Although their delicate, symmetrical form and charming colors are indeed a head-turner, there are deeper lotus flower meanings and symbolism worth noting. In fact, lotus flowers are considered sacred in various parts of the world, particularly in Eastern culture. So what makes lotus plants unique, and why are they so popular? This guide will take you through everything you need to know about the meaning and symbolism of lotus flowers, plus learn about their ancient and modern cultural significance around the world today.
- History and Origins of Lotus Flowers
- Meanings and Symbolism of Lotus Flowers
- Different Colors of Lotus Flowers and Their Meanings
- Lotus Flower Meaning in Religion and Spirituality:
- The Lotus Flower in Art
- The Lotus Flower in Literature:
- Lotus Flower Tattoos Symbolism
- What Occasions are Lotus Flowers Commonly Gifted?
- How to Grow Lotus Flowers at Home
- Lotus Cut Flower Care Tips
- Lotus Flower Meanings FAQs:
- Lotus Flower Meaning – The Final Word
About The Lotus Flower
Lotus plants are aquatic herbaceous perennials primarily native to Australia and Southern Asia. They are part of the Nelumbonaceae botanical family. Two popular species are known, namely the Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) and the American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea). Both can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 10.
The Sacred Lotus plant, also called Indian Lotus or Angel Lotus, is known for its 8-inch showy pink to white flowers and waxy green leaves. The flowers remain open during the day and close at night for three days.
American Lotus is also called Yellow Lotus after its yellow blooms. Unlike the Sacred Lotus, the American Lotus originated from the East Coast of North America.
Both lotus species are edible. The plant’s underground stem, known as a rhizome, is commonly consumed by Asians and Native American tribes for its starch content. The leaves are used as vegetables and stamens to flavor teas. Lotus seeds are also fit for human consumption. They are eaten like nuts or dried and ground into flour. Various plant parts have medicinal properties.
History and Origins of Lotus Flowers
Fossil records show that lotus flowers have existed for millions of years. They are believed to have survived the Ice Age between 1.8 million and 10,000 years ago when many plants went extinct. Today, lotus flowers can be found globally, from Iran to Japan, India, Australia, and Russia.
Meanings and Symbolism of Lotus Flowers
Regarded by many cultures as sacred, lotus flowers give various meanings and symbolism. They are called the Flower of Life because of their association with the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Moreover, a lotus flower, particularly the pink one, is the national flower of India.
Different Colors of Lotus Flowers and Their Meanings
Lotus flowers are mainly available in six colors, including white, pink, yellow, red, blue, and purple. Like other flowers, their meanings and spiritual interpretations vary depending on their color.
White Lotus Flower Meaning:
White lotus flowers are one of the most popular colors. They signify many things, including beauty, grace, purity of mind, wealth, knowledge, fertility, and faith. Their worldwide popularity and relevance have gained them the name “Womb of the World.”
Pink Lotus Flower Meaning:
Pink lotus flowers are often associated with Buddhism as these charming blooms are said to portray Buddha’s earthly symbol. They hold various meanings depending on the state of their buds. A pink lotus plant with a closed bud represents passing through the spiritual path, while a fully-bloomed one means enlightenment.
Yellow Lotus Flower Meaning:
Lotus flowers are also available in yellow. In religion, they symbolize joy and intellectual curiosity within spiritualism. The bright blooms also reference openness and hospitality.
Red Lotus Flower Meaning:
The meaning of a red lotus flower is not much different from other popular red flowers, such as roses and carnations. These delicate blooms signify compassion, sympathy, and selfless love. They also represent heart, passion, and generosity.
Blue Lotus Flower Meaning:
Blue lotus flowers are captivating and hard to find. These flowers are about thought over emotions, referencing the mind. They symbolize wisdom, knowledge, and worldly aspirations.
Purple Lotus Flower Meaning:
Lotus flowers in purple are often associated with Buddhism. Another rare color, they primarily represent self-awakening, as well as harmony and balance between different parts of ourselves.
Lotus Flower Meaning in Religion and Spirituality:
The Meaning Of Lotus Flowers In Buddhism
Lotus flowers play a vital role in Buddhism. They generally represent spiritual awakening, purity, and faithfulness.
This belief roots in the fact that lotus flowers emerge from muddy waters. For Buddhists, that means the act of rising above despite challenges and moving towards the light of wisdom.
In Buddhism, the symbolism of a lotus flower also differs depending on its color.
