Flowers, plants, and other foliage can symbolize emotions, actions, or ideas. Each plant has been given meaning throughout the years, and surrounding yourself with plants whose symbolism you know and value can create a more meaningful environment.
Symbolism became a popular subject after the Dictionnaire du langage des fleurs by Joseph Hammer-Purgstall was published in 1809, which introduced a formalized study of plant symbolism.
With so many plants and flowers to choose from, here’s the ultimate guide to plants and their meanings to help you make the best choices for future life events.
1. Bonsai (Juniperus procumbens)
Bonsai trees symbolize calmness, wisdom, and harmony. These plants are an excellent option for someone who needs balance in their life. This hardy plant loves plenty of direct sunlight and should be watered once a week, but its leaves need regular misting so its pores don’t get clogged. Bonsai care entails pruning, a tricky process that becomes easier with practice.
2. Ficus (Ficus microcarpa)
Ficus plants symbolize abundance and peace and are an excellent gift for a new leader to symbolize success and unity. Ficus trees need indirect sunlight and should be grown in temperatures above 60°F. Water these mini trees weekly during the warmer months and once a month during winter.
3. Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena braunii)
Lucky bamboo symbolizes good fortune and longevity, making it the perfect gift for someone entering a new chapter in their life. Ensure that the roots of your bamboo are always covered in water, and try filling the vase every 8–10 days. This plant prefers temperatures of 65–95°F and moderate to indirect sunlight.
4. Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Golden pothos symbolizes perseverance and longing, making it an excellent plant for someone who continually follows their dreams. You can gift golden pothos as a hanging arrangement to represent reaching new goals and heights. Pothos plants’ general care includes keeping them in temperatures between 55 and 90 °F and in medium indoor light. Allow your pothos soil to dry between waterings during cooler months, and keep the soil evenly moist during warmer months.
5. Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)
The money tree represents wealth and good fortune and is excellent for someone who is career-driven or starting a new job or business. Money trees do well in 65–75°F but can survive at 10°F lower or higher than their ideal range. Money trees like direct and indirect sunlight and evenly moist soil in warm months; allow the soil to dry between waterings during cold months.
6. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
Peace lilies symbolize peace and sympathy and are an excellent gift for someone who has gone through a recent loss or needs a little peace in their life. These stunning flowers do best in evenly moist soil, temperatures above 55°F, and bright light.
7. Monsteras (Monstera deliciosa)
Monstera plants symbolize honor, longevity, and respect. They’re great for someone who values their family history and background. This plant’s care involves watering it when the first couple of inches of soil are dry, keeping it in indirect sunlight, and maintaining a 68–86°F temperature range.
8. Prayer Plants (Maranta leuconeura)
Prayer plants are named after their leaves, which fold up at night like hands in prayer. This characteristic has led to the plant being associated with gratitude, devotion, and focus. In some cultures, prayer plants are also believed to bring good luck and positive energy. These plants are an excellent gift for someone who accomplished a goal, like a graduation or job promotion.
Prayer plants thrive in temperatures of 55–85°F and medium-filtered light, although they can survive in low light. Keep this plant’s soil moist but not overwatered or soggy.
9. Succulents (Xerophytes)
Succulents represent loyalty and endurance and are an excellent option for someone trustworthy and eager to help others. Succulents are low-maintenance plants that need at least six hours of sunlight and prefer temperatures above 50°F. Water succulents once a week, and make sure to keep the soil evenly moist but not soaked.
10. Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus)
Carnations represent love and femininity and are a great way to show your affection, like an anniversary or Valentine’s Day. Carnations love being watered twice weekly (depending on the soil) and should be kept in a moist base. Most carnations prefer bright indirect light.
11. Orchids (Orchidaceae)
Orchids symbolize admiration and love and are the perfect gift for someone who inspires you. This beautiful flower can survive at 60–100°F during the growing season and at 55–70°f during the off-season. Orchids’ care requirements vary depending on the variety that you get.
12. Sunflowers (Helianthus)
Sunflowers represent happiness, loyalty, and adoration. These joyful flowers are great for a warm person who brings joy to your life. Sunflowers need full sunlight and prefer 70–78°F temperatures. Because it can grow quite tall, this cheerful flower is best kept as an outdoor plant, but it can also bring color and cheer to any indoor space in bouquet form.
This originally appeared on Planet Natural.
Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.