Birthday Flower Facts Flower Information Meaning & Symbolism Summer

August Birth Flowers: Gladiolus and Poppy

Close-up of purple gladiolus flowers blooming outside

The birth flowers for those born during the sultry late summer days of August reflect the season with intense colors and dramatic blooms. August birth flowers include the poppy and gladiolus, both late summer bloomers known for their beauty and a myriad of symbolic meanings. While every month is represented by two flowers, it’s not always the case that both flowers work well in a bouquet. August stands out in that both poppies and gladioli are popular in bouquets and arrangements.

Flowers have been associated with birth months since ancient Rome, and evolved as a beloved custom around the world. As we mentioned, each month is represented by two flowers, which means more choices and ways to personalize birthday bouquets. Not just a choice between two flowers, but a myriad of varieties and vibrant colors, plus layers of symbolism that you can fine-tune according to the flower genus, variety, and color. 

Primary August Birth Flower: Gladiolus (Gladiolus)

Pink and yellow gladiolus flowers blooming outside

The tall, handsome gladiolus flower gets its name from the Latin word gladius, meaning sword, because of its saber-like appearance. Though not a lily, it’s often called sword lily for the same reason. Originally cultivated in South Africa, the gladiolus now has around 300 species, and over 10,000 cultivars.  The showy, trumpet-shaped flowers bloom in mid-to-late summer in a brilliant array of purple, pink, red, orange, yellow, and white hues. Gladiolus’ height and column of blooms make it a favorite in bouquets.

Gladiolus Symbolism

Along with being one of the August birth flowers, the gladiolus is also the traditional flower for 40th anniversaries, and represents faithfulness and infatuation. In floriography, the Victorian flower language, the gladiolus was believed to pierce the heart with love, earning its modern associations with love at first sight, enchantment, and fidelity. Gladiolus also symbolizes intellect, good character, and remembrance.

Different colors of gladioli add extra layers of symbolism. Pink represents a mother’s love, perfect for moms born in August. Yellow, associated with friendship and joy, for the friend who’s always there in good times and bad. White symbolizes innocence, and purple is symbolic of beauty and good fortune. Whether you’re a wordsmith or not, a bouquet featuring gladioli can do all the talking, sending just the right sentiment to your favorite August baby!

Gladiolus Varieties

With more than 250 species, the varieties of gladiolus seem endless. A look at a few of them will give you an idea of the range of choices this showy flower offers.

  • Jester – ruffled bright yellow petals with a crimson throat, or center
  • Black Beauty – dark maroon petals with edges that look almost black
  • Pastel Mix – flowers in shades of lavender, pink, peach, yellow, and white.
  • Parrot Mix – contrasting colors on the tips and throats of the petals in a myriad of colors

Gladiolus History and Trivia

Though gladiolus flowers are now cultivated and quite popular around the world, we can thank South Africa for these regal beauties. There it’s valued for its ornamental aesthetic appeal, as it is around the world, but for another cultural contribution – food culture, in fact. In many African countries, the flowers are cooked and eaten as vegetables. 

It was ancient Rome that gave gladiolus flowers their name, deriving from gladius, or sword. They were associated with gladiators, who were presented with gladioli upon victory as a symbol of virility. It wasn’t until the 16th century that the flowers were introduced to the rest of Europe, and they gained popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries with the emergence and widespread appeal of floriography.

Secondary August Birth Flower: Poppy (Papaver)

Red poppy flowers growing in a field

The mention of poppies lights up imaginations and nostalgia, beloved in artistic and cinematic representations, cherished and protected in their natural habitats. Most often we think of red poppies, as they tend to be a favorite of creatives, but poppies actually come in orange hues, pinks from pale blush to hot pink, white, yellows, and shades of lavender and rich, deep purple. Though they don’t last as long as other cut flowers in a bouquet, and they have a chaotic, delicate appearance, the wandering stems are deceptively sturdy and the flowers add a wildly enchanting element to an August birthday bouquet.

Poppy Symbolism

Like gladioli, poppies symbolize remembrance and are a common sight around Memorial Day. In many cultures they’re strongly associated with sleep, death, resurrection, dreams, and imagination. These representations all suggest a connection to the opium poppy and its narcotic properties.

The specific color of a flower usually offers another layer of symbolism, which comes in handy when ordering birthday flowers for the person who claims they don’t have a favorite color! White poppies symbolize sympathy and condolences, making them especially meaningful in memorial arrangements. Red represents happiness, pink means non-romantic love, orange brings good health and well-being, and yellow poppies are a symbol of success.

Poppy Varieties

Poppies come in a surprising range of colors and flower types. Because of the poppy’s tendency to rely on its environment and climate in order to thrive, some of their names reflect their place of origin and most comfortable growing conditions. 

California poppies are native to the west coast, blooming  in shades of pink, orange, yellow, cream, and purple. Oriental poppies are remarkable for their enormous blooms, measuring 9 – 10 inches across, in a stunning range of colors. Opium poppies come in a dizzying variety of colors and flower shapes. One spectacular opium poppy is Drama Queen, with fringed indigo and red petals and a pale yellow-green center. 

There are so many enchanting poppy varieties and colors, but blue flowers always get our attention, and the Himalayan poppy is the perfect example of the poppy’s reputation for loyalty to its native home. You won’t see it very often away from its familiar mountains, but this true-blue poppy is worth noting for its large, papery petals, and its rarity. Himalayan poppies are notoriously hard to cultivate away from the high altitudes of the Himalayan Mountains.

Poppy History and Trivia

The poppy’s origins trace back to ancient cultures, notably Mesopotamia,  Egypt, and Greece, where the connections to sleep, death, and resurrection took root. Only one type of poppy, the Opium poppy, is used for medicinal purposes and for its  narcotic properties. The knowledge and practice of using opium for pain relief traces back to ancient Mesopotamia.

Poppies’ tendency to thrive in their natural habitat makes them a popular subject for still-life and plein air painters throughout history. Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, and countless other artists were drawn to these romantic flowers for inspiration.

Meaningful Birthday Flowers from The Bouqs

Do you have an August birthday or two to honor or celebrate this year? It’s an ideal month for birthday flower delivery, with so many ways to personalize the bouquet! We do our best at The Bouqs to keep you informed of the most current and timely flower trends and traditions, so be sure to check out September’s birth flowers if you like to plan ahead. We’ve got you covered for all birth month flowers, which sounds like a great reason to check out our money-saving subscription options! We’ll give you maximum flexibility with minimum effort, and you’ll have the confidence of sending a personalized bouquet of the freshest, longest-lasting flowers, sustainably sourced and delivered by The Bouqs for each month’s most important occasions!

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