For instance, a blue lotus flower symbolizes a spirit’s victory over knowledge and wisdom. White lotuses signify peace and purity, while red lotuses, much like other red flowers, mean love and compassion. Purple lotus flowers have a deeper meaning as their petals represent important teaching of Buddha called the Noble Eightfold Path.
The pink lotus flower is central to Buddhism. It is regarded as the ‘true lotus’ and the primary color of the flower.
Lotus Flower Meanings in Christianity
Lotus flowers also have profound meanings in Christianity. Generally, they represent purity and the creation of the universe. While Christians generally do not accept how material things like lotus flowers bear divine properties, the associations between sacred flowers and Jesus have been recognized.
One example is the fact that lotuses rise from the muddy water for three days before it blooms. Another is that these plants’ roots can reach up to 6 ft deep. Plus, the seeds live for a long time and can be resurrected after a period of inactivity. All of these characteristics relate to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Lotus Flower Meanings in Hinduism
The lotus flower is a famous symbol in Hinduism. In general, lotus flowers represent spiritual enlightenment, growth, purity, and birth, among many others. The flower symbolizes one’s ability to perform their duty without being influenced by any desire, pleasure, or gain.
In Hinduism, lotus flowers reference the belief that life begins in water. The Hindu tradition believes that Lord Brahma appeared from Lord Vishnu sitting on a lotus plant.
Other Hindu deities are also associated with a lotus flower, such as the Hindu goddess of learning, Goddess Saraswati, and the Hindu goddess of wealth, Goddess Lakshmi.
Lotus Flower Meanings in Ancient Egypt
In Ancient Egypt, the lotus flower is associated with rebirth and the sun. Egyptians believe that the sun and the lotus flower have one thing in common – disappearing at night and re-emerging fresh in the morning. Because of this association, the lotus flower also symbolizes creation.
Interestingly, lotus flowers also signify death in Ancient Egypt. The renowned Book of the Dead, an ancient Egyptian text commemorating the dead, includes spells that transform a person into a lotus flower.
The lotus has always been a frequent sight in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. It holds a significant place in uniting upper and lower Egypt.
Lotus Flower Meanings in Other Religions and Cultures
Lotus flowers also hold several important meanings and symbolism in other religions and cultures. For example, in Western cultures, these fascinating blooms typically represent the search for the true meaning of life. Because of their nature, they symbolize reincarnation and birth.
The meanings are different in Chinese culture since lotus flowers are perceived as a symbol of femininity and marital happiness.
That is not the case in Japan, where lotus flowers are considered spiritual and enchanting. In Japanese culture, lotus plants represent the purity of the mind and body.
The lotus is also sacred in Jainism. The blue lotus, in particular, symbolizes the 21st Jina, Neminatha.
The Lotus Flower in Art
The lotus flower has long been a popular subject in art and literature throughout history.
In art, the lotus flower is often depicted in paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects. It is often associated with beauty, purity, and spirituality.
Some popular examples of lotus flowers in the world of art include:
- In ancient Egyptian art, the lotus flower was a common motif used in paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects. It was often associated with the sun god Ra, and was used as a symbol of rebirth and regeneration.
- In Chinese art, the lotus flower has been a popular subject for centuries. It is often depicted in paintings, ceramics, and other decorative objects. The lotus flower is considered to be a symbol of purity and is often used in Buddhist art to represent enlightenment.
- In Indian art, the lotus flower is also a common motif. It is often depicted in paintings and sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses and is used as a symbol of spiritual purity and transcendence.
- In Japanese art, the lotus flower is often used in paintings, prints, and other decorative objects. It is considered to be a symbol of enlightenment and is often associated with Buddhism.
- In Western art, the lotus flower has also been a popular subject. It was particularly popular during the Art Nouveau period and was often used in decorative objects such as vases, lamps, and jewelry.
- The Water Lilies series by Claude Monet features several paintings of lotus flowers. Monet’s paintings of water lilies and lotus flowers were inspired by his own water garden at his home in Giverny, France.
- The Lotus Temple in New Delhi, India, is a famous architectural structure that is designed to resemble a blooming lotus flower. The temple is a Bahá’í House of Worship and is open to people of all faiths.
- The lotus flower is a common motif in Buddhist art and can be seen in sculptures and paintings throughout Asia. One famous example is the giant Buddha statue at the Todai-ji Temple in Nara, Japan, which is surrounded by lotus flowers.
- The Rosetta Stone, an ancient Egyptian artifact that dates back to 196 BCE, features a carving of a lotus flower at the bottom of the text. The lotus flower was a common symbol in ancient Egyptian art and religion.
