The Stephanotis flower is a lovely, jasmine-like bloom, partial to tropical climates. Its scientific name is Stephanotis floribunda, indicating its nature as an abundant flowering plant (floribunda).
The Stephanotis flower meaning is also sourced from two ancient, Greek terms:
- Stephanos, meaning fit for a crown. And,
- Otis, meaning ear.
This royal name is indeed fitting, and is attributed to the shape of its white blossoms.
You see, each Stephanotis flower is made of 5 symmetrical petals, and each individual petal is finely shaped like a delicate, human ear. The flowers can also be strung together to give it a distinct, crown-like appearance. In fact, it is this regal manifestation that made the Stephanotis flower a favorite of both men and women in traditional and aristocratic families.
This culture is honored even today, as many a memorable bride taps into the blue-blooded origins of this flower, by using it in her tasteful bridal wreath.
Availability and Origin:
The Stephanotis flower grows abundantly in several parts of Africa, Madagascar, and Asia (including China, Japan and India). This evergreen plant is not from the Jasmine family. And yet, it is commonly known as the Madagascar Jasmine. This plant was supposedly discovered in Madagascar, a small island near Africa with a large Arabian population. Its flowers also carry the glorious luminescence and fragrance typically associated with Jasmine.
The Stephanotis flower is also famous as the Hawaiian Jasmine in the United States, indicating this flowering vine’s ability to grow in weather conditions that mimic a tropical climate (like Hawaii). It is important to create a warm temperature for this plant and keep it away from the frost. In return, it will thrive beautifully and reward you with a delightful bloom every spring and summer!
What do Stephanotis flowers symbolize
The Stephanotis flower meaning has many a noble connotation. Its royal nature becomes apparent from its Greek origins. But by frequently associating it with the term “Jasmine”, despite being from a different flowering species, florists also bring whimsical attention to the underlying qualities of this aromatic bloom.
For instance, did you know that the word Jasmine itself is derived from the Arabian term “Yasmeen”, meaning a sublime offering from the Divine? And yet, it is Stephanotis flower bouquets that are most popular with Middle-Eastern families. (Yes, not Jasmine!)
This flower is more hardy than a traditional Jasmine flower, so its bouquets continue to look fresh for longer periods of time. Its incense is more subtle in nature, making it suitable for princess-like brides with a sensitive disposition. This pretty plant creeper also flowers in abundance during the spring-summer wedding season, so it becomes the preferred choice of elite wedding planners. But perhaps the icing on the cake comes from its luminous appearance, hinting at the angelic qualities of the being who is fortunate enough to don its flowered crown!
In the end, this flower is often used in paradoxical ways – as a festive part of a magnificent bridal bouquet, or as a gentle closure in a simple burial wreath. This makes it seem like it is all “Kismet” or fate, working in miraculous ways to make it a large part of all spiritual union!
What do the various colors of the Stephanotis flower mean
1. Pure white flowers:
In its original form, the Stephanotis flower is bright white in color. This color has traditionally been seen as a symbol of simplicity, purity, and innocence. It is hence fitting that this authentic variety is popular among bridal bouquets in both Eastern and Western traditions.
Its pure-white color has spiritual significance in Eastern traditions. For instance, Rumi – the famous Sufi mystic once said, “A white flower grows in the quietness. Let your tongue become that flower”. This is a perfect representation of the Stephanotis flower meaning.
Finally, this graceful flower is also used in some cultures in burial wreaths, indicating the powerful and cyclic nature of life, even during death.
2. White flowers, with hints of pale yellow:
In recent times, botanists have discovered simple ways to add hints of color ( (like pale lemon yellow), to the plant’s foliage. Also, this is achieved not through any specialized form of hybrid breeding, but by exposing the original vines to less (direct) sunlight just before the spring-summer season.
As the plant begins to flower, the center of each petal takes on a light yellow hue. With this, the white-yellow color symbolizes joy and friendship. In fact, it is this variety that is more commonly found in indoor gardens.
It also seems metaphorical that the plant stays true to its angelic Stephanotis flower meaning, as the white color remains dominant even in altered weather conditions. As spiritualists love to say, “Be like the Stephanotis flower, retaining your true nature even when you are far from home.” Touché!
Interesting facts and characteristics of the Stephanotis flower
1. Give it a little bit of support to watch it grow into a towering vine!
The Stephanotis plant is a powerful creeper, with the ability to grow up to ten feet tall in a couple of years. For this reason, committed botanists prefer to grow it outdoors on a long trellis, so the vine has plenty of space to showcase its charming blooms.
2. Its fresh cut flowers can paint a pretty picture for days!
The Stephanotis foliage has a thick, waxy texture, giving it a longer lifetime than more delicate flowers like traditional Jasmine. If you like sprucing up your abode with fresh flowers in a vase, the Stephanotis flower is a great choice!
3. The plant can be like a delicate bride, needing extra special care during cold winters.
One of the reasons this vine thrives in a tropical or sub-tropical climate, is because of its increased sensitivity to sudden changes in temperature. This flowering vine is particularly resistant to frost, so gardeners recommend getting it indoors in cold weather conditions. If you fail to do this, you run the risk of losing your seemingly healthy Stephanotis plant, unexpectedly and overnight!
