Iris Flower Meaning - Royalty, Faith and the Symbolic Trinity
Iris flower meaning includes faith, wisdom, cherished friendship, hope and valor. In the Victorian language of flowers, iris flowers also mean “my compliments” and “promise in love.”
Iris Name Meaning
The name iris is derived from the Greek word for rainbow. This is due to the fact that iris flowers come in nearly 300 species that vary widely in form and color. Iris flowers bloom in every color of the rainbow as well as pure white, lavender, pink and brown. Some are multi-colored. Others have a “beard” of fuzzy hairs at the base of the petal.
Iris Meaning Table of Contents
Iris detail in Lupines & Irises Print
By Kathleen Karlsen
Iris Meaning and the Fleur-de-Lis
The fleur-de-lis, one of the most well-known of all symbols, is derived from the shape of the iris flower. Fleur-de-lis literally means “flower of the lily” (French).
Although the lily and iris are two different families of plants, this symbol is generally thought to be associated most closely with the iris. In the Middle Ages, the wild iris was referred to as “lies”, “leys” or “lis.”
The fleur-de-lis has been used extensively in heraldry, religion, the military, education, sports, logos, scouting, architecture and art. The fleur-de-lis is a symbol of the royal family in France and is the state flower of Tennessee. The iris is the emblem of both France and Florence, Italy.
The three petals of this stylized iris symbol are perfect for representing anything that comes in a set of three. For example, the fleur-de-lis is the main element in the logo of most scouting organizations.
In this context, the three petals represent the three aspects of the Scout promise: duty to God and country, helping others and keeping the Scout Law.
Iris Flower Meaning Faith, Love and Wisdom
In a broader sense, the three petals of the iris flower mean faith, love and wisdom. These are viewed as central aspects of a balanced spiritual life. Ultimately, the concept of three forces united as one is a dominant theme in many world religions.
In Buddhism, there are Three Jewels: the guru, the teachings and the community. In Hinduism there is a triad of three deities: Brahma (father), Vishnu (son) and Shiva (spirit). Likewise Christianity has a Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
The symbolic petals are sometimes colorized as yellow (wisdom), pink (love) and blue (faith). The symbol is associated with the heart or a trifold flame in the heart, often included in depictions of the Virgin Mary or Saint Joseph. Irises were used in gardens devoted to the Virgin Mary. The blade-shaped foliage denotes the sorrows which “pierced her heart.”
Other Flowers Meaning Faith
In addition to the iris, there are several other flowers meaning faith. Flowers have often been used as a symbol of true love and faithfulness in romance. The following are flowers that mean faith and fidelity in the language of flowers. Links to full articles available for selected flowers.
Iris Meaning in Dreams
Iris flowers in dreams represent both faith and perseverance. Like other flowers that grow from bulbs, they symbolize renewed life. Even during periods of dormancy, the flower is waiting to grow in the right environment and circumstances. Dreaming of an iris can be a message of positive things coming into your life: new friends, greater accomplishments, or good news.
The color of the iris flower in a dream may also be significant. Purple irises are particularly auspicious, indicating respect and royalty. Violet is related to transformation. White irises mean purity. In some European traditions, the iris is related to friendship. Dreaming of one or more irises can be related to positive social events and experiences.
Read full article on Flower Color Meaning.
Iris Flower Meaning in China
Its soft, fluttering petals remind the Chinese people of butterfly wings, flapping gently in the breeze. The flower is known as Tze Hu-tieh or “The Purple Butterfly.” Iris flowers bloom towards the beginning of the growing season. They are sometimes viewed as an embodiment of the spirit of early summer.
Growing Iris Flowers
Iris flowers are a genus with hundreds flowering varieties. Irises are grown from bulbs or rhizomes and have long, flat leaves. Irises are used widely in gardens, especially the bearded varieties. Irises are easy to cultivate and propagate.
Iris flowers do best in full sun. They should not be shaded by other, larger plants. They prefer neutral to slightly acidic soil. Iris bulbs are often planted in groups of three with the groups a couple feet apart.
Detail from Lupines & Irises Painting
By Kathleen Karlsen
More Flower Symbolism Articles
Explore the meaning of flower colors, the history of the Victorian language of flowers, the symbolic meaning of flowers in art and over a dozen articles on specific flowers on this website. Visit Flower Symbolism. More on the web: Top 15 Most Exotic Flowers Around the World. Brighten up any space with gifts and decor featuring beautiful flowers! Find posters, prints, canvases and more. See all floral art & gifts.
Click on a flower photo below for additional articles.
Floral Art & Gifts
Floral artwork and gifts on this site are based on paintings by Kathleen Karlsen. Other prints and gifts including yoga symbols, Eastern deities and more are based on illustrations by Rose Karlsen and Sammy Ater. See all ARTWORK categories and products.
Meet Kathleen Karlsen
Kathleen Karlsen is the author of the book Flower Symbols: The Language of Love. This handy reference book includes extensive flower meanings and folklore about the world’s most beloved flowers. Flower Symbols is the perfect gift for yourself or a flower lover in your life!
Kathleen is a writer, artist and musician living in Bozeman, Montana. She is the mother of five kids (teen to adult) and the author of two books. Kathleen’s other book is Vocal Medicine: Transformation through Sound. Listen to Kathleen’s MUSIC and see more of her ARTWORK.