Instead of giving flowers on Valentine's Day, birthdays or anniversaries, consider the idea of houseplant symbolism. A houseplant chosen with a special meaning in mind is a long-lasting present your loved one will cherish.
Everyone knows that red roses are a symbol of love and this is probably why they are the most popular flowers to give on Valentine's Day and other special occasions.
Way back in the day, Victorians followed the language of flowers by custom, and everyone carried around little bunches of flowers called Tussie Mussies. The idea of giving flowers with specific meanings is a fun way to show someone you care.
However, what about the meaning of plants in general, specifically houseplant symbolism? Why not give a plant instead of flowers, which will have an enduring effect and may even last for years? We all know that a Peace Lily is a symbol of sympathy but what about other occasions?
While many of these popular indoor plants have more than one meaning, this basic list will help you find a great gift for your next special occasion.
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Plants for Love
Lavender is considered a symbol of love and devotion. Tender lavenders such as French Lavender are perfect houseplants. Every time you brush up next to the foliage the sweet scent fills the air.
Primroses can be found here in Pennsylvania at the grocery store in January. They are typically only a few dollars and can come in a wide range of colors. I often buy a few, and when spring comes, I plant them in the garden. Since they are usually greenhouse-grown, their ability to come back year after year is hit or miss for me, but they certainly last a lot longer than flowers.
Mini roses are an obvious choice. These are also hardy enough to grow in the garden.
Orchids, especially Phalaenopsis, are not that difficult to grow. The blooms last a long time. Certainly longer than any cut flower, and the plant can last for years. Pick out one that has a few of the flowers still in bud.
Plants for Luck
Aloe plants are super easy to grow. If you have any houseplants there's probably a good chance that you have an aloe plant. Perfect in the kitchen for burns. In South Africa, you may find it hanging above entrances of homes for good luck.
Basil is another great plant for the kitchen. It does need a sunny window to grow, and well drained soil. During the summer a pot of basil on your front porch is said to help bring good luck into the home. Some say Holy Basil symbolizes eternal life.
Whether it's Marimo moss balls or Irish moss, having some of this in the home is said to bring wealth and prosperity.
You often find this plant with the name "Lucky Bamboo Plant." In Chinese culture, the more stalks the plant has, the greater the blessing or abundance. This easy to grow plant can be found at most large retailers and big box stores.
Plants for Health
According to Wikipedia, Sage or Salvia "derives from the Latin salvere --to feel well and healthy, health, and healing." Sage can be grown outdoors, and many varieties will return after a cold winter. In addition, this revered herb can also be grown on a well-lit windowsill or under grow lights in the home.
Rosemary is a tender perennial herb which means it needs to be brought indoors during the winter in cold climates. I often think of the famous quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet, "There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance." This plant known for remembrance is also a symbol of positive energy, good health, and longevity.
Lemon trees are considered a symbol of longevity and are wonderful plants to grow in the home. I have a dwarf Meyer Lemon tree and it bears wonderful fruit every year.
Sansevieria aka Snake Plant or Mother-in-law plant is one of the best plants for purifying the air due to its thick long leaves. It requires very little water and thrives in low light, making this a perfect plant for anyone.
Plants for Happiness
Lemon balm is an easy herb to grow indoors or out. A relative of the mint family, the leaves are often made into a tea which has been said to alleviate anxiety and lift your mood.
The cyclamen plant is a pretty flowering houseplant. It can be a little finicky to grow, but once you have it established it will reward you with beautiful flowers and pretty foliage. Said to raise feelings of self-esteem and happiness, cyclamen would be a wonderful gift to receive. It's also considered the plant of friendship long-lasting and sincere affection.
This last herb is a type of oregano and is great for cooking. Known as the herb for happiness, it can be grown indoors with good light and well draining soil conditions. Many state that marjoram comes from a Greek word that translates to "Joy of the Mountain." Sounds pretty happy to me.
The bright yellow color of daffodils in the springtime makes everyone happy. They are so easy to grow and deer leave them alone. A pretty pot of daffodils is said to "ensure happiness." Once the flowers fade the bulbs can be planted in the garden for next year.
Relating a meaning or symbol for a houseplant is a fun way to show someone that you care. This houseplant symbolism list shows some that have more than one meaning or purpose, but the proverbial quote holds true, "it's the thought that counts."
If your recipient is new to house plants let them know a good rule of thumb is to keep the plant in indirect light (not bright light) and make sure that they don't get too much water.
I need a cyclamen or just want.... I love that plant and use to have one all the time before kids. That was a long time ago....
I grew up in WA. where I learned to garden and where they can have miserable winters...... My grandma planted her rosemary up against the shed underneath a grape vine. It was such a weird space but it stayed protected through all types of weather and still got the sunlight it needed. This plant got so big it became more of a large bush with a thick woody base. It was always the go to herb when we cooked together and she used it as a garnish when wrapping holiday gifts.
It's probably my favorite because if you can keep it growing year round without bringing it indoors the "Healthy" side really shines bright. I took a cutting, propagated it from my base plant at the farm. It's doing great, transplanted it into a raised bed and it survived through our short winter which was colder than normal.
Excited to see how it does in this clay soil through the rest of the year. This was a fun post... enjoyed!
Great stories Carole. Thank you for sharing. Though I'm firmly planted in PA I am envious of those of you who have a short winter, making for a much longer growing season. Glad you found this post fun. That was truly my intention.