Your Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Ivy Flower Symbolism

The ivy plant’s glossy leaves and flowers appear throughout history, climbing through the myths of ancient Greece and the divine tales of the Druids and up the walls of the world’s most exclusive educational institutions. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about ivy flower meaning and symbolism, their rich history and origins, and cultural significance in the language of flowers.

Ultimate Guide to Ivy Flower Meaning, Types, and Uses

Ivy Flowers Symbolism – Key Takeaways

Ivy flower meaning in the language of flowers, has a long-held symbolic association with fidelity, marriage, and friendship. The Greek god Dionysus and the Roman god Bacchus held ivy’s flowers and deep green leaves as sacred. To the Druids, ivy plants symbolized female divinity. Today, these quick-growing vines adorn the walls of institutes of higher learning, providing them with an instantly recognizable symbolic moniker.

Etymological Meaning

The Latin term Hedera comes from the Greek for “to get” or “to grasp.” In translation, Hedera loosely means “the clinging plant.”

CoIvy Flower Colors and Their Meaning

A close up shot of green ivy plant in bloom

Hedera plants produce white, green, or yellow flowers. In the language of flowers, ivy flowers hold the symbolic meaning of fidelity, marriage, and friendship.

The Cultural Significance of Ivy Flowers

To the Ancient Greeks and Romans, ivy was a sign of divinity. Dionysus — the Greek god of wine (known as Bacchus to the Romans) — wove ivy leaves into his wreath. The Greeks believed that wearing ivy leaves on the forehead would prevent inebriation.

To the Druids, ivy plants symbolized female divinity. Later, Christianity morphed this belief into a symbol of the Virgin Mary, as in the British Christmas carol “Holly and the Ivy.”

Ivy’s clinging habits and long-lasting foliage that stayed green through the cold winters led medieval Europeans to use the plant as a symbol of fidelity in marriage. It was often gifted to newlyweds and newborn babies.

To early Christians, evergreen ivy also symbolized the eternal life of the soul. This connection can be seen in paintings such as Lorenzo Lotto’s Venus and Cupid.

During the Romantic era of the late 1700s and early 1800s, artists often depicted gothic ruins covered with clinging ivy. Examples include Visitor to a Moonlit Churchyard and Netley Abbey by Moonlight.

In the U.S., the eight exclusive universities known as the “Ivy League” are thought to be named for the vines growing up their storied walls. Many poems and novels use the term, such as Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

Suitable Gifting Occasions

A potted ivy plant sitting on a table

Ivy symbolizes fidelity, making it appropriate for wedding or anniversary floral gifts. It also symbolizes the staying power of love and friendship, so it can be used in arrangements and bouquets for friends and loved ones.

Ivy Flower FAQs: 

What does the Ivy symbolize?

In the language of flowers, ivy has a long-held symbolic association with fidelity, marriage, and friendship.

Is it unlucky to have ivy in the house?

In times past, ivy brought indoors was considered an omen of impending bad fortune. In practical terms, Ivy is considered an excellent air-purifying plant and thrives in various living environments.

Does Ivy have a flower?

All ivy plants will produce flowers once they reach a mature stage in their growth cycle. Most varieties of ivy bloom in fall or early winter.


With its shiny, attractive foliage, ivy makes a lovely addition to bouquets and arrangements. In the landscape, Hedera attracts pollinators and feeds birds in the winter, while adding year-round color and texture. Ivy’s evergreen, clinging nature makes it a natural symbol of fidelity, love, and friendship.

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