The events of the past couple of years have caused many of us to be separated from loved ones. But now, people are once again gathering for various activities and celebrating special occasions in person. As we head into 2023, we strive for greater connection with others and to find deeper, more engaging relationships.
One way to do that is to rally around things that bring us together. The elegant orchid is one such thing. This timeless flower — with its richly hued blooms; unusual-looking sepals, which are often mistaken for petals; long, wiry stems; and provocatively shaped and interestingly colored lips — is distinctive, alluring, and special. The qualities of unity, beauty, and love that the orchid embodies are much needed in today’s world, and they permeate any household that this unmistakable flower inhabits.
For those reasons and others, the experts at 1-800-Flowers.com chose the orchid as the 2023 Flower of the Year. They came to this decision after considering factors including the history of the flower, its popularity in the current climate, and its symbolism as it relates to what they expect the new year to hold.
Orchids are exotic, very luxurious tropicals that surprise and delight, and ultimately deliver a smile to the customer.
Vice president of merchandising
Orchids in history
Orchid blooms have been prized since ancient times in many parts of the world for their exotic beauty, symbolism, medicinal powers, and flavoring. The first-known mention of orchids was around 2,600 BC in China, which valued the flower for its medicinal properties, including the ability to heal coughs, lungs, eyes, kidneys, and stomach problems.
The ancient Greeks connected orchids with fertility, and friezes with orchid representations have been found in architecture from ancient Rome. In the Aztec civilization, orchids were prized not only for their beauty but for the strength they imparted. In fact, Aztec warriors drank a concoction mixed with the flavoring of the vanilla orchid and cocoa.
In Japan, orchids have long been symbols of peace, respect, and good fortune, and are often given as business gifts to show admiration. Throughout Asia, they are frequently displayed during New Year’s celebrations to symbolize happiness.
During the age of colonization, exotic tropical orchids were brought to Europe and opened a booming business in orchid exploration and trade. These flowers became coveted symbols of culture, refinement, elegance, and luxury. Orchid hunting and collecting — or “orchid delirium” — became an obsession of the wealthy, especially in Victorian England.
Today, orchid blooms are cherished for their horticultural value and are seen for sale everywhere. The vanilla orchid’s seeds and pods are used for vanilla extract flavoring, perfume, and aromatherapy.
Orchids are a highly diverse group of plants, native to the tropics but also to the cold latitudes of both the northern and southern hemispheres. Temperate and cold-climate orchids tend to be small, terrestrial plants that grow on the ground. But most species of tropical and subtropical orchids are epiphytes, aka air plants, growing on trees or other supports that get their nourishment from rainwater and humidity.
Scientists believe these ancient plants had their origins between 76 million and 84 million years ago. They are one of the oldest families of flowering plants on Earth and are also the largest, with over 26,000 species.
These remarkable flowers are symmetrical — one side is an exact copy of the other. They have three petals, two at the top and one below, called the labellum, that acts as a landing pad for pollinating insects. Behind the petals are three sepals that can be petal-like, or differently shaped and brightly colored or patterned, and their stamens and pistil are fused into one distinctive organ called a column.
A special gift
When someone receives an arrangement of orchid blooms, that person knows that their friend or loved one went out of their way to send something different and unique. There is that unexpected “wow” moment that brings the sender and recipient together.
“Orchids are exotic, very luxurious tropicals that surprise and delight, and ultimately deliver a smile to the customer,” says Alfred Palomares, vice president of merchandising at 1-800-Flowers.com. “The gift of orchids goes above and beyond what they were expecting.”
Orchids bring an element of exotic, elegant beauty into any space. Whether they are used as a gorgeous accessory that brightens a living room or an exquisite centerpiece that enhances a gracious dining table, orchids never fail to lift the mood in a home or office.
All the orchids that 1-800-Flowers.com sells are grown in Thailand and preserved carefully throughout their journey from the farm to the door. Once they reach your house, though, it is important that you continue that care.
First, cut the stems at an angle and set them in water with the flower food as soon as you can. They will stay fresher longer if you display them in the coolest part of a room, away from heaters or the hot sun.
(Those are just the basics, though. If you want to learn all the ins and outs of caring for an orchid — both the cut variety and flowering plant — read our post titled “Learning to Care for Your First Orchid.“)
An orchid bloom is as unique as it is radiant. Giving a bouquet or arrangement of orchids shows that the sender carefully considered what kind of gift to get, and that the object of that person’s affection holds a special place in their heart. In short, an orchid makes the recipient feel as special as the flower itself.
When is the best time to send an orchid? According to Palomares, it is when you want to let someone know that you are thinking about them and want to bring a smile to their day.