Victorians’ Secrets: Tussie-Mussies and Sweetheart Flower Clocks


What are tussie-mussies? Tussie refers to a small bunch of flowers and mussie means the moss moistened to keep the flowers fresh. Tussie-mussie holders vary from paper to lace to silver.


In the nineteenth century Victorians were passionate about floriagraphy, the language of flowers, and consulted books on the subject before selecting the perfect flowers for their sentiments. Some enterprising Victorian sweethearts combined their messages with a coded floral clock to arrange and confirm the hour for rendezvous at a predetermined place.



IVY: Meet me.

PRIMROSE & IVY: I will meet you.

LAVENDER & IVY: I cannot meet you.

FIELD POPPY: Make another appointment.

CLOVER: Today.



CARNATION: Noon or midnight

RED ROSE: One o’clock

MARIGOLD: Two o’clock

VIOLET: Three o’clock

DAISY: Four o’clock

A tussie-mussie of ivy, primroses, clover, and violets would convey “Meet me today at three o’clock.” If a young lady sent back the ivy and primrose, her beloved understood her reply, “I will meet you.”

What tussie-mussie message and reply would you create?


Language of Flowers book by Kate Greenaway 1884


  1. Jillian, this is awesome! I had no idea people used to send messages this way. Thanks for posting! My tussie mussie would have ivy, clover, a daisy, a page from a book and the bouquet would be stuffed into a Starbucks cup to mean, “Meet me today at 4 for writing & coffee!” 🙂

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