Orchid Flower Meaning

Orchid Flower Symbolism

Orchid Flower Meaning

Ancient History and Modern Symbolism

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.

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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.

An Orchid for Every Season
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 China

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.

Origin of the Name “Orchid”
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

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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.

Types of Orchids
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 Based on Color

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.

Using Orchids in Beverages
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. 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.

Caring for Orchids
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.

Endangered Wild 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.

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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.

Growing a Vanilla Orchid
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 and Growing Orchids

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.

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Author Kathleen Karlsen

Kathleen Karlsen is a musician, artist, writer and speaker. She is the author of two books (Flower Symbols and Vocal Medicine) and over 200 articles. Kathleen, her husband Andrew, and their five children live in Bozeman, Montana. More about Kathleen Karlsen.


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.

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