Orchids The Meanings That Led to Multiple Explorations

Orchids: The Meanings That Led to Multiple Explorations

Did you know that there was a time when people used to go on explorations just to get orchids?

In the 19th century, England was taken by the Orchidelirium, and almost every wealthy man was sending out explorers around the world to find rare orchids. This event led to the death of some explorers because of how many people were fighting for them!

In this article, we’ll explore the fascination of the rich over the orchid flowers and more. We’ll discover these flowers’ symbolisms, cultural significance, and uses to understand what’s so special about them.

How did the orchid flower get its name?

How did the orchid flower get its name

The name orchid was derived from the ancient Greek word orkhis, which means “testicle.” The name was given to these plants because the shape of their underground tuberous roots resembles testicles.

The naming of orchids in this manner is a classic example of how, in ancient times, plants were often named based on their physical characteristics or perceived resemblances. 

While the origin of the name might sound unusual to modern ears, it is a historical reference that has endured through the centuries. In fact, ancient Greeks believed that the flowers have aphrodisiac properties because of their name.

What is the botanical origin of the orchid flower?

What is the botanical origin of the orchid flower

Orchids belong to the Orchidaceae family, which contains over 20,000 species, making it one of the largest plant families in the world. 

They are believed to have originated from South and Central America and are believed to have been around since the Jurassic Period.

Orchids Care Guide

Where do orchid flowers grow? 

Orchids are a highly adaptable and diverse group of plants, so they can be found growing almost everywhere in the world. However, most of its species grow in the tropical and subtropical regions of various countries.

The only continent you won’t find orchids is Antarctica. The continent’s climate is too extreme for orchids to grow in.

Do orchid flowers require maintenance?

Orchid flowers are quite well-known in the gardening world as high-maintenance flowers. They’re very sensitive to temperature and humidity changes, so moving them from one room to another can be tricky.

They can’t tolerate low humidity, so it’s best to put them near a humidifier. It’s also best to wait for the soil to dry before watering them.

If the orchids get stressed, their leaves may turn yellow, which can lead to a bigger problem. That said, once you get the hang of it, growing them won’t be as challenging as some make it out to be.

Do orchid flowers need shade or sun?

Orchid flowers need at least 6 to 8 hours of bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. They should only be exposed to direct sunlight for 4 hours, as the heat can burn their leaves.

When do orchid flowers bloom? 

Orchid flowers typically bloom at the start of spring and last for several weeks. They mostly bloom once a year, but some species may bloom multiple times, like Vanda orchids.

What kind of soil do orchid flowers prefer?

Most orchid flowers prefer chunky soil that’s well-draining and has good aeration, as it’s similar to their natural growing conditions. They also like slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.

As such, you should avoid using clay, as it can get compacted over time. Instead, you can use a mix of bark, perlite, and peat moss.

When is the best time to plant orchid flowers?

The best time to plant orchid flowers is during spring or summer. Around these seasons, the weather is warmer and more humid, giving the roots the opportunity to establish themselves before frost comes.

What do orchid flowers mean?

What do orchid flowers mean

Orchid flowers are often associated with meanings like beauty, elegance, uniqueness, luxury, wealth, and tender care. 

They are also sometimes used to symbolize lust, sex, and fertility due to their name and the old belief that they’re aphrodisiacs.

They’re tied to a wide range of symbolism, as they’re grown almost all over the world. Their meaning may change depending on the flower’s color or the recipient’s culture, so it’s best to consider these factors when gifting orchids.

What do the colors of orchid flowers mean?

What do the colors of orchid flowers mean
WhiteWhite orchids symbolize purity, innocence, and beauty. It’s also often used to represent the elegance of an educated person.

Recommended Use: You can use white orchids for your bridal bouquet or for the flower crowns of your flower girls.

YellowYellow orchids—because of their bright color—symbolize happiness and warmth.

Recommended Use: Yellow orchids make great gifts for friends celebrating their birthdays.

OrangeOrange orchids symbolize enthusiasm, bravery, creativity, and excitement.

Recommended Use: Orange orchids are the perfect gift for friends or relatives who have just started a new job. They can express your excitement for their new venture and admiration for their courage to try new things.

RedLike most red flowers, red orchids represent love, passion, and desire.

Recommended Use: If you have a wife who loves flowers and plants, bring a pot of red orchids for them on a random day or on your anniversary. This can make them feel giddy and loved.

PinkPink orchids symbolize gracefulness and femininity. They’re also sometimes given to express one’s admiration.

Recommended Use: Pink orchids would make a great gift for your mother or grandmother, so make sure to bring one when you visit.

PurplePurple orchids are often used to represent nobility, respect, and dignity.

Recommended Use: You can give purple orchids to your boss to help them make their office a much better place to work.

BlueBlue orchids are quite uncommon, so they’re often associated with uniqueness and rarity. They’re also used to symbolize serenity.

Recommended Use: Put a pot of blue orchids in your living room to lighten up the space and make it feel more cozy.

GreenGreen orchids are referred to as symbols of good fortune, luck, good health, and longevity.

Recommended Use: Gift a bouquet or basket of green orchids to a friend or relative who’s in the hospital.

What did the orchid symbolize in various historical periods?

What did the orchid symbolize in various historical periods
Ancient GreeceIn Ancient Greece, they believed that orchids were symbols of fertility and virility.

The flowers’ roots look very similar to testicles, which led them to believe that they contain properties that can help increase men’s sex drive.

Another belief during this period was that if men ate a large orchid before getting intimate with their wives, their baby would be a boy. However, if it’s the wife who ate an orchid, the baby would be a girl.

