Although most flowering plants are highly valued for their attractive fresh blooms, a few have gained popularity for other purposes. One example is the Honesty Flowers. While it’s true that Honesty Flowers plants present a showy display of blooms during their flowering period, these ornamentals gain more appreciation for dried flower arrangements because of their distinctive flat and rounded seed pods that resemble silver coins or, for others, a full moon. Follow this guide to learn more about Honesty Flowers, their origin, popular varieties, colors, meaning and symbolism, planting and care tips, and more.
Honesty Flowers: The Essentials:
|Common Names:||Moonwort, Dollar Plant, Silver Dollar, Honesty, Money Plant, and Lunaria.|
|Family:||Brassicaceae (Cabbage and Mustard Family)|
|Native Range:||Southeastern Europe and Western Asia|
|Flowering Season:||Late spring to early summer|
|Botanical Characteristics:||Annual or biennial herbaceous plant with heart-shaped leaves and fragrant, four-petaled flowers that produce flat, silvery-white seed pods.|
|Colors:||The flowers of Lunaria annua are typically purple but can also be white or pink. The seed pods are silvery-white.|
|Mature Height:||Up to 90 cm (3 feet) tall|
|Sunlight Requirements:||Full sun to partial shade|
|Fertilizing:||Lunaria annua is not a heavy feeder and does not require much fertilizer. If needed, a balanced, slow-release fertilizer can be applied in early spring.|
|Symbolism:||The plant is associated with honesty, money, and prosperity. It is often used in dried flower arrangements and is said to bring good luck and wealth.|
About Honesty Flowers
Honesty flower (Lunaria annua) is a fast-growing herbaceous biennial known by many other names such as Moonwort, Dollar Plant, Silver Dollar, Honesty, Money Plant, and Lunaria.
They belong to the Brassicaceae or the mustard and cabbage family and originated from Europe (central and southern parts) to Asia. Each plant typically grows up to 2 to 3 ft in height and spreads up to 1 to 2 ft when fully mature.
Though known popularly for their fruits and seed pods, these plants’ flowers are prized as much for their attractive blooms. Each raceme flower blooms in mid-late spring to early summer, showcasing four petals in pink or deep purple to white shades. The flowers are fragrant and only about <1 inch in size.
The fruits of honesty flowers typically start blooming in the mid-summer. The ripe fruit’s outer covers and the seeds fall off to show paper-thin, flat, rounded, and disc-like seed pods. The pods then become translucent over time and look similar to a full moon. However, some describe the appearance of the fruits comparable to silver coins.
The simple type, deciduous leaves, are alternate and opposite in arrangement. They are medium green in color with serrated leaf margins and heart-shaped to broad ovate with pointed tips. Leaf hairs are absent, and each leaf measures about 3 to 6 inches in length and 1 to 3 inches in width.
Stems of Lunaria annua are erect, pubescent or hairy, green to burgundy in color, and branching.
Popular Honesty Flower Varieties to Grow
Lunaria annua ‘Chedglow’
One of the most recognized types of honesty flowers is the Chedglow variety. It showcases impressive clusters of lilac blooms that fade to deep chocolate seed pods for dried flower arrangements. The leaves and stems are both dark purple.
Lunaria annua var. albiflora ‘Alba Variegata’
Another well-known type of honesty flower is the Alba Variegata variety. Unlike the Chedglow with lilac flowers, this type presents a stunning display of white blooms. The heart-shaped leaves are distinctive with their irregular, white border. This honesty flower variety is a Royal Horticulture Society’s Award of Garden Merit holder.
Lunaria annua ‘Corfu blue’
This lovely form of honesty plant is one of the best for many, though rare and hard to find. It originates in an island in Greece called Corfu and displays purple-blue papery flowers and purple-flushed stems. It starts flowering relatively earlier than other types of honesty flowers.
The Meaning & Symbolism of Honesty Flowers
The genus name Lunaria originates from the Latin word luna, which translates to “moon” or “moon-shaped”. It refers to the shape of the seed pods.
It was believed to be coined “honesty” during the 16th century. While honesty flowers are known as silver dollars or Chinese coins, particularly in the United States, it is also referred to as the money plant in South East Asia.
Because of its seed pods’ silvery coin-like appearance, these plants are called “Pope’s money” in France or “papal coins” generally in Europe. In Denmark, honesty flowers are known as the “coins of Judas” or judaspenge, referring to the popular tale of Judas Iscariot and the price he paid for betraying Jesus.
Honesty Flowers Meaning and Symbolism
The name “honesty flowers” itself is a giveaway in terms of this plant’s meaning in the language of flowers, as it represents honesty. Other meanings of the plant include sincerity and wealth or money.
In folklore, honesty flowers are used in spells to protect against monsters and to attract prosperity.
Uses and Benefits of Honesty Flowers
Honesty flowers are mainly used for dried flower arrangements. The pods, in particular, are dried and sometimes painted for decorations, arts and crafts, and other types of arrangements.