- The Lotus Throne, a famous piece of furniture in the Royal Palace of Cambodia, is adorned with intricate carvings of lotus flowers. The throne was created in the 19th century and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Khmer craftsmanship.
- The “Lotus Sutra” is a Buddhist text that has been illustrated and depicted in art throughout the ages. One famous example is a set of handscrolls painted during the Kamakura period in Japan, which depict scenes from the Lotus Sutra and feature lotus flowers as a prominent motif.
- “The Lotus Blossom,” a painting by artist Martin Johnson Heade, features a close-up view of a white lotus flower. The painting is part of a series of floral still lifes that Heade created in the late 1800s.
- The “Lotus Pond” series of paintings by Chinese artist Zhang Daqian depicts lotus flowers in various stages of growth and bloom. The paintings are part of Zhang’s larger body of work, which combines traditional Chinese painting techniques with modern influences.
- The “Lotus Flower Tower” in the Cirque of the Unclimbables, Canada, is a rock tower that was named after the lotus flower due to its shape. It is a popular destination for rock climbers and adventurers.
The Lotus Flower in Literature:
In literature, the lotus flower is a common symbol used to represent rebirth, enlightenment, and perseverance. It has been referenced in poems, novels, and religious texts. Overall, the lotus flower is a powerful and versatile symbol that continues to inspire artists and writers across cultures and time periods.
Popular examples of lotus flowers in the world of literature include:
- In “The Odyssey” by Homer, the lotus flower is referenced as a powerful plant that causes those who eat it to lose all desire to leave the island they are on and return home.
- In “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse, the lotus flower is used as a symbol for the main character’s journey toward spiritual enlightenment.
- In “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the lotus flower is referenced as a symbol of rebirth and new beginnings. The garden in the story is also described as being full of lotus flowers, which represent the potential for growth and change.
- In “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the lotus flower is referenced as a symbol of beauty and purity. The character Daisy Buchanan is often associated with the lotus flower, as she is seen as beautiful and desirable but also somewhat unattainable.
- In “The Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri, the lotus flower is referenced in the 19th canto of Purgatorio, where Dante sees a group of souls who the love of God has purified. These souls are described as being surrounded by a beautiful garden full of lotus flowers.
- In “The Tale of Genji” by Murasaki Shikibu, a classic Japanese novel from the 11th century, the lotus flower is referenced as a symbol of love and devotion. In one scene, the main character Genji sends a lotus flower to his lover Murasaki as a token of his affection.
- In “The Lotus Eaters” by Tennyson, a poem inspired by the Odyssey, the lotus flower is again referenced as a powerful plant that causes those who eat it to lose all desire to leave the island.
- In “The Lotus and the Wind” by John Masters, a novel set in India during the British Raj, the lotus flower is used as a symbol of the Indian people’s resistance to colonialism. The main character, a British officer named Tom, becomes fascinated by the beauty and resilience of the lotus flower, and begins to see the Indian people in a new light.
Lotus Flower Tattoos Symbolism
A lotus flower is a common choice for tattoos related to the flower’s colors or religious associations. Nonetheless, it bears more or less similar meanings. Generally, lotus flowers in tattoos often symbolize rebirth or rising above temptations. They can also mean spiritual awakening, beauty, purity, love, or enlightenment.
What Occasions are Lotus Flowers Commonly Gifted?
Because of their unique and exciting features, lotus flowers have become a popular choice in floral arrangements for many different occasions. Nothing says Get Well Soon, Thank You, or I’m thinking about you better than beautiful, meaningful, and one-of-a-kind flowers like a lotus.
As with any other famed blooms, you can gift cut lotus flowers to anyone on any occasion. They come in various colors, too, so you have plenty of options.
Pick a lotus flower arrangement for celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, a new job or a new home, graduation, a birth or a new baby, and more. You can also use them to decorate your home or office or for events like weddings.
How to Grow Lotus Flowers at Home
Lotus is a hardy aquatic plant that makes a great addition to any space. It is easy to cultivate and care for if you provide it with the right conditions.
To help you get started with growing your lotus plant, here’s a quick-growing guide.
Planting or Potting
When planting a lotus, pick a deep pot, planter, or container to allow ample space as the plant grows. Any material will do, as long as it measures 3 to 5 ft in width, especially for cultivars that can grow at least 5 ft.
Submerge the hole-free container about 6 to 12 inches below the water’s surface. Avoid using potting soil because it will only float out of the pot. Use dense soil or clay soil instead.
Lotus is a perennial plant that needs 5 to 6 hours of sunlight per day to grow well and produce attractive flowers. Although it can tolerate some shade, it thrives best in a sunny and warm environment. When the light is not sufficient, the plant may have a hard time blooming.