4. It makes for a appealing indoor plant.
This may seem ironical for a tropical plant, but the Stephanotis flower does better in the shade all year in continental climate conditions. So if you live North America, you can still grow this plant by mimicking a tropical climate indoors. Place it next to a window just before the start of spring to enjoy its blooms all through summer. You can also push it deeper into your home during winter, where it will peacefully co-exist in a less colder temperature. Also, the plant is less invasive when it is indoors, growing to a manageable 3-4 feet length with minimal support (like a moss stick).
5. It needs minimal watering and fertilization to stay healthy all through the year.
This is not a vine that expects to be watered every day. Given its love for the tropical climate, the plant can thrive with weekly watering and monthly fertilization, as long as the weather does not change overnight. It is also best to avoid fertilization all through winter.
6. It bears pear-shaped fruits that add to its fragrance.
It is not just the flowers of this plant that carry its powerful incense. Yes, the fruits are aromatic too! It typically takes a Stephanotis flower 4-5 years to bear fruit. They look like small pears, but are not necessarily edible. They are also non-toxic to animals.
7. Watch out for pesky mealy-bugs while caring for this leathery plant.
The Stephanotis plant tends to attract mealy bugs, especially when it is grown outdoors. If it is badly infected, it can stunt the growth of the vine and stop flowering for several years! To avoid this, use a fortnightly spray with warm water and Neem oil. This will also help the leaves stay thick, green and strong.
8. It is celebrated as a perennial bloom in Madagascar.
In its native home range, the Stephanotis plant can flower all through the year with fragrant blooms. In fact, it is easier to grow the Stephanotis floribunda vine here than conventional Jasmine flowers. This contributes significantly to its popularity with locals.
9. Stephanotis flowers are partial to sun and light.
If you have a Stephanotis plant which frequently generates buds that fall before they bloom, it means that your plant is missing sun and light. To extend its blooms, move it to a warmer location. You can even move it indoors and substitute direct sunlight with artificial light to help it bloom.
10. Stephanotis plants can be comfortably grown in containers for their entire lifetime.
This may seem surprising for a creeping vine. But you can grow the Stephanotis plant in a large pot, with a central moss stick for extra support. You will also need to repot it every 2-3 years for better drainage. With this, the plant can comfortably last through a 10-year lifespan, co-existing peacefully indoors in its container.
11. The Stephanotis plant is considered an exotic climber in North America.
Outside of Hawaii, it is rare to spot this aromatic bloom. This is because propagation needs to be carefully managed, where the root cutting has at least 2 other nodes. It can also take a Stephanotis plant as long as 5 years to bear fruits with seeds, making its seed collection a cumbersome process.
This is also a plant that does not respond well to untrained pruning. If you live outside its native home range, consider employing an experienced gardener to care for this rare and precious plant during the first couple of years. Else, you run the risk of exposing it to conditions that may inadvertently kill the plant, quickly and unexpectedly.
12. The best time to buy a juvenile Stephanotis plant is in fall/ autumn.
It may be tempting to buy this plant in spring or summer, when it is more likely to be in full bloom. But this is a delicate flowering vine that is extra sensitive to any change in location or temperature. So your new plant will drop its flowers quickly when you bring it home in spring/ summer. Also, you may have to wait for another year or two before the plant feels comfortable to flower again. Hence it is best to bring it home in autumn, when it is filled with green leaves but no flowers. The leaves are hardy and adjust to changing temperatures better, giving the plant a higher chance of flowering during the following spring season.
13. It may look like a Jasmine, smell like a Jasmine, but is scientifically not a Jasmine!
The Stephanotis flower belongs to the “Apocynaceae” species, in the milkweed family of climber plants. They are characterized by their dark green leaves with a leathery texture, and contrasting white flowers with a waxy texture. In fact, it is the startling contrast that makes this flowering plant a favorite in various types of bouquets.
On the other hand, Jasmine flowers are not only aromatic, but also have several healing properties. In fact, Jasmine aromatic oils are often used as a natural healing technique, and even as a meditative herb. These properties are lacking in the Stephanotis plant species.
Best time to gift someone Stephanotis flowers
This bloom is adored across the world for several reasons, including its fragrance, and the regal celebration associated with the original Stephanotis flower meaning. So there is never a “bad time” to gift someone a Stephanotis flower bunch.
The vine typically flowers outdoors in spring-summer, in accordance with its love for a tropical temperature. However, botanists have found clever ways to extend its season by converting it into an indoor plant just before winter. With this, the plant is subtly “tricked” into blooming in early winter, so florists can enjoy its flowers even during the start of winter!
Stephanotis flowers are also preferred in festive bouquets. So if you form a part of a bridal party, do not hesitate to pick up this bloom to add to the celebration!
Finally, the color white is synonymous with LIFE – with hope and fresh starts. So if you want to send an uplifting message to somebody, what better way than to gift them a delightful bunch of incandescent Stephanotis blooms!