What Does an Iris Flower Symbolize? The Meanings and Significance Behind This Beautiful Bloom

What does an iris flower symbolize? You may have seen these dainty blooms in gardens, wedding bouquets, or even as tattoo designs but have you ever wondered about their symbolic meaning? Beyond just their stunning beauty, irises carry a rich history of significance that dates back centuries.

For starters, the iris has remained a popular symbol of royalty and power since the ancient times. In Greek mythology, it was believed that irises were the creation of the messenger goddess Iris, who traveled between heaven and earth to deliver messages from Zeus. The stories say that the colorful petals of the iris were meant to represent the colors of the rainbow, which was the pathway that Iris used to travel between the two worlds.

In addition to representing royalty and power, irises also carry a message of hope and faith. This may be due to the fact that the iris is a hardy plant that can endure tough growing conditions and still flourish. In fact, it’s said that the ancient Egyptians used to plant irises on the graves of their loved ones as a symbol of hope that their spirits would continue to thrive in the afterlife. So, if you’re ever looking for a gift that conveys hope and steadfastness, consider giving a bouquet of irises to your loved ones!

Meaning of Iris Flower

The Iris plant is a wonder to behold, with vibrant petals and intricate structure. For centuries, people have looked to the Iris flower as a symbol of various emotions and ideas. Below are some of the most common meanings behind the Iris flower:

  • Purity: The Iris flower is often seen as a symbol of beauty, purity, and innocence. This is perhaps due to its delicate appearance and soft, pastel colors.
  • Faith: In many cultures, the Iris flower is seen as a symbol of faith and hope. This is because the plant is known for its resilience and ability to survive harsh conditions.
  • Courage: The Iris flower is often associated with courage and strength. This may be due to the plant’s tall, sturdy stem and the fact that it blooms in late winter or early spring, when most other flowers are still dormant.

Of course, the meaning of a flower can vary depending on the culture and the context. For example, the Iris is also sometimes associated with death and mourning, possibly because its name comes from the Greek word for “rainbow,” which was seen as a bridge between this life and the afterlife.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the Iris flower is a powerful symbol with many different interpretations. Whether you are looking to convey purity, faith, or courage, the Iris is a great choice for a gift or decoration.

For those looking to dive deeper into the symbolic meaning of the Iris flower, here is a brief table of meanings:

Meaning Culture/Context
Purity Western
Faith/hope Japanese
Courage/strength Greek
Death/mourning Roman

Regardless of the specific meaning you choose to assign to it, the Iris flower is a beautiful and timeless symbol that can brighten up any space or occasion.

History of Iris Flower Symbolism

The iris flower has been a symbol of different cultures throughout history, representing various meanings and beliefs. Its significance ranges from being a symbol of royalty and power to conveying messages of faith, wisdom, and hope. One of the most notable features of the iris flower symbolism is its connection to the ancient Greek mythology.

  • Ancient Greek Mythology: In Greek mythology, Iris was the messenger of the gods, and her name was the same as the flower. It was believed that the petals of the iris flower were dyed by the rainbow, which was her pathway to and from the heavens. Thus, the iris flower became a symbol of eloquence, communication, and the connection between earth and heaven.
  • Romans and Egyptians: In Roman and Egyptian cultures, the iris flower was also a symbol of power and majesty. Its rich colors and intricate patterns symbolized the royalty and luxury of the elite class and were often used in the regalia.
  • Christian Symbolism: During the Middle Ages, the iris flower took on a Christian symbolism that represented the Holy Trinity. The three petals of the iris represented the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all united in one divine essence. Additionally, the blue and white colors of the iris flowers symbolized Mary and her purity.

Apart from these cultural beliefs, the iris flower is also popularly associated with sentiments of faith, hope, wisdom, and courage. Its three petals also signify balance, which is crucial in leading a harmonious life. Whether in art, literature, or popular culture, the iris flower remains one of the most versatile and gorgeous flowers with an interesting history and cultural significance that continues to enthrall people around the world.