Aztec CivilizationThe Aztecs are believed to have made potions using vanilla orchids and chocolate. They believed that orchids have properties that could make them stronger and more powerful.

Although there’s no evidence that supports this claim in modern medicine, the Aztecs did end up becoming the most powerful empire in Mesoamerica.

They also used orchids to cure fatigue, nausea, and more.

Due to these assumed medicinal uses, the flower symbolized power and strength among Aztecs.

Victorian EraDuring the Victorian era, there was a widespread fascination and obsession with orchids among the upper class and elite. This obsession is widely known worldwide as the Orchidelirium.

Orchids were considered exotic and rare, so collecting and cultivating them became a hobby among the wealthy.

The wealthiest people around the time even sent out explorers to different parts of the world to look for rare species of orchids and bring them back to England.

During these trips, many explorers died for various reasons, including battles with other explorers searching for orchids. Some managed to return to England alive but were unsuccessful at bringing orchids due to the flower’s sensitive nature.

Orchids who managed to survive the trip were often auctioned or showcased.

Charles Darwin’s Fertilisation of Orchids played a significant role in fueling the Victorian orchid craze. His research about its unusual pollination added to the flower’s mystique, capturing the interest of the nobles.

As they were mainly enjoyed by the rich, the flowers were seen as symbols of refinement, wealth, beauty, and exclusivity.

Ancient ChinaIn Ancient China, orchids were revered for their beautiful appearance and medicinal properties.

The flowers were seen as symbols of wealth and refinement.

They were also widely used as medicinal herbs to treat lung, kidney, and stomach diseases.

What are the cultural associations of the orchid flower?

What are the cultural associations of the orchid flower
JapanIn Japanese culture, it’s believed that putting an orchid in your house or office will bring you wealth, luck, and fertility.

This is because the flowers are considered symbols of power, strength, luxury, and fertility in Japan.

These symbolisms came about because of the Japanese royalties’ love for orchids. Their fragrance and beauty used to adorn the palace and residence of various noblemen.

Another symbolism closely tied to orchids in Japanese culture is bravery. Samurai used to grow these flowers, so the symbolism stuck until today.

ThailandOrchids are considered the queen of flowers among Thai people. They regard the flowers as symbols of beauty and luxury.

Moreover, the flower is often used to congratulate a friend, to show support for someone’s endeavors, and to express gratitude.

PhilippinesIn some regions in the Philippines, orchids are widely believed to have magical powers that protect the forests.

The waling-waling species, in particular, is considered a deity or diwata and is worshiped by the Bagobo tribe of Southern Mindanao.

What are the spiritual or religious meanings of the orchid flower?

What are the spiritual or religious meanings of the orchid flower
ChristianityOrchids, especially the dove species, are often associated with the Holy Trinity. It’s believed that it’s the symbol of the Holy Spirit, so it’s widely used in altars.

Some Christians also see the dove orchid flower as symbolizing hope. This is because they believe that it’s the floral embodiment of the white dove that appeared in the Great Flood.

Christians also believe that the spots in some orchids come from Christ’s blood. This is why they’re often used as decorations during mass and Easter celebrations.

IslamMany Muslims believe that you’ll find orchids in heaven. Hence, the flower is often regarded as a symbol of paradise.

This is also why you’ll find several Islamic artworks that feature the flower. These images aim to show the beauty of heaven.

BuddhismIn Buddhism, orchids symbolize purity, enlightenment, patience, and perseverance.

The flowers are known to be quite challenging to take care of, so Buddhists believe that to grow one, you should persevere and become patient.

What are the uses of the orchid flower?

What are the uses of the orchid flower

Orchid flowers are popularly used as ornamentals for homes or as gifts to loved ones. However, these flowers offer more and can be used in cooking and medicine too.

How can orchid flowers be used in cooking?

How can orchid flowers be used in cooking

Orchid flowers are edible and can be incorporated into various dishes. They can serve as main ingredients for salads and drinks, or use them as edible garnishes for dishes.

The flowers are mostly used in vanilla cakes and cupcakes as decorations. Some bartenders also use them to add an elegant touch to their cocktails.

Can orchid flowers be used in medicine?

Can orchid flowers be used in medicine

Orchids have long been used in traditional medicine in some cultures for various purposes. They were used to treat cough, lung issues, kidney diseases, stomach aches, hysteria, impotence, and wounds.

In traditional Chinese medicine, orchids are often used as primary ingredients for teas that can help relieve cough, lung, and kidney diseases. Some also believe drinking tea made of orchids can improve one’s eyesight.

It’s also used by neighboring East Asian countries like Japan and Korea in treating illnesses related to the stomach, like indigestion.

Aside from Asia, they were also popular medicinal herbs in the West. Americans and Greeks used to believe that the flowers have aphrodisiac properties, so they were used to treat impotence.

Today, various medical professionals have found that orchids can help treat prostate cancer. Research about this is still ongoing, and they are yet to discover how effective the flowers are.

It’s worth noting that although the flower has a long history of medicinal use, its safety and efficacy are subject to doubts, and consulting a medical professional is highly encouraged.

How can orchid flowers be used in gardening?

How can orchid flowers be used in gardening

Orchid flowers are highly regarded for their ornamental value, so there are many ways you can incorporate them into your garden. They make great options for garden beds, or you can grow them in pots and hanging baskets.

The flowers come in a wide variety of colors and species, so there are hundreds of ways that you can use them to add a splash of color and a sense of elegance to your home.

Orchids also make great houseplants, so you can bring their beauty to your kitchen, living room, study area, and bedroom.

There are thousands of orchid species, each with its own care requirements. Do in-depth research about the species you want to know how to incorporate it into your garden.

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