Last updated on May 22nd, 2023 at 02:59 pm

Hothouse flower does not refer to a specific flower species. It is a larger category under which many species of flowers can be placed. The word ‘hothouse’ is a synonym for the greenhouse. Heated greenhouses are sometimes referred to as hothouses in informal language. A greenhouse is a building structure that grows plants that need excess heat and sunlight. It consists of large windows and plastic sheets.

In some cases, it is completely made of glass. The sunlight passes through the structure, and heat is trapped inside it. Thus, it is also known as a ‘hothouse.’ Flowers that grow in heated environments are known as hothouse flowers, as they require a hothouse to grow in colder regions. Thus, ‘hothouse flowers’ categorizes flowers based on their temperature requirements.

In everyday language, the term ‘hothouse flower’ has transcended the field of floriculture. A human being can also be called a ‘hothouse flower’ if they come off as sheltered. Children who are shy, fragile, and require protection from their parents to grow properly are called ‘hothouse flowers.’ The term is not necessarily used in a derogatory way, as many successful human beings have defined themselves as ‘sheltered,’ ‘shy,’ and ‘introverted.’ 

Child psychologists have often used the metaphors of floriculture in their writing about children. A child’s growth is referred to as the “blooming of a flower,” the flower being a child.

An article in The Atlantic used the metaphor of flowers to categorize children. In the article, children who could thrive anywhere were called ‘Dandelions.’ Dandelions are flowers that are one of the most commonly found species in the whole world. Thus, they can grow almost anywhere with little to no difficulty, which is why the metaphor was used in the article above. 

On the other hand, sheltered and shy children who required extra care from their parents were called ‘Orchids.’ Orchids, or the Orchidaceae, are considered hothouse flowers as most of their species are found in tropical regions. In other words, many species of Orchids require a hothouse to grow in cold regions.

Apart from child psychologists, novelists and poets have extensively used the term ‘hothouse flower’ in their works. Thus, the cultural significance of hothouse flowers is also quite high. The usage of this term in art and its cultural significance will be discussed later in this article.

What does the Hothouse flower symbolize?

Hothouse flowers are mostly exotic and grow in environments with high temperatures. As with all wildlife found in the tropics, hothouse flowers are also quite beautiful. They come in various colors and forms. Flowers from colder regions look pale in comparison with hothouse flowers. 

For instance, many species of orchids come in breathtaking colors. Thus, due to their diverse colors and aesthetics, hothouse flowers have come to symbolize beauty and liveliness.

Another symbolic meaning of hothouse flowers stems from requiring extra care and shelter in colder regions. This symbolic meaning originates in cultures in colder countries where hothouse flowers are considered exotic. Thus, a hothouse flower symbolizes fragile beauty. People who are creative and like to be all by themselves are called “hothouse flowers.”

In Greek culture, orchids have come to symbolize fertility, sexuality, and virility. Many color variants of orchids also specifically symbolize sexuality and fertility. Moreover, the fact that these flowers were brought to the Western world from tropical regions made them valuable. Orchids and other hothouse flowers were considered exotic and represented luxury and wealth.

Orchids also symbolize something far deeper in certain cultures. In funerals, orchids are used as a reminder of the deceased’s family or friend’s undying love for them. They represent a bond between people that transcends life and death. Thus, based on the color, one can use orchids in diverse manners.

All in all, the hothouse flower symbolic meanings are:

  • fragile beauty
  • fertility
  • sexuality
  • virility

Meaning of the Hothouse flower colors

Blue color

Blue orchids symbolize spirituality and calmness. There are very few species of orchids that have blue flowers. More often than not, some of these species’ flowers are bluish or border on purple. For instance, Vanda Orchids are deep blue. A few other species of orchids are blue and quite popular among flower enthusiasts. This popularity stems ferom their rarity. 

However, Vanda Orchids take the cake because their blue color is natural. Other “species” of blue orchids are altered to give them an artificial blue color. These are injected with dyes to make them appear shiny blue. Thus, if you want to go for naturally blue orchids, the Vanda Orchid is the plant for you.

Purple color

Purple orchids symbolize royalty and respect. Unlike blue orchids, purple orchids can easily be found in nature. However, some of these purple orchids are passed off as blue orchids after some artificial alteration. 