To understand further, here is a table of different iris flower symbolism through cultures:

Culture/ Symbolism Meaning/ Interpretation
Greek Culture/ Mythology Communication, eloquence, heaven and earth connection
Roman and Egyptian Culture Royalty, power, and luxury
Christian Symbolism Holy Trinity, Mary’s purity, balance

Overall, the iris flower symbolizes so much more than just a pretty flower. Its rich history and cultural significance have made it a timeless symbol of beauty, power, and wisdom.

Iris Flower in Literature

The iris flower has been a popular symbol in literature for centuries. It has been featured in countless poems, novels, and plays, and is often used to represent a range of themes and emotions. Here are some examples of how the iris flower is used in literature:

  • Beauty: The iris flower is often associated with beauty, grace, and elegance. In poetry, writers often use the iris as a metaphor for a beautiful and alluring woman. For example, in his poem “To Helen,” Edgar Allan Poe describes his love interest as “a high-born maiden, crowned with a wreath of white iris.”
  • Purity: The iris flower can also symbolize purity and innocence. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, “The Scarlet Letter,” the character Pearl is often described as wearing an iris in her hair, representing her purity and innocence in the midst of the sin and shame around her.
  • Transition: The iris flower can also represent transition and change. This is often seen in Japanese literature, where the iris is used to symbolize the changing of the seasons. For example, in the haiku by Basho, “Summer grasses, / All that remains / Of brave soldiers’ dreams,” the iris is used as a symbol of the fleeting nature of life and the passing of time.

Examples of Iris Flower in Literature

Here are some more famous examples of the iris flower in literature:

The Iris: This poem by Mary Oliver describes the beauty and mystique of the iris flower, and its ability to “draw us in” with its alluring color and fragrance.

Iris: This play by David Lan shows how the iris flower can be used as a powerful symbol of hope and resilience. Set in apartheid-era South Africa, the play follows a group of prisoners who find a patch of irises growing in the harsh environment of their prison camp. Despite their dire circumstances, the prisoners find joy and hope in the beauty of the flowers.

Irises in Art

The iris flower isn’t just popular in literature – it’s also a popular subject in art. One of the most famous examples of irises in art is Vincent van Gogh’s painting “Irises.” This beautiful piece features a vibrant bouquet of blue and purple irises, painted with Van Gogh’s signature thick and bold brushstrokes.

Artist Artwork
Georgia O’Keeffe Iris
Claude Monet Water Lilies and Irises
Pierre-Auguste Renoir Irises in a Vase

These examples show the enduring popularity and significance of the iris flower in literature and art. Whether used to represent beauty, purity, or transition, the iris continues to captivate and inspire audiences around the world.

Iris Flower in Art

The Iris flower has been a popular subject in art, with various cultures and artists incorporating it into their works. It has been used to convey different meanings and symbolisms, depending on the context and culture. Here are the different ways that Iris flower is represented in art:

  • Greek Mythology: In Greek mythology, Iris is the personification of the rainbow and a messenger of the gods. Her symbol is the Iris flower, which is believed to connect heaven and earth. This is why the flower is often depicted in Greek art, serving as a symbol of beauty and connection.
  • Japanese Art: In Japanese art, the Iris flower is known as “shobu,” which also means “victory.” It is often portrayed in paintings and prints as a symbol of strength, bravery, and determination.
  • Van Gogh: The famous artist Vincent Van Gogh used Iris flowers in many of his works, including his painting, “Irises.” He used the flowers to convey a sense of vitality and energy, often painting them with bold colors and strong brushstrokes.

In addition to these specific representations, the Iris flower has also been used in art to convey general meanings, such as elegance, grace, and appreciation. Whether in Western, Eastern, or modern art, the Iris flower remains a popular subject that continues to inspire artists today.

Overall, the Iris flower in art showcases the flower in different contexts as a symbol of various meanings. It gives beauty to the world of art as the flower is turned into a masterpiece.

Iris Flower in Mythology

The iris flower is a beautiful and recognizable flower that has been an important symbol in various mythologies throughout history. The flower has been associated with different meanings and symbols, making it a versatile flower in many cultures and traditions.