The striking and fragrant flowers of the plant attract pollinators like bees, moths, flies, and butterflies.
All plant parts are edible. Both the leaves and the flowers of honesty plants are usually added to salads or eaten raw. The seeds can be cooked and can be used as a substitute for mustard due to their pungent flavor.
One of the earliest recipes for a hallucinogenic ointment called flying ointment, which is believed to have been used in European witchcraft back in the Early Modern period, includes the Lunaria plant as part of the herbal ingredient.
How to Grow Honesty Flowers
Honesty flowers can be grown easily from seeds. It is a fast-growing plant, and once planted, it starts flowering during its second year and self-sows prolifically. Seeds sown in early summer usually flower the following spring. They can be grown in flower beds or open ground with a distance of 30cm to 60cm between plants.
When established, the plant requires minimal care and can tolerate drought. It needs partial shade, but full sun or at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily will do as well. It grows best in well-drained, fertile, and slightly alkaline soil.
Caring for Honesty Flowers
Honesty flowers are considered low-maintenance flowering plants that do not require cutting back or pruning.
There are no reported serious pests and diseases of this plant. Honesty flowers are generally pest-free. However, they can be invasive as weeds in some areas as they tend to naturalize and self-sow easily.
Since it is part of the Brassicaceae family, these plants can be susceptible to club roots, white blisters, and fungal diseases.
Creative Uses for Honesty Flowers
Aside from their uses in dried flower arrangements, these ornamentals are also used in cutting gardens and shade gardens. In fact, Lunaria is a popular cottage garden plant. It is excellent for borders, particularly in a spring woodland border plant setup.
Honesty Flower Crafts
Those who like do-it-yourself (DIY) craft projects will surely adore the versatility of the seed pods of silver dollar coins or honesty flowers. From silver dollar lamp shades to wreaths, mobile, pressed flower art, garlands, and other decorative pieces, the craft project options are limitless.
You can easily find ready-to-use dried and translucent honesty seed heads online for any craft project you have in mind. With proper care, the dried pods can last for months.
One of the most popular crafts using honesty flowers is a full arrangement of dried pods. However, they also bring additional texture to a mix of fresh floral bouquets or other dried flowers.
Honesty Flower FAQs:
What is the difference between honesty flowers and other types of flowers?
Other types of flowers are mostly used as ornamentals for gardens and as cut flowers for floral arrangements. While honesty flowers showcase a stunning bloom of purple to white blooms for similar functions, their seed pods add more value to these plants. The plant’s round, translucent, and papery disc-like seed pods are a favorite of many for dried flower arrangements and dried floral craft projects.
How long do honesty flowers bloom?
Honesty flowers start flowering during the second season after sowing. The plant usually flowers from early or mid-spring to early summer.
What is the ideal climate for growing honesty flowers?
Honesty flower thrives well in areas with either full sun or partial shade. It adapts year-round in most climates, but it tends to produce more flowers in full sun. It is best to avoid planting Lunaria annua in extreme hot or cold weather conditions.
Can honesty flowers grow in containers or indoors?
Honesty plants are best grown outdoors. You can grow honesty flowers in containers or indoors during the early planting process, ideally weeks before the last frost. But, when established, transplant young but stronger Lunaria outdoors for optimum plant growth.
How often should I water my honesty flowers?
These plants are one of the easiest ornamentals to grow. Honesty flowers require regular watering during their active growth or development stages. When the plants are fully established, water only when the soil is dry at about a few centimeters below the surface. Watering should be done early in the morning or late afternoon.
When is the best time of year to plant honesty flowers?
As mentioned earlier, honesty flowers are biennials and can be sown anytime in early summer to spring.
How can I protect my honesty flowers from pests and diseases?
Like with any other plant, providing proper care and keeping honesty flowers healthy is the best way to combat pests and diseases. Maintain good soil conditions, water plants properly, and keep the planting area clean and free from weeds. Moreover, avoid unnecessary use of pesticides as the chemicals may also kill beneficiary insects that feed on insect pests.
How can I extend honesty flowers’ lifespan after being cut?
There are a few tips to prolong the lifespan of cut flowers in general, including honesty cut flowers. Place them in the water immediately after cutting to prevent wilting. Cut the stems diagonally for faster water intake. It’s also important to keep the water clean and remove any leaves below the water line to prevent bacteria from breeding.
Honesty Flowers Guide: Wrapping Up
With the attractive, one-of-a-kind seed pods being the key feature of honesty flowers, it is no doubt that this plant is like no other ornamental plant. The beautiful and fragrant flowers sure add value to gardens or floral arrangements, either fresh or dried, but the silvery coin-like seed pods are another winning feature.
Plant care and maintenance are easy as well. Planting honesty flowers won’t take much of your time and energy, but the plants will still showcase their stunning blooms especially if provided with the right growing conditions.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.
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