Nevertheless, purple orchids are quite aesthetic and make an amazing addition to people’s flower collections. One popular example of a purple orchid is Orchis Purpurea, also known as the Lady Orchid.

Pink color

Pink orchids make popular gifts for females as they symbolize and celebrate femininity. There are many varieties of pink orchids, such as Nacamptis Papilionacea, Bletilla Striata, Caladenia Carnea, Cypripedium Acaule, Dendrobium Bracteosum, Dendrobium Kingianum, Neofinetia Falcata, etc. 

Pink orchids are easy to come by and can be found at most flower shops. They make for amazing romantic gifts on occasions such as anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, etc.

Red color

Red orchids symbolize desire and passion. They come in very dramatic shades. These orchids look as if they were hand-colored by some of the greatest artists themselves. Their aesthetics far exceed those of other orchids. One popular bright red orchid is the “Lava Burst” or Howeara.

Interesting facts about the Hothouse flowers

  • The cultural and symbolic meanings that hothouse flowers have acquired are due to globalism. Of course, globalism started way back when trade routes were established between different kingdoms and empires. With the rise of sea travel, Europeans organized expeditions into unknown lands, and diverse cultures came into contact with each other. 
  • With them, Europeans brought back a lot of things to the homeland, such as spices and exotic wildlife. Tropical flowers were also brought back and became known as hothouse flowers. Their exotic roots shaped the meaning they acquired in various cultures. 
  • Merchants and traders who brought back exotic wildlife and plants from other continents sold them to wealthy European individuals. Thus, these hothouse flowers also became expensive gifts. Today, the tradition of gifting rare and exotic flowers still holds up.
  • Another interesting fact about orchids, a type of hothouse flower, is that vanilla is extracted from one of its species. The spice known as vanilla is derived from an Orchid genus of the same name. The scientific name of that particular flower is Vanilla planifolia. Thus, without orchids, we might never have invented the wonderful vanilla ice cream. What a tragedy that would’ve been!
  • Hothouse flowers have been mentioned in a lot of works by various artists. The novel ‘Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire’ by Margot Berwin is one such example. Another example is the novel ‘Hothouse Flower’ by Becca Ritchie and Krista Ritchie. Artists have usually used this term, as well as flowers belonging to the category of hothouse flowers, in metaphors. 
  • The cultural significance of hothouse flowers arises from their exotic roots and nature. Their unparalleled beauty has, time and again, inspired artists of all kinds.
  • Of course, flowers have, time and again, been used as a source of inspiration by various artists. For example, almost everyone is familiar with the poem ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ by William Wordsworth, wherein he immortalized daffodils. Another such example would be the poem ‘A Red, Red Rose’ by Robert Burns.
  • Exotic or hothouse flowers, specifically, are used by artists in their works for their immaculate beauty. The aesthetics of hothouse flowers captivate the imaginations of artists and make them fall in love with those flowers. Thus, hothouse flowers have become quite significant in almost all cultures.

Best time to gift Hothouse flowers

The act of gifting flowers to loved ones can be traced back to ancient times. Hothouse flowers are amazing gifts due to their exotic nature and beautiful looks. It is accepted that hothouse flowers are more aesthetic than plain flowers native to cold regions.

The ideal time to give someone tropical or hothouse flowers is summertime, as that would increase their chances of survival. However, it is perfectly okay to give them to people in winter, too, as long as they are careful. Tropical flowers or hothouse flowers require extra care as they are very delicate. Thus, brief the person you give them on how they can take proper care of them. Many hothouse flowers are expensive, so you wouldn’t want them to die so easily.

You can purchase hothouse flowers from florists or directly from privately-owned greenhouses. If you like challenges, you can also grow them by setting up a little greenhouse in your backyard! However, that can be a tedious process.


Overall, hothouse flowers make amazing gifts with rich cultural value and significance. Moreover, these flowers also exceed expectations in terms of beauty. Hothouse flowers are a must-have for people who love flowers and appreciate their beauty. These exotic flowers can liven up one’s garden or room.

If you want to know and learn more about flowers, we at PansyMaiden can help you. Check out our fun, easy-to-read, and informative flower-related content that you will surely enjoy!