The Number 5

In Greek mythology, the iris flower is said to have five petals, representing the number five. This number is significant in that it represents different concepts and beliefs in various cultures. Here are some examples of the significance of the number five:

  • In ancient Babylonian mythology, there were five planets visible to the naked eye, which were believed to represent the gods.
  • According to the Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui, the number five represents the element of earth, which is associated with stability and balance.
  • In Egyptian mythology, the goddess Isis was often depicted with five points on her star-shaped crown, representing the five elements of earth, air, fire, water, and spirit.

The symbolism of the number five in relation to the iris flower varies depending on the culture and mythology it is associated with. However, it is clear that the number holds significant meaning across different beliefs and traditions.

Iris Flower in Religion

The iris flower has been associated with various religious and spiritual beliefs. The following are some of the most significant religious representations of the iris flower.

  • Christianity – In Christian symbolism, the iris flower represents the Holy Trinity. The three petals of the iris are said to represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In some parts of Europe, the iris is also known as the “sword lily” and is associated with the Virgin Mary.
  • Greek Mythology – The iris flower is named after the Greek goddess Iris, who was believed to be the messenger of the gods and the personification of the rainbow. According to Greek mythology, the iris flower was planted on the graves of women to help guide their souls to the afterlife.
  • Egyptian Mythology – In ancient Egypt, the iris flower was associated with the goddess Iris, who was the goddess of rebirth and resurrection. The iris was also used in funerary wreaths and was said to represent the life-giving water of the Nile.

The Number 6

The number 6 is often associated with the iris flower. The Greek goddess Iris is said to have six wings, and the iris flower has six petals. The number 6 also has a significant meaning in several religious and spiritual beliefs.

In Christianity, the number 6 is associated with imperfection and the devil. The number is said to be one less than seven, which is considered the perfect number, representing God’s work. In the Book of Revelation, the number 666 is associated with the Beast, the Antichrist, and evil.

However, in other religions and cultures, the number 6 has a more positive meaning. In Hinduism, six is a sacred number and is associated with the six chakras or energy centers in the body. In Chinese culture, the number 6 is considered lucky and is associated with wealth and success.

Religion/Culture Meaning of the Number 6
Christianity Imperfection and the devil
Hinduism Sacredness and the six chakras
Chinese Culture Luck, wealth, and success

Overall, the iris flower’s symbolism varies depending on the religious or cultural context. It is fascinating to see how different groups interpret its meaning, and how the same symbol can represent vastly different things to various people.

Iris Flower in Feng Shui

The iris flower has a significant meaning in Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese art of arranging living spaces to promote balance and harmony in life. According to Feng Shui principles, decorating your home or workspace with iris flowers can bring positive energy and good luck into your life.

The Number 7

In Feng Shui, the number 7 is considered lucky and is believed to bring good fortune in a variety of ways. The iris flower has seven petals, which represent the seven chakras, or energy centers, in the body. Each chakra is associated with a different color, and the seven petals of the iris flower can be used to balance the energy in each of these chakras.

  • The first chakra, located at the base of the spine, is associated with the color red.
  • The second chakra, located near the reproductive organs, is associated with the color orange.
  • The third chakra, located above the navel, is associated with the color yellow.
  • The fourth chakra, located in the center of the chest, is associated with the color green.
  • The fifth chakra, located in the throat, is associated with the color blue.
  • The sixth chakra, located in the forehead, is associated with the color indigo.
  • The seventh chakra, located at the top of the head, is associated with the color violet.

By incorporating the iris flower into your home or workspace, you can help balance the energy in each of these chakras and promote overall well-being and harmony.


The iris flower has long been associated with luck, wisdom, and confidence. In Feng Shui, it is believed that incorporating the iris flower into your surroundings can help promote balance and harmony in your life, especially when it comes to the seven chakras. Whether you choose to display them in a vase, as a painting, or as part of a larger arrangement, the iris flower is a powerful symbol that can attract positive energy and good fortune into your life.

