What are Posies? History, Meanings & Why They’re Different to Bouquets

What are Posies? History, Meanings & Why They’re Different to Bouquets

Learn about the history and meanings of posies, plus how to make your own posy at home!
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Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a bouquet and a posy? They're both types of floral arrangements. They can both be made up of a single type of flower, like roses or peonies, or feature a mix of different flowers. And both can be hand-tied, wrapped and displayed in a vase.

So what's the difference, then? 

The answer lies mainly in their size.

What is a posy?

posy of asters and daffodils

A posy, also called a nosegay or a tussie-mussie (though not so much today), is really just a small bunch of flowers. But just how small varies—posies can be small enough to pin on a jacket lapel like a boutonniere, or large enough to fit in a flower jar.

By comparison, bouquets tend to be large and extravagant, with lots of wow-factor. You'd have a hard time pinning a bouquet to your jacket!

Bouquets also tend to be elaborately arranged, while a posy can be a bit more simplistic. You could pick a few stems from the garden and give them to someone as a posy, but this would not pass for a bouquet.

History & meanings of flower posies

Posies really gained popularity during the Victorian age. Back then, strict rules of social etiquette dictated what was and wasn't proper for someone to say. And so the clever Victorians used floriography—the language of flowers—to say discreetly what they couldn't say aloud.

Posies were given as a means of conveying not-so-secret messages. The different types of flowers used in a posy, and their placement, had specific meanings.

A posy of red roses, for instance, sent a message of love and devotion. A posy of pink roses, on the other hand, would suggest a fleeting crush.

In Victorian times, a woman could tell a man she wasn't interested in him with a posy of candytuft and yellow carnations, which famously signified rejection. A posy of periwinkle and acacia sent a message of budding friendship, while a bunch of forget-me-nots and goldenrod told someone who was moving away that they'd be missed.

Even the way a posy was handed to someone could convey a different meaning—handing it to someone with your right hand meant yes, and with the left meant no.

Posies in the 21st century

bright pink and yellow posy

Nowadays, posies are still given as gifts, but they don't tend to carry the same meanings that they did back in the 1800s. Instead, giving someone a posy is simply thought of as a lovely gesture, one that's usually very much appreciated!

While yellow carnations can today feature in a posy without being a symbol of rejection, the language of flowers has not been entirely forgotten. Red roses are the most famous example: they're still the universal symbol of love and romance!

Certain flower colours also maintain their traditional meanings to this day. Here's a quick summary:

  • Red flowers: love, desire and passion
  • White flowers: purity, innocence, reverence and humility
  • Pink flowers: grace, admiration and joy
  • Yellow flowers: friendship, joy and new beginnings
  • Orange flowers: excitement and energy
  • Green flowers: health, good luck and abundance
  • Purple flowers: admiration, respect, royalty and dignity
  • Blue flowers: trust, faith and wisdom.

How to make a posy

Making your own posy is a great way to show someone you care, and it's also a lot of fun!

Start by choosing your favourite blooms—they can be fresh or dried.

Once you've selected your flowers, strip off any low-hanging leaves and cut the stems to your desired length. Keep in mind that posies are supposed to be smaller and shorter than bouquets, so you may need to chop off a fair amount of stem.

Next, arrange your stems in a small flower jar or a short vase. You can use sticky tape to create a grid over the top of the vase, to help you arrange the stems nicely and hold them in place. Alternatively, you can tie your posy together using twine or ribbon.

And that's it—you've made your very own posy, ready to be given as a gift to a loved one or to be put on display in your own home!

Send a posy with Floraly

pink and white posy next to floraly box

Of course, if you're looking to send the perfect posy without having to arrange it yourself, you've come to the right place!

At Floraly, we have a great selection of flower posies for all occasions, from bright pink and yellow posies for happy occasions, to more subdued white and neutral posies for sombre occasions.

All of our posies come arranged inside a free glass flower jar, so your lucky recipient just has to add water and pop them on display.

Explore our range of posies via the button below, and send joy to someone you care about today!

shop posies

Or you can explore our Flower Delivery Melbourne and Flower Delivery Sydney collections to see what flowers we can deliver to your loved ones in these locations.