special occasions
  • red roses

    red roses – symbol of love

    What kind of flowers? That depends on the lady’s taste. Most women love long stem red roses, and only very few may think it is cheesy. To be on the safe side, you can start with white or off white roses in the beginning of relationship and progress in density of color as your love gets stronger.

  • Some women would think though that roses are faux pax. In that case opt for either simple field flowers or exotic ones

    wildflowers

    wildflowers

  • Ask which flowers she likes (and if she likes roses – which color is best). Some girls love green roses or tea-colored roses
  • Avoid yellow flowers – many people think they are bad omen and lead to a break up
  • The least sexy flowers? Carnations! Why? Because it is associated with the Soviet holidays
  • Make bouquets look classy (no plastic, just a cute ribbon around) If in doubt – give as much flowers as you can – your date will love that!
  • Choose fresh flowers. We do believe that if flowers stay fresh long – it means they were presented with love and care
  • Think about circumstances of the date. If you are meeting a girl in a café, flowers may be ok since most cafes would have vases in that case. But if you are going to movie theater (and, especially the theater) – avoid bringing flowers. Your date will get tired holding them during the movie and will get upset if flowers die without water
  • Never ever bring your love flowers in a pot, unless houseplants are her hobby. Houseplants are also right for families or older women, but also if you know they have houseplants at home
  • If you are a girl – you do not have to give a Russian man flowers unless he has died or has a really big birthday (50th or 60th). If you are a man – same thing – flowers would be appropriate only for a very big birthday (if in doubt, do not bring flowers). If you decide to bring flowers to a man, make the bouquet look manly (dark, large flowers)
  • Some flowers are especially relevant to some occasions. For example – mimosa used to be a flower of 8th of March, International Womens Day. Now though it seems like tulips are more welcome for that date

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Flowers – Visiting a Russian home

  • Again – flowers are very welcome. Your best bet is a nice (and not over the top) bouquet of flowers. You want to give that bouquet to the lady of the house. Make sure that you bring wine or sweets too
  • If you know that the family likes houseplants, those may be appropriate. But present flowers in pots only if you are sure. Some people do not like to care for house plants. Also, if you present a plant in the pot, make sure you know people’s tastes. Some people love orchids, some care about low maintenance succulents or violets
My violets

Violets at my place

Flowers For School

  • gladiolus

    Gladiolus – 1st of September

    If your child goes to a Russian school – opt for gladiolus (3 flowers) or astra (5 flowers) on September 1st

  • gladiolusAny color works. For some reason red gladiolus are the most typical
  • Avoid lilies or other flowers which could cause allergies or just have an acute smell. Flowers will be in the classroom and at the teacher’s home afterwards

Flowers – If You Visit A Friend In The Hospital

  • Make sure a hospital allows visits and accepts flowers first of all. Buy such flowers that do not smell, just to avoid allergies. I guess that is a universal advice for any country though
lilies

lilies are beautiful, but can cause allergies

  • Most patients will be happy to see flowers, but what they would love to see even more – oranges or other fruit, chocolates, biscuits and other food (from the allowed list) or something to read or watch

I have a feeling that I missed something. Please let me know, what. Have you had a funny situations with flowers in Russia? What is the flower etiquette in your country? How important are flowers, where you live? Please share your stories! 

Leave a Reply

  • illusionary - 2 years ago

    “If you are a girl – you do not have to give a Russian man flowers unless he has died …”
    still laughing :D

  • illusionary - 2 years ago

    Thanks for the article! Very helpful to know that. I should have known it earlier, once I brought my girlfriend yellow flowers…

  • Richard Gray - 2 years ago

    Я отметил несколько грамматических ошибок в статье, я студент русского языка и мой народный язык английский. Если хотите, то послайте мне имайл и мы можем друг с другом отработать, но если вы хотите!