Symbolism Explanation
Luck The iris flower is often associated with luck and good fortune, making it a popular choice for those looking to attract positive energy into their lives.
Wisdom The iris flower is also a symbol of wisdom and intelligence, making it a great choice for those who value knowledge and learning.
Confidence Finally, the iris flower is a symbol of confidence and strength, making it a great choice for those looking to boost their self-esteem and overcome any challenges they may face.

Overall, the iris flower is a powerful symbol that can bring a wealth of positive energy and good fortune into your life. Whether you incorporate it into your home or workspace for its Feng Shui benefits or simply appreciate its beauty and symbolism, the iris flower is sure to bring joy and positivity into your life.

Iris Flower in Medicine

The Iris flower has been used for medicinal purposes dating back to ancient Greek times. The Greek physician Hippocrates used the Iris to help treat skin infections and as a diuretic. The plant’s roots were also used by the ancient Greeks as a laxative.

Throughout history, the Iris has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, including to treat liver problems, kidney stones, and to relieve pain. Herbalists have used the plant to treat a range of conditions from coughs to menstrual cramps.

  • Antibacterial properties: The Iris flower contains compounds that have antibacterial properties and may help to fight off infections.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Iris flowers contain anti-inflammatory compounds that may help to reduce inflammation and swelling in the body.
  • Diuretic properties: The Iris flower has diuretic properties that can help to increase urine production and remove excess fluid from the body.

Today, the Iris flower is mostly used in homeopathy and aromatherapy. Homeopathic remedies made from the Iris are used to treat a range of conditions, including headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and menstrual cramps. The flower’s essential oil is used in aromatherapy to help reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve sleep.

While the Iris flower has a rich history in medicine, there is still much research to be done to fully understand its therapeutic potential and benefits.

Health Benefit How Iris is Used
Diuretic Root extract
Anti-inflammatory Leaf extract
Antibacterial Flower extract

The Iris flower has played a significant role in the history of medicine and continues to be used in alternative medicine today. With ongoing research, we may discover even more therapeutic uses for this beautiful and versatile flower.

Iris Flower in Perfumes

The iris flower has been a popular source of inspiration for perfumers for centuries. It has a rich floral fragrance that is both sweet and powdery, making it a popular choice for high-end perfumes. Here, we will discuss the significance of the iris flower in perfumes, along with its characteristics and uses in the fragrance industry.

The Significance of the Number 9 in Iris Flower Perfumes

The number 9 has a special significance in the world of iris flower perfumes. This is because the iris flower has 9 different layers when it blooms, each layer representing a different stage in the flower’s development and ultimately resulting in its signature shape. Perfumers often use 9 different iris notes in their creations to pay tribute to this unique characteristic.

  • These notes range from the earthy aroma of the root to the sweet and floral scent of the petals.
  • These notes are blended with complementary ingredients, such as violet, jasmine, or bergamot, to create a nuanced scent that is both complex and elegant.
  • The top notes of these perfumes are often citrusy and fresh, with the iris notes becoming more prominent as time goes on, resulting in a deep, rich scent that lasts throughout the day.

Some of the most famous iris-based perfumes include Chanel No. 19, Dior Homme, and Guerlain Apres L’Ondee. These perfumes showcase the versatility of the iris flower in creating fragrances that are both feminine and masculine, making it a popular choice for both men and women’s perfumes.

Other Characteristics and Uses of the Iris Flower in Perfumes

Aside from its significance in the number 9, the iris flower has several other characteristics that make it a sought-after ingredient in perfumes. These include:

  • A rich floral fragrance that is both sweet and powdery, making it ideal for creating elegant, sophisticated scents.
  • A wide range of colors, including purple, blue, and white, that help perfumers create unique, multi-layered fragrances that stand out from the crowd.
  • A long history of use in perfumery, dating back to ancient times, when it was used to craft expensive perfumes for the elite.
Characteristics Uses
Elegant and sophisticated fragrance Creating high-end perfumes
Wide range of colors Creating unique, multi-layered fragrances
Long history of use in perfumery Crafting expensive perfumes for the elite

Overall, the iris flower is a versatile and elegant ingredient in the world of perfumes. With its rich floral fragrance and unique characteristics, it will continue to be a sought-after ingredient for perfumers for many years to come.