Temperature and Water
Lotus plants require water temperatures between 75 to 87 degrees. Note that the flowers won’t start blooming early in the season. They often need weeks of hot weather conditions before they start flowering.
Water depth is crucial when growing lotus plants. Thus, keep your plant submerged in relatively still water, with at least 2 to 4 inches of water above the soil. For dwarf cultivars, the ideal water depth is between 2 to 12 inches. It’s best occasionally flush the water to avoid the accumulation of minerals in the water.
Whether it’s slow- or fast-release, or liquid or granules, any kind or form of fertilizers will help lotus plants grow better. But, your best option is an aquatic plant fertilizer.
Lotus plants first produce floating leaves, also known as aerial pads, and then standing leaves follow. Only fertilize in spring when the standing leaves begin to emerge.
Be careful not to overfertilize your lotus. Too much fertilizer may burn the leaves of your plant.
Lotus Cut Flower Care Tips
Lotus plants are mainly grown for their charming blooms. So, cut lotus flowers are not out of the ordinary. They only last a few hours to a day once picked, making them ideal for short-lived arrangements.
Since the flowers are not long-lasting like other cut flowers, the seed pods also make a great alternative in floral arrangements. They can be used fresh or dried.
Follow these tips to make the most of your cut lotus flowers:
- Folding the petals of an unopened lotus flower helps it hold its shape much longer.
- Hydrate your cut lotus flowers by placing them in a clean vase with clean water immediately after cutting.
- Place the cut flowers in a room with average temperatures (65 to 72 degrees F is ideal) or a fridge (55 degrees F) for 1 to 2 days to extend their life.
For more, see our in-depth guide to keeping fresh-cut flowers for longer.
Lotus Flower Meanings FAQs:
What is the meaning of a lotus flower?
Regarded by many cultures as sacred, lotus flowers give various meanings and symbolism. They are called the Flower of Life because of their association with the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
What does a lotus flower mean spiritually?
Lotus flowers play a vital role in Buddhism. They generally represent spiritual awakening, purity, and faithfulness.
What does a lotus flower tattoo symbolize?
Generally, lotus flowers in tattoos often symbolize rebirth or rising above temptations. They can also mean spiritual awakening, beauty, purity, love, or enlightenment.
Is the lotus lucky?
Lotus flowers are often considered a symbol of good luck and resilience thanks to their ability to thrive and prosper in variable growing environments.
What is the meaning of the lotus flower in Buddhism?
In Buddhism, the lotus flower represents purity, enlightenment, and detachment from worldly desires. It is often used as a symbol of the journey toward spiritual awakening.
What is the meaning of the lotus flower in Hinduism?
In Hinduism, the lotus flower is associated with creation, rebirth, and spiritual enlightenment. It is often used as a symbol of purity and transcendence.
What is the meaning of the lotus flower in ancient Egyptian art?
In ancient Egyptian art, the lotus flower was associated with rebirth, regeneration, and the sun god Ra. It was often used in funerary art to represent the soul’s journey to the afterlife.
What is the meaning of the lotus flower in Chinese art?
In Chinese art, the lotus flower is associated with purity, harmony, and spiritual enlightenment. It is often used to symbolize the journey toward inner peace and enlightenment.
What is the meaning of the lotus flower in Western art?
In Western art, the lotus flower is often used as a decorative motif and is associated with beauty, elegance, and sophistication. It is also sometimes used as a symbol of spiritual awakening or enlightenment.
What are the different colors of lotus flowers, and what do they symbolize?
Lotus flowers come in a variety of colors, and each color has its own symbolic meaning. For example, a white lotus flower symbolizes purity and spiritual perfection, while a pink lotus flower symbolizes love, compassion, and purity of the heart.
What is the significance of the lotus flower in yoga?
In yoga, the lotus flower is often used as a symbol of the chakras, which are energy centers located throughout the body. The lotus flower represents the crown chakra, which is associated with spiritual awakening and enlightenment.
Lotus Flower Meaning – The Final Word
The beauty of a lotus flower goes beyond its aesthetics. It is considered by many cultures and religions as sacred and regarded for its many different meanings. This impressive plant continues to capture anyone’s attention with its enchanting bloom that comes in white, pink, yellow, red, blue, and purple.
Though short-lived, lotus flowers are highly valued as cut flowers for various occasions. Growing it at home is relatively easy, too. Provide it with the right conditions and proper care, and a lotus plant will shower you with its undeniably charming blooms.
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.
Comments are closed.