Orchid Flower Meaning: Exotic Beauty, Ancient History & Popularity
Orchid flower meaning around the world is love, beauty, refinement, many children, thoughtfulness, mystery and mature charm. The history of this exotic flower begins in ancient times. In the modern world, orchids are prized for their unique forms.
Once germinated the orchid plant takes 5-7 years to bloom. The orchids sold in stores tend to be at least a decade old. The plants can live up to 100 years! Another fascinating fact is the orchids have the tiniest seeds in the world. The seeds are so small they can only be seen using a microscope.
ORCHID FLOWER MEANING ARTICLE CONTENTS
This article on orchid flower meaning includes traditional meanings from China, Greece and Rome as well as information about culinary uses, orchid flower color meanings, the popularity of orchids and growing orchid flowers.
Orchid Flower Meaning in China
In traditional Chinese culture, orchids mean good taste, integrity, elegance and friendship. As a rare, tropical plant, the orchid also means wealth and fortune. Orchids can be a symbol of a married couple. in this context, orchids symbolize unity. The orchid is one of the four flowers representing each of the seasons: flowering cherry for winter, orchid for spring, bamboo for summer and chrysanthemum for fall.
Confucius, the well known Chinese philosopher, kept orchids in his room and wrote a poem praising their beauty and fragrance. In traditional Chinese medicine, the orchid was used to treat coughs and other lung ailments.
Orchid Flower Meaning in Greece and Rome
Orchids were associated with fertility in ancient Greece. If a man ate large orchid tubers, his wife would give birth to a boy. If the woman ate smaller tubers, she would give birth to a girl. The name orchid is derived from “orkhis,” a Greek word associated with male anatomy. Accordingly, orchids mean virility and sexuality. Ancient Romans also believed orchids were an aphrodisiac. As a result, they would eat the roots or steep them to make a tea
The Popularity of Orchids
Exotic orchids have inherent meaning due to their unique forms and varieties. As symbols of love, special occasions featuring orchids include weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. Orchids have become a major market throughout the world. Buyers now bid hundreds of dollars on new hybrids or improved ones. Orchids are also one of the most popular cut flowers on the market.
There are nearly 25,000 types of orchids. This makes them the largest family of flowering plants. They grow in nearly every climate on earth save deserts and glaciers. Accordingly, they are found on every continent except Antarctica. There are hundreds of societies and clubs worldwide dedicated to the study and cultivation or orchids.
Orchid Flower Meaning in History
Orchids are one of the oldest families of flowers. An fossil of orchid pollen on the back of a bee was discovered that dated to 80 million years ago. The first mention of orchids in text comes from “Inquiry into Plants” by Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle. The book dates back to about 300 BC.
The Aztecs were known to drink a chocolate mixture flavored with vanilla orchid flowers to give them strength. In Turkey, orchids were used to make a beverage called salep. The traditional drink was used to treat digestive issues and gum disease.
Growing Orchid Flowers
When gardening orchid flowers, important points to remember are that orchids can grow in cool, intermediate and warm climates. They generally do not prefer excessive direct sunlight.
Many types of orchids can be grown in pots as well—just be sure they get enough moisture as the soil in the pots can tend to dry out faster than the soil in gardens.
Fertilizer can assist orchids, but they do not require full strength with most brands. For indoor plants, a plate or saucer under the plant with a little water will help to humidify the air around the orchid.Also, make sure that the temperature in your home does not drop too much at night for warm-loving orchids.
The grass orchid is a delicate orchid with a gentle fragrance. The grass orchid usually grows in wild places largely untouched by man. The grass orchid is a favorite flower in oriental brush painting.
Because they are so prized and sought after, as well as due to environmental factors, many species of wild orchids are now endangered. Half of North Americas nearly 200 orchid species are endangered.
Do Vanilla Beans Come from Orchids?
The vanilla bean comes from a species of orchid, the vanilla orchid. It is the only species of orchid that produces an edible fruit. Although you could grow an orchid from a vanilla bean, they are usually grown from cuttings. This is a more reliable method.
Vanilla orchids thrive in a high-humidity environment. Orchids that do well still take about four years before they bloom and produce vanilla beans. The expense of vanilla extract is understandable! Vanilla orchids can be grown at home though they may be difficult to maintain.
Orchid Flower Meaning by Color
Orchids can be found in a wide variety of colors and as multicolored blooms. Each color has its own significance. Note that many of the “blue” orchids sold in stores are actually white orchids that have been dyed blue. However there are a few rare species of orchid that are naturally blue.
Pink Orchids: Pink orchids mean grace, femininity, and friendship.
Red Orchids: Red orchids symbolize romance and passion.
Orange Orchids: Orange orchids represent strength and pride.
Purple Orchids: Purple orchids symbolize royalty and honor.
Green Orchids: Green orchids mean good health and fortune.
Yellow Orchids: Yellow orchids symbolize vitality and new life.
White Orchids: White orchids symbolize purity, hope, refinement and innocence.
Blue Orchids: Blue orchids symbolize luxury and rarity.
Author 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.
Flower 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 Flower Art.
ORCHID FLOWER MEANING SUMMARY
Orchids are among the most exotic and beautiful flowers in the world. Orchid flower meaning varies to some degree from cultures to culture. This article covers the ancient and modern history of orchids, orchid flower meaning by color, orchids and vanilla beans, growing orchids and orchid flower meaning in the modern world.
Share with a flower lover today!