Iris Flower in Gardening

Irises are elegant and low maintenance flowers that are popular among garden enthusiasts. They are easily recognized for their striking blooms and sword-shaped leaves. People plant Irises for their aesthetic appeal and symbolic significance.

The Symbolism of Iris Flowers

Iris flowers have held a special place in art, mythology, and literature for centuries. The ancient Greeks believed that these flowers represented the goddess Iris, who was the messenger between gods and humans. Similarly, the Egyptians associated these flowers with the goddess Isis and used them in religious rites.

Throughout history, the Iris flower has symbolized various human emotions and attributes. Here are a few of their meanings:

  • Purity and innocence
  • Sorrow and mourning
  • Valor and courage
  • Hope and faith
  • Passion and love
  • Wisdom and knowledge

Choosing a particular meaning for your garden’s Iris flowers is a personal decision. Some people use specific types or colors of Irises for their symbolism. For example, Purple Irises represent royalty and wisdom and are often given to college graduates or as a birthday gift.

Benefits of Planting Irises in Your Garden

Iris plants are easy to care for and can thrive in a wide variety of environments. They also have several benefits for your garden, including:

  • Attracting bees and butterflies
  • Improving soil stability
  • Preventing erosion
  • Providing ground cover
  • Resisting pests and diseases

The Iris flower is also an excellent choice for gardeners who prefer low maintenance plants. Once established, Irises require minimal watering and fertilizer and can survive in most soil types.

Growing Irises: Tips and Tricks

If you’re a beginner gardener, planting Irises is an excellent place to start. Here are a few tips to help you grow and care for your Iris flowers:

Timing: Plant Irises in late summer or early fall. Choose a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day.
Soil: Irises prefer well-draining soil. If you have heavy clay soil, mix in organic matter like compost or sand.
Spacing: Space your Iris bulbs or rhizomes at least 12 inches apart. Plant them about two inches deep, with the fatter end pointing downward.
Watering: Water your newly planted Irises thoroughly to help them establish roots. After that, only water them during long periods of drought.
Mulching: Mulching around your Irises can help keep the soil moist and control weeds.
Dividing: Iris plants should be divided every three to five years. This will prevent overcrowding and promote healthy growth.

If you follow these tips and tricks, you should have no trouble growing healthy and beautiful Iris flowers. Whether you choose them for their symbolic significance or their aesthetic appeal, Irises are sure to brighten up your garden.

FAQs: What does an iris flower symbolize?

1. What is the significance of an iris flower?
The iris flower symbolizes many things, such as faith, wisdom, and courage. It is also linked to royalty and the Greek goddess, Iris.

2. What do the colors of iris flowers symbolize?
Purple iris represents royalty, while blue iris represents faith and hope. White iris symbolizes purity and yellow iris symbolizes passion and warmth.

3. What does an iris tattoo symbolize?
An iris tattoo can represent many things, but commonly symbolizes the values of love, faith, and wisdom. It is also seen as a symbol of personal transformation and growth.

4. What does an iris flower represent in Japan?
In Japan, the iris flower represents bravery, strength, and resilience. It is often used in traditional Japanese art and poetry to symbolize the beauty of nature and human emotions.

5. Is the iris flower associated with any particular month?
The iris flower is commonly associated with February, as it is one of the birth flowers for people born during this month. It is also associated with the 25th wedding anniversary.

6. Are iris flowers used in traditional medicine?
Yes, iris flowers have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. The root of the iris plant has been used for its anti-inflammatory properties and as a remedy for sore throat and cough.

7. How can I incorporate iris flowers into my home decor?
You can incorporate iris flowers into your home decor by placing them in a vase, decorative pot, or weaving them into a wreath. You can also use iris prints in fabrics, wallpapers, and paintings to add a touch of elegance and beauty to your interiors.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for taking the time to learn about the symbolism of iris flowers. Whether as a tattoo on your skin or a decorative element in your home, the iris flower is a powerful symbol of many important values and qualities. We hope this article has inspired you to explore the world of iris flowers and find new ways to incorporate them into your life. Be sure to visit our site for more exciting articles and inspiration!