Everything You Need to Know About Lotus Flower Meanings, Symbolism, History, Origins and Cultural Significance
At first glance, you may think that a lotus flower is just like any other striking bloom adding a nice pop of color to a landscape. Sure, the plant’s delicate, symmetrical form and charming colors are a head-turner, but beyond beauty are deeper meanings and symbolism worth noting. In fact, lotus flowers are valued and considered sacred in various parts of the world, particularly in many Eastern cultures. So what makes lotus plants unique, and why are they so popular? Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about Lotus Flower Meanings and Symbolism, cultural and religious significance in Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Ancient Egypt. Plus we’ll share our top tips on growing lotus flowers at home and how to care for lotus flowers. Enjoy!
The Lotus Flower
Lotus plants are aquatic herbaceous perennials that are mostly 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, otherwise known as 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, on the other hand, is also called Yellow Lotus because it produces yellow blooms. Unlike the Sacred Lotus, the American Lotus originated from the East Coast of North America.
Both lotus species are edible. For instance, the plant’s underground stem, known as rhizomes, are commonly consumed by Asians and Native American tribes for their starch content. The leaves serve as vegetables, and the stamens flavor teas. Lotus seeds are likewise fit for human consumption. They are consumed like nuts and dried and ground into flour. Various plant parts have medicinal properties.
History and Origins of Lotus Flowers
Fossil records show that lotus flowers have been in existence 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. To this day, 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. As with other flowers, their meanings and spiritual interpretations vary depending on their color.
White Lotus Flower Meanings:
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 Meanings:
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 close bud represents passing through the spiritual path, while a fully-bloomed one means enlightenment.
Yellow Lotus Flower Meanings:
Lotus flowers are also available in yellow. They often symbolize religious beliefs.
Red Lotus Flower Meanings:
The meaning of a red lotus flower is not too far 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 Meanings:
Blue lotus flowers are captivating and hard to find. They mean wisdom, knowledge, ability to control things over emotions, worldly aspirations, and senses.
Purple Lotus Flowers:
Lotus flowers in purple are often associated with Buddhism. They mostly represent self-awakening.
Buddhism and the Lotus Flower
Lotus flowers play a vital role in Buddhism. They generally represent spiritual awakening, purity, and faithfulness. This belief roots from the fact that lotus flowers emerge from muddy waters. For Buddhism, that means the act of rising above despite the 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, on the contrary, have a deeper meaning as their petals represent important teaching of Buddha called the Noble Eightfold Path. The pink lotus flower, however, gives an essential sense in 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 somehow 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 represent 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 such 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. Also, lotus has always been a frequent sight in ancient Egypt’s hieroglyphics. It holds a significant symbol uniting the 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. However, 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, is the symbol of the 21st Jina, Neminatha.
Lotus Flower Symbolism in Tattoos
A lotus flower is a pretty common choice for tattoos and this roots back 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. Besides, nothing says Get well soon, Thank you, or I’m thinking about you better than beautiful, meaningful, and one-of-a-kind flowers like lotus, right?
As with any other famed blooms, you can easily gift lotus cut flowers to anyone on any occasion. They come in a range of 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 in 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, as long as you provide it with the right conditions. To help you get started with growing your lotus plant, here’s a quick-growing guide to consider.
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 in mind to place 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 to do an occasional flush to avoid the accumulation of minerals in the water.
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.
Like any other plant, lotus plants benefit from the use of fertilizers. Whether it’s slow- or fast-release, or liquid or granules, any kind or form of fertilizers will help lotus plants grow better. Your best option, though, is an aquatic plant fertilizer. Also, one thing to note is the timing of fertilization. Lotus plants first produce floating leaves, also known as aerial pads, and then standing leaves follow. Please note, only fertilize in spring when the standing leaves begin to emerge.
Be careful not to over-fertilize your lotus because too much fertilizer may burn the leaves of your plant.
Lotus Flower Care Tips
Lotus plants are mainly grown for their charming blooms. So, lotus cut flowers are not out of the ordinary. They can last for only 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.
Here are some Lotus Cut Flower Care Tips:
- Folding the petals of an unopened lotus flower helps make it hold its shape much longer.
- Hydrate your lotus cut flower by placing it in a clean vase with clean water.
- Place it in average room temperature (69 to 72 degree F) or a fridge (55 degrees F) for 1 to 2 days.
The beauty of a lotus flower goes beyond its aesthetics. Considered by many cultures and religions as sacred and regarded for its many different meanings and symbolism. Aside from that, 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 or as decors. 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.