Plant Symbolism and Spiritual Meanings of Popular Houseplants
Plants talk. No, really – not just through plant symbolism and different cultural meanings, but they literally communicate through chemical secretions and physical signals.
And as if technology couldn’t get any crazier, now there’s a machine that plays music created by your houseplants.
Seriously. Just by attaching electrodes to the leaves of the plant.
Although we cannot communicate directly with plants yet, humans have still found ways to use plants as a means of communication. Apart from their use as medicine in folk cultures and traditions, plants have also been used as symbols for years. The Victorians even used a “Flower Language” or “Flower Language Dictionary” to communicate with each other via coded flowers representing different emotions and messages.
Plant symbolism and spiritual meanings
1. Chlorophytum comosum (spider plant)
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Meaning of the spider plant: fertility, good energy and prosperity
Spider plants are believed to remove negative energies from your home. In some beliefs they also symbolize fertility if you keep them in the bedroom while hanging one in the kitchen is believed to bring you prosperity.
Because they’re also well known for their air-purifying abilities, spider plants are a great gift to give to someone moving into a new home or moving.
2. Dracaena braunii (Lucky Bamboo)
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Lucky Bamboo means: good fortune, health, happiness and strength
Lucky Bamboo lives up to its name! The universal symbolism of this plant is good fortune, happiness, health and strength.
Bamboo also plays an important role in Chinese history, symbolizing virtue and elegance.
If you know someone who needs an extra pinch of luck or is perhaps starting a new chapter in their life, consider the Lucky Bamboo plant as a housewarming gift!
3. Dracaena deremensis (Dracaena Lemon Lime)
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Dracaena Lemon Lime means: cleanser and purifier
The word dracaena comes from the ancient Greek word “drakaina”, or female dragon. These plants were named after their red stems, reminiscent of “dragon’s blood”.
Since dracaenas occur in both tree and shrub form, dracaena tree resin is used as an energy cleansing incense before and after spiritual ceremonies.
Lemon Lime plants are great for those who don’t want high maintenance, as they are one of the easiest houseplants to care for.
4. Dracaena trifasciata (snake plant)
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Meaning of Snake Plant: good health, cleanliness and positivity
This plant reminds us of all the ways nature can bestow good health. It symbolizes cleanliness and positive energy, both in the sense of Feng Shui as well as its literal purifying abilities.
Snake plants can be gifted in any circumstance due to their links to overall good health, positivity, and low-maintenance care.
5. Epipremnum aureum (devil’s ivy)
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Meaning of devil’s ivy: perseverance, wealth, good fortune and eternity
Don’t let the name scare you away! Devil’s ivy often symbolizes perseverance, wealth and good fortune. Ivy plants also symbolize eternal life and the eternal nature of the soul by pagans and Christians alike, as they remain eternally green.
Consider getting one for anyone chasing their dreams to remind them to keep moving forward!
6. Maranta leuconeura (prayer plant)
Prayer plant meaning: Gratitude, reflection
This sweet-sounding plant seems to “pray” – its leaves actually curl up at night! Besides being a popular houseplant, prayer plants are also renowned for their exceptional medicinal properties (think anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial, all products).
This plant prompts us to implement more gratitude in our lives, whether through prayer or silent reflection.
They make the perfect thank you gift for all the special people in your life!
7. Monstera Deliciosa (Swiss cheese factory)
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Meaning of the Swiss cheese dairy: longevity, respect, honor
As disappointing as it is to learn that it has nothing to do with real cheese, the Monstera Plant is still a favorite among plant lovers!
According to Chinese symbolism, it represents long life and the act of honoring elders and respected personalities. These can make thoughtful gifts for grandparents or anyone you might admire.
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8. Phalaenopsis blume (butterfly orchid)
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Meaning of the moth orchid: love, beauty and luxury
Oh the orchid! This popular plant symbolizes love, beauty and luxury.
In ancient Greece, it even represented virility and was usually exchanged between couples in hopes of deciding the gender of their unborn child. Eating large roots of tuberous orchids were thought to produce sons, while eating smaller ones was thought to bring daughters.
Orchids can be a gesture for newly married couples or those looking to start a family. Plus, you can gift them to the apple of your eye to show how much you love them.
9. Philodendron hederaceum (Heart-leaved Philodendron)
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Heartleaf Philodendron means: abundance, love and good health.
Named for the shape of its leaves, the Heartleaf Philodendron symbolizes love, but not in the traditional sense. On the contrary, it is symbolic of love for nature and growth. It also represents abundance and good health.
Because this plant can survive a long time without water, it also teaches forgiveness and adaptation.
Like dracaenas, this houseplant is ideal for those who forget to pay attention to their plants. It’s also the perfect “olive branch” to give to someone you might ask for forgiveness.
10. Pilea peperomiodes (Chinese money plant)
Chinese Money Plant Meaning: Wealth and Good Fortune
If this plant had a theme song, it would be ABBA’s “Money, Money, Money.”
Native to southwestern China, this plant is believed to bestow great wealth and fortune on its owner, largely because of its round, “coin-like” leaves. The Chinese Money Plant can help ease your worries about your finances and help you find new ideas for generating income.
If there’s anyone you know who needs the money, consider dropping that bad boy off!
11. Ravenea rivularis (Majesty Palm)
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Majesty Palm Meaning: Peace and Abundance
Palm trees are revered in many cultures as they are commonly associated with religion. In the Bible, the people of Jerusalem are said to have welcomed Jesus with palm fronds a week before his crucifixion (think Palm Sunday). In Judaism, palm trees represent peace and abundance, while the ancient Egyptians considered them a tree of life.
Potted palms make thoughtful gifts for anyone looking to reconnect with their religion.
12. Spathiphyllum (peace lily)
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Peace Lily means: peace, purity, positivity and enlightenment
These flowers are associated with Buddhist, Hindu and Japanese cultures as they are used to represent enlightenment and purity. Feng shui experts generally recommend peace lilies because they are believed to bring peace, purity, and positive energy to a space.
The Peace Lily would be a great gift for someone looking to cultivate a little more wisdom and tranquility in their life.
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Yona Dervishi is a writer currently working at YourTango as a writing intern. She covers topics relating to self-care, radical acceptance, news and entertainment.