The Symbolism and Spiritual Meanings Behind Popular Greenery

by Lisa Watters-Lain, Arizona’s garden gal

Plants communicate with us through chemical secretions and physical signals. We feel better after forest bathing in nature. Plants know we need them. While we can’t presently communicate with plants, past gardeners found ways to use plants to communicate and share. Besides their medicinal use, plants have been used as symbols for years. The Victorians used a ‘Language of Flowers’ or ‘Dictionnaire du langage des fleurs’ to communicate via coded flowers representing different emotions and messages.

Here are the most popular houseplants and their Language of Flowers, symbolism, and spiritual meanings.

Chinese Money Plant: wealth and good fortune

This plant is believed to bestow great wealth and fortune upon its owner primarily because of its round, “coin-shaped” leaves. Thought also to ease concerns surrounding finances and help you develop new ideas that generate income.

If anyone you know needs money, consider a money plant!

Devil’s Ivy: perseverance, wealth, good fortune, and eternity

Don’t let the name scare you! Pagans and Christians believe ivy plants symbolize eternal life and the nature of the soul because they remain forever green.

Consider buying one for anyone pursuing their dreams as a reminder to keep pushing forward!

Dracaena Lemon Lime: cleansing and purifying

The word dracaena comes from the Ancient Greek word ‘Drakaina,’ or female dragon. These plants were named after their red stems, reminiscent of dragon blood. Their resin is used as energy-cleansing incense before and after spiritual ceremonies.

Dracaena plants are super for those who don’t want anything high maintenance, considering they are one of the easiest houseplants to grow.

Heartleaf Philodendron: abundance, love, and good health

Symbolic of the love of nature and growth. It also represents abundance and good health. This plant survives without water for long periods for lessons in forgiveness and adaptation.

This houseplant is ideal for those who need to remember to give their plants attention. It’s also the perfect “olive branch” to give to someone from whom you might seek forgiveness.

Lucky Bamboo: good fortune, happiness, health, and strength

Bamboo also plays a prominent role in Chinese history, symbolizing virtue and elegance. Lucky Bamboo lives up to its name!

When a friend needs extra luck or is starting a new chapter in life, consider the Lucky Bamboo plant as a housewarming gift!

Majesty Palm: peace and abundance

Palm trees are revered in many cultures commonly associated with religion. The people of Jerusalem greeted Jesus with palm fronds a week before his crucifixion, on Palm Sunday. In Judaism, palms represent peace and abundance, and Ancient Egyptians saw them as a tree of life.

Potted palms make thoughtful gifts for anyone looking to reconnect with their religion.

Moth Orchid: love, beauty, and luxury

In ancient Greece, it represented virility and was usually exchanged between couples in the hopes of deciding the gender of their unborn child. Eating large tuberous orchid roots was thought to produce sons, while eating smaller ones were believed to bring daughters.

Orchids can be a gesture for newly married couples or those wanting to start a family. Offer an orchid to show how much you love them.

Peace Lily: peace, positivity, purity, and enlightenment

It is associated with Buddhist, Hindu, and Japanese cultures as this lily represents enlightenment and purity. Feng shui experts usually recommend Peace Lilies to bring peace, purity, and positive energy into a space.

The Peace Lily is ideal for those who cultivate more wisdom and tranquility.

Prayer Plant: gratitude and reflection

This gentle-sounding plant seemingly “prays” with foliage that curls up at night. Beyond being a popular houseplant, Prayer Plants are noted for their exceptional anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial medicinal values.

The perfect thank-you gift for special people in your life. The plant encourages gratitude in our lives through prayer and silent reflection.

Snake Plant: good health, cleanliness, and positivity

Representing all the ways nature grants good health. It symbolizes cleanliness and positive energy in the Feng Shui sense and its literal purification abilities.

Snake plants can be gifted under any circumstance because of their links to general good health, positivity, and low-maintenance care.

Spider Plant: fertility, good energy, and prosperity

Spider plants are thought to remove negative energy from your home. This feisty little plant drapes and reproduces naturally in your home. They symbolize fertility when in the bedroom. In the kitchen, the attract future prosperity.

Well known for their air-purifying abilities, they make the perfect gift to someone moving in or out of a new home.

Swiss Cheese Plant: longevity, respect, honor

According to Chinese symbolism, this plant represents long life and the act of honoring elders and respected figures. They make thoughtful gifts to grandparents or anyone you admire and enjoy.

Until next issue, I’ll be helping gardeners connect with plants here at Watters Garden Center.

Lisa Watters-Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 Iron Springs Road in Prescott, or contacted through her website at or