The term ‘hothouse flower’ does not refer to a specific species of flowers. It is a larger category under which a lot of species of flowers can be placed. The word ‘hothouse’ is a synonym of the greenhouse. Heated greenhouses are sometimes referred to as hothouses in informal language. A greenhouse is a building structure used to grow 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, the term ‘hothouse flowers’ is a term used to categorize 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 referred to as a ‘hothouse flower’ if they come off as sheltered. Children who are shy, fragile, and require protection from their parents to grow properly are also 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. The growth of a child 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, it can be concluded that they can grow almost anywhere with little to no difficulty, and that is why the metaphor was used in the aforementioned article. On the other hand, sheltered and shy children who required extra care from their parents were referred to as ‘Orchids’. Orchids or the Orchidaceae are considered to be hothouse flowers as most of their species is 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 also made use of the term ‘hothouse flower’ extensively 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 very article.
Various types of Hothouse Flowers
As mentioned before, hothouse flower is a category that encompasses a wide range of exotic flowers that grow naturally in tropical regions. A hothouse or greenhouse is necessary for them to be grown in colder regions. Thus, there are many types and varieties of hothouse plants and flowers available in the market. Below are some types of hothouse flowers and their variants:
Orchids or Orchidaceae are the most common hothouse flowers in the world. Orchids are found almost everywhere, even in colder regions. However, a majority of their various species is native to tropical regions where sunlight is plentiful and the temperatures are high. There are currently 28,000 species of Orchids that have been discovered. The structure of their flowers varies from species to species. Some Orchids have single flowers. However, a majority of species have a group of flowers. This arrangement is also known as a racemose inflorescence.
Biologists and Paleontologists estimate that the Orchids came into existence about 76 to 84 million years ago. Thus, Orchids predate the first true apes, who came into existence only 55 million years ago. The fact that these plants came before our ancestors only increases their symbolic value, and makes them a must-have for all flower enthusiasts. Orchids come in a variety of colors. Some of the most popular are:
- Blue Orchids: 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 of deep blue color. There are a few other species of Orchids that are blue in color, and they are quite popular among flower enthusiasts. This popularity stems from their rarity. However, Vanda Orchids take the cake because their blue color is totally 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 Orchids: Unlike blue orchids, purple orchids can easily be found in nature. Some of these purple orchids, however, are passed off as blue orchids after some artificial alteration. Nevertheless, purple orchids in themselves are quite aesthetic and make for 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 Orchids: 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 you can find them at most flower shops. They make for amazing romantic gifts on occasions such as anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, etc.
- Red Orchids: Red Orchids 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.
The Bromeliaceae family of flowering plants is native to tropical Americas. Some species in this family are also found in parts of West Africa. Also known as the bromeliads, this family includes the species Ananas comosus or the pineapple. Yes, pineapples from this family of plants. Apart from the tasty pineapple, the bromeliad family of flowering plants also features a variety of exotic flowers that look simply amazing. Bromeliads have long-lasting flowers and require the same kind of care as orchids do. Some common species of bromeliads are Dyckia, Vriesias, Bilbergia, etc.
The two types of hothouse plants mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many tropical or hothouse flowers out there that look just as amazing as orchids and bromeliads.
Symbolic Meaning of Hothouse Flowers
Hothouse flowers are mostly exotic and they grow in environments with high temperatures. As with all wildlife that is found in the tropics, hothouse flowers too are 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 the fact that they require extra care and shelter in colder regions. This symbolic meaning originates in cultures found in colder countries where hothouse flowers are considered exotic. Thus, a hothouse flower there symbolizes fragile beauty. People who are creative and like to be all by themselves are referred to as “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 also stood for luxury and wealth.
Today, different colored orchids symbolize different things. Red Orchids, for instance, symbolize desire and passion. Thus, they make amazing romantic gifts. Blue orchids symbolize spirituality and calmness. Purple orchids symbolize royalty and respect. Pink orchids make popular gifts for females as they symbolize and celebrate femininity. White orchids symbolize peace, prosperity, and purity.
Yellow orchids make an amazing gift for friends as they symbolize true friendship.
Orchids also symbolize something far deeper in certain cultures. In funerals, orchids are used as a reminder of the deceased’s family or friends’ undying love for them. They are used to represent a bond between people that transcends life and death. Thus, based on the color, one can actually make use of orchids in diverse manners.
Interesting Facts and Characteristics of Hothouse Flowers
The cultural and symbolic meanings that hothouse flowers have acquired are due to globalism. Of course, globalism started out way back when trade routes were established between different kingdoms and empires. With the rise of sea travel, expeditions were organized by Europeans into unknown lands, and a diversity of 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 they came to be 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 individuals in Europe. 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 that is popularly 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!
Cultural Significance of Hothouse Flowers
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 made use of 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 flowers or hothouse flowers, specifically, are used by artists in their works for their immaculate beauty. It is the aesthetics of hothouse flowers that 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 Someone Hothouse Flowers
The act of gifting flowers to loved ones can be traced back to ancient times. Hothouse flowers make for amazing gifts due to their exotic nature and beautiful looks. It is an accepted fact that hothouse flowers are way more aesthetic than the plain flowers native to cold regions.
The ideal time to gift someone tropical or hothouse flowers is summertime as that would increase their chances of survival. However, it is perfectly okay to gift them to people in winters too as long as they are careful with them. Tropical flowers or hothouse flowers require extra care as they are very delicate. Thus, make sure to brief the person you gift them to on how they can take proper care of them. Many hothouse flowers are also quite 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 yourself by setting up a little greenhouse in your own backyard! However, that can be a tedious process.
All in all, hothouse flowers make for amazing gifts as they have a rich cultural value and significance. Moreover, these flowers also exceed expectations in terms of beauty. For people who love flowers and appreciate their beauty, hothouse flowers are a must-have. These exotic flowers can liven up one’s garden or room.