The orchid plant has a notorious reputation for being difficult to work with and terribly hard to care for.
Still, we keep trying because they are so spectacularly beautiful. We give them as gifts, we try hard to care for them when we receive them as gifts, and we give up time and time again. Yet we also come back to them over and over again.
The truth is orchids are wildly popular for a reason. They are thought to bring good luck, they hold powerful symbolism, and they are even biologically attractive to humans. It’s science!
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An Overview of the Orchid Plant
Orchids have been on earth for more than 100 million years and are considered the largest flowering plant family we know of. Their history in relation to humanity goes back about 3,000 years, to China and Japan, where they were used medicinally and for aesthetic purposes alike.
A fragrant flower that grows from trees, in bark, and in wood chips, the Orchidaceae will actually die if planted in soil. It is found in nature, typically growing from the stumps of trees and parts of other plants.
While we may struggle to grow them in our homes, they are quite adaptable in nature and can be found in virtually every environment except for frigid and arctic regions. Botanists estimate around 30,000 different species of orchids exist on earth with a wide variety of sizes and colors.
Orchids are one of the only flowers that has both male and female parts in the flower itself, with the column housing both the anther and the stigma. Indeed, the word orchid comes from the Greek word for testicle because the root tubers appear dramatically similar in appearance to the male reproductive organ.
During the day, orchids absorb carbon dioxide, and at night they engage in respiration, releasing oxygen into the air. For this reason, many people enjoy keeping orchids in the windowsills of their bedrooms.
They also form a symbiotic relationship with a type of fungus that grows inside of it called mycorrhizae fungi. The fungus operates from within the root system to help the orchid absorb water and minerals. At the same time, the orchid feeds the fungus nutrients through photosynthesis.
Finally, the orchid naturally appeals to pollinators and humans to help them survive. Many orchids use nectar to lure pollinators to drink and therefore pollinate, and their fragrance, beauty, and medicinal qualities encourage humans to cultivate and care for them. It is no wonder they have thrived for millions of years.
What Does an Orchid Plant Symbolize?
The Greeks love their myths, so it’s no wonder the orchid takes up space in Greek mythology. Orchidaceae has been linked to satyrs, the lustful, woodland gods often depicted as drunk and often imagined with full, exaggerated erections.
This imagery comes as no surprise since the Greeks connected the orchid to the male genitalia. As a result, the orchid has long been a symbol of love, romance, sensuality, and fertility.
Indeed, the goddess of love and fertility, Aphrodite, has been associated with the orchid, and in Greek mythology, if a man ate the large root tubers of the orchid, it would ensure his child would be a boy, and if a woman at the small root tubers, her child would be a girl.
In the Aztec world, used the orchid for medicine, using parts of the plant to heal burns, soothe coughs, and help with dysentery.
In Chinese and Japanese cultures, the orchid symbolizes integrity, nobility, friendship, good fortune, and peace.
With all these meanings, giving this flower as a gift is always a good idea, no matter the occasion.
Does Giving an Orchid Plant as a Gift Have Meaning?
Giving the orchid plant as a gift can have many meanings. You can give it to a friend trying to have a child or to honor a new baby in the family.
You could give an orchid to symbolize a lasting friendship or business partnership.
Or you could give the plant to someone who has been ill as a message of speedy recovery.
The colors of the orchids also matter in terms of meaning. White orchids symbolize innocence while purple orchids represent wealth.
Yellow orchids are seen as signs of happiness and strength, whereas pink orchids stand for femininity and grace. The list goes on, so you can look at both types of symbolism when choosing an orchid as a gift.
Do Orchid Plants Help with Feng Shui?
With all of this positive, strong, yet peaceful symbolism, is it any wonder the orchid holds tremendous power in feng shui? In this Eastern tradition, the orchid represents love and partnership as well as fertility, so keeping one in the bedroom is ideal in terms of the flow of energy in your home.
You can also keep one by the front door of your home to bring happiness and strength to anyone who enters your home and lasting vitality to anyone who leaves.
Do Artificial Orchid Plants Look Real and Do They Maintain Their Symbolism?
Let’s be honest. Orchids look fake! They just seem too beautiful to be real.
So, of course, if you find keeping a real orchid alive is just too difficult, you can switch to fake orchids and fill your home with amazing, positive energy at a fraction of the energy it requires to maintain a live one.
Yes, of course, they maintain their symbolism, so yes, of course, you can invest in high-quality artificial orchids for whatever reason. After all, some people have allergies that won’t allow them to keep live plants. There is no reason those people should not still be able to reap the benefits of having orchids around.
In fact, pictures or paintings of orchids will also bring their positive vibes into your home.
And if you’re worried that keeping fake plants in your home is not trendy, check out my article on whether artificial plants and flowers are tacky.
What is your relationship to orchids? Do you love them? Hate having to care for them? Let me know in the comments.