This post is part of a 12-month series exploring birth flowers. Start here for an introduction and for a full list of all months.
January represents a do-over for a lot of people, a time to make resolutions, a time for reflection and self-improvement, and a recommitment to goals and ideals.
If your birthday falls in January, your gemstone is garnet, your zodiac sign (depending on whether you were born early or late in the month) is either Capricorn or Aquarius, and your flower is one (or two!) of the very few that thrive in winter conditions.
Just when you’re ready for a new start, so are your birthday flowers!
January Birth Month Flower: The Carnation
One of two birthday flowers that brighten up this first month of the year, carnations often symbolize love and admiration, though different shades have different shades of meaning – red for love, white for innocence, and pink for affection and motherly love. Your flower has a dark side, too, with yellow symbolizing rejection and purple for fickleness! It’s a flower as multicolored and faceted as you are.
If you’re lucky enough to share a month with this flower, you’re said to be genuine, loyal and dependable. Anyone would be glad to count you among their friends, as you would go to great lengths for the sake of love. Your commitment to friends and family is unmatched, and your caring personality stands out just as this beauty does in any garden.
The Carnation Through History
Did you know that carnations are native to the Mediterranean? They grew in the ancient wilds of Greece primarily in shades of pink and peach, but these days you can find them in every color of the rainbow, including striped and variegated varieties.
Carnations are considered one of the “ancient” flowers, classified as dianthus by the Greek botanist Theophrastus.
Carnations have been a cultural staple for hundreds of years. They were used in garlands and as décor in both ancient Greece and Roman times. They were used to treat fever in Europe. During Elizabethan times they were used to flavor wine as a substitute for more expensive spices like clove.
To this day you can extract essential oils from carnations, to use in perfumes and aromatherapy.
Like many flowers, they can also be found in mythology and religion. The first mention of carnations dates back to the Greek myth of Artemis, who killed a shepherd whose flute playing scared away game in her hunting ground. She later regretted her action and appealed to her father, Zeus, who turned the body into a flower.
In a Christian story, carnations grew in the spot where Mary’s tears fell during the crucifixion of Jesus.
Nowadays, carnations are prevalent in many celebrations. You can see green carnations peeking from buttonholes on St. Patrick’s Day, pink and red carnations in flower arrangements for Mother’s Day, and red-white-and-blue carnations adorning yards during the month of July.
Carnations have a history spanning nearly 2,000 years, some of which is still hotly debated! But however you look at it, this flower brings a special charm and long-lasting joy to any setting.
Want To Plant Them?
Carnations are one of the few flowers that can bloom during winter months as long as the temperature is above freezing. If you’d like to try your hand at growing them, they prefer cooler temperatures, moist soil, and bright sun.
Smaller varieties make great border plants, while some varieties can grow up to three feet in height.
Few flowers are as iconic in bouquets as the carnation, in part because they have an incredibly long bloom life after they are cut. Miniature varieties are best if you’re planning a career as a florist or putting together a wedding bouquet.
Bonus Flower: The Snowdrop
Snowdrops are also considered a January birth month flower, and are one of the earliest bloomers you can hope to see in your New Jersey garden. They’re prefect in a woodland setting or anywhere you have rich, well-drained soil.
If you’re looking for signs of life this winter, snowdrops make a great garden addition. They sleep during summer but burst into gorgeous bell-shaped flowers that dangle like pearls at the ends of elegant stems through colder months. During milder winters, you can see these beauties spring up each January.
During happy times, snowdrops symbolize hope, rebirth, and optimism, but during times of misfortune or following a death, they can symbolize compassion and sympathy.
If you choose this flower as your emblem, it can signify transformation and a commitment to overcoming obstacles. That makes them a pretty good choice for a New Year flower!
What did you think of January’s birth flowers? Did you see hints of yourself, or of friends or family in any of their history and lore? Whether you’re ready to adopt one as your personal insignia or you’re just intrigued by their beauty and winter growing habits, let us know. We’d love to talk to you about bringing winter charm and an interesting story or two to your yard!
More In This Series
Stay tuned for a new flower each month throughout the year!