    • Tanya Golubeva - 1 year ago

      Hi Richard,

      Yes, unfortunately I do make grammar mistakes in my texts. I speak English quite well for a foreigner, but I am not a native speaker.
      I am now planning to book the blog and I will get in touch with you regarding proofreading. Thank you!
      I can also correct some things in your Russian if you need (although I admire people, who have learned Russian to the level that you have mastered)

      Best,
      Tanya

  • David Roddis - 1 year ago

    There is very little left in the way of flower tradition here. But red roses are strongly associated with “true love” and would probably be considered over-the-top for a first date – yet perfect for St. Valentine’s Day, in February, because that IS a tradition. Potted plants are for your mother or grandmother (or for someone in hospital)! And some consider it a faux pas to bring flowers when invited for dinner – it is assumed the host/hostess will have their own flowers for the decor, and bringing flowers means an extra task for the hostess…

    Regarding the comment on your English: Your English is quite close to perfect, and to be honest most English people find it charming when a non-native speaker is “almost” perfect. It is like hearing English with a little Russian accent. That’s just my opinion, of course.

  • Karen Flanagan - 1 year ago

    What about a very high quality silk flower to give at a wedding? I’m an Australian attending a wedding next year in Moscow.

    • Tanya Golubeva - 1 year ago

      Hi, Karen!
      I have never seen silk flowers, but think that it would be a unique present for the wedding!
      Is it like an orchid in a box? Just curious :-)
      If in doubt – maybe ask relatives of the bride or groom (from the Russian side)
      Best,
      Tanya

  • Peter - 9 months ago

    Can men work ås florists?

    • Tanya Golubeva - 8 months ago

      Yes, sure! Not a great money though in this profession

  • Nikita - 3 months ago

    Hello, I bought a special someone 101 roses, because I remember several months back that she told me that 101 was customary in Russia? Is this true? Not that it matters now, because I ordered them already. I am just curious. Also, I told the Florist that I wanted a mixture but only white and red roses. Is that okay? Or would that be sending mixed signals? I really am curious, because I definitely wouldn’t want to upset this very special someone…

  • Lewis MyHum - 3 months ago

    Hi, may i ask do color of flowers matter apart from yellow.

    I am curious to know about pink and black color, does russian women accept it?

  • Anonymous - 1 month ago

    It seems like roses are most popular for dates in the midwestern US, with carnations being used early in dating or when the gentleman is low on cash. Colorful, inexpensive bouquets are often available at grocery and convenience stores as well. White roses are considered an apology flower, pink is for friendship or non-sexual romance, and red is most passionate.

    Boyfriends can give flowers for special occasions, such as anniversaries of any relationship milestone, birthdays, or special holidays like Valentine’s day. Be careful if you’re giving flowers any other time. Any bouquet might be considered an apology flower. There’s an idea here that an unexpected bouquet means he feels guilty about something (like an affair).

    The better bet is to learn what her favorite flower is, and give her that. As with anything in a relationship, talking with her about when she would enjoy flowers is also a good idea.

    I have never seen someone bring flowers to a dinner, but it might happen by request. Also, if the bringer has a particularly beautiful and plentiful cut flower in their garden, they might bring a bunch to show off and/or share the bounty.

    Both cut flowers and potted plants are common for funerals, but there is some extra sadness for the survivors when either dies.

    Bringing flowers to the hospital is considered important for the patient’s health, unless the part of the hospital doesn’t allow them.

    Potted plants are often given as housewarming gifts.

    Cut flowers or potted plants are also given for Mother’s Day, usually using the mother’s favorite color, plant, or flower.

  • Astavisa - 1 month ago

    Hi, there! I just found this blog and it’s cool! Never know there is a friendly person telling how to understand Russia in such a understandable way. I’m from Indonesia, and despite some experiences, I can tell that the flower etiquettes doesn’t really considered important too. People tend to choose with standard choices like: bright or calm color’s roses for neutral and happy occasion, synthetic-flowerwall for condolences.