20 plant idioms that will make your writing grow

  • Turn over a new leaf with these exciting phrases using trees and flowers
  • Make sure to stop and smell the roses once in a while!
Yanni Chow |

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Definitely barking up the wrong tree; that one only has one cat. Photo: Shutterstock

It’s finally spring, and the flowers are blooming and everything is turning green. Kick off the season with these 20 phrases about plants and flowers, which will help you make sure your writing is fresh as a daisy.

Colour idioms to make people green with envy

Barking up the wrong tree

Meaning: To pursue a mistaken or misguided thought or action.

Example: My classmate was barking up the wrong tree when he asked me to help him cheat on the exam.

Turn over a new leaf

Meaning: To act or behave in a better or more responsible way.

Example: Tommy is pleased to have finally turned over a new leaf and is looking forward to his new job.

Beat around the bush

Meaning: Discuss a matter without coming to the point.

Example: This is a serious issue, please stop beating around the bush and address the problem.

It’s a waste of time, honestly. Photo: Shutterstock

Can’t see the wood for the trees (in the US: can’t see the forest for the trees)

Meaning: To fail to grasp the main issue because of over-attention to details, or because you are too involved in it.

Example: Marcus is so focused on product details that he can’t see the wood for the trees when it comes to the overall needs of the company.

Up a gum tree

Meaning: In a predicament.

Example: Ken was up a gum tree when flights were cancelled due to a huge blizzard and he couldn’t go home.

Take root

Meaning: Become fixed or established.

Example: Time is needed for democracy to take root in her country.

Get your day in the sun with these time idioms

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Meaning: Important family characteristics are usually inherited.

Example: Sarah is a kind person, just like her parents, so it seems that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

A tree is known by its fruit

Meaning: A person or group’s character or worth is determined based on their actions or results they produce.

Example: It’s all well and good for these companies to claim that they’re going to work towards protecting the environment, but a tree is known by its fruit.

Out of the woods

Meaning: Out of danger.

Example: Her doctor said Sammy is out of the woods, but she will need some rest before being discharged.

Food idioms that will spice up your writing

Wither on the vine

Meaning: To fail to come to fruition or to be gradually destroyed because of inaction.

Example: Many resources for students with learning disabilities have withered on the vine following the school board’s budget cuts.

Coming up roses

Meaning: for a situation to develop in a favourable way.

Example: Everything was coming up roses and there was nothing for Mavis to worry about in her life.

Fresh as a daisy

Meaning: Healthy and full of energy.

Example: I was in bed by 8pm and awoke fresh as a daisy this morning.

They do look mighty fresh! Photo: Shutterstock

There is no rose without a thorn

Meaning: Every desirable situation has its share of trouble or difficulty.

Example: There is no rose without a thorn when it comes to life.

Shrinking violet

Meaning: A very shy or modest person.

Example: Dorothy is no shrinking violet when it comes to expressing her views.


Meaning: A shy, awkward, or unpopular person who is often excluded.

Example: You can imagine Alfred as the wallflower at the school dance, smiling a secret smile to himself as he watches others.

Keep your head above water with these water idioms

Nip it in the bud

Meaning: To suppress, stop or destroy something at an early stage.

Example: Many serious illnesses can be nipped in the bud if they are detected early enough.

A late bloomer

Meaning: A person who displays talent, develops skills or interests, or achieves success at a relatively late stage.

Example: Mandy was a late bloomer; it wasn’t until she got to university that her talents in arts became apparent.

Smell the roses

Meaning: To enjoy or appreciate what is often ignored.

Example: It’s important to take some time once in a while to stop and smell the roses.

Always worth a moment. Photo: Shutterstock

Primrose path

Meaning: A course of action that is easy and tempting, but ultimately dangerous.

Example: If we followed your advice we’d all be walking down the primrose path to failure.

Pushing up daisies

Meaning: To be dead and buried.

Example: His smoking and drinking habits will see him pushing up daisies at a young age.

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