The Ultimate Guide to Lily Flowers Meaning and Symbolism

The Ultimate Guide to Lily Flowers: Meaning and Symbolism

The lily flower has wonderful meanings that perfectly match its beauty and timelessness. For example, it symbolizes femininity because of its graceful shape, lovely colors, and pleasing aroma.

But there is more to learn about this flower in terms of meaning, name origin, cultural impact, and uses. 

Learn them all in this complete guide and know exactly why lilies make for a special gift for someone!

How did the lily flower get its name?

How did the lily flower get its name

The word lily is derived from the Latin word lilium

Inspired by the flower, the name Lily had been immensely popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries, along with other feminine names. Today, it remains to be a common name for girls.

What are the botanical origins of the lily flower?

What are the botanical origins of the lily flower

The lily flower is a herbaceous plant belonging to the small genus Lilium. This genus comprises 80 to 100 species of the family Liliaceae.

These plants are home to temperate regions in North America, Europe, and mostly, Asia. Many of these lilies are beautifully hybridized, like the Orienpet and LA lily.

Although not true lilies, some lily-like plants are grouped under the Lilium genus like certain species of the Amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae) and the daylily (Hemerocallis).

Do lily flowers require a lot of maintenance

Compared to other plants, lily flowers are easy to care for and maintain.

Where do lily flowers bloom?

Lily flowers grow in many warm places in the Northern Hemisphere, including forests, meadows, grasslands, and marshes.

Also, the Northern Hemisphere includes North America, upper South America, the upper two-thirds of Africa, and most parts of Asia. 

When do lily flowers bloom?

True lily flowers bloom between spring and fall, but the exact period depends on the lily variety.

Do lilies grow best in sun or shade?

Lilies grow best in full sun or partial shade. Remember that they’re best grown shaded from intense summer or afternoon sun.

Do lilies grow better in pots or ground?

Lilies can grow well either in a pot or in the ground. This is provided they get ample light and watering, among other care needs.

What kind of soil do lily flowers prefer?

Lily flowers prefer organic, nutrient-rich, and well-drained soil to thrive. Also, their soil should be lightly acidic with a pH ranging from 6 to 6.5.

What do lily flowers mean?

What do lily flowers mean

Lily flowers mean a few different things, including love and femininity due to their beauty and fragrance.

Besides that, white lilies mean purity and chastity, which is why they’re often used in wedding bouquets or decor.

However, lilies can also mean mourning and loss. They can be given to comfort a person that has lost a family member or friend.

These meanings and symbols of lily flowers originated in Ancient Greece, Rome, and Victorian England.

What do the colors and symbolisms of lilies mean?

What do the colors and symbolisms of lilies mean

Pink lilies suggest infatuation, white lilies embody purity and innocence, red lilies suggest love and romance, yellow lilies signify beauty and wealth, and purple lilies mean majesty and pride.

Let’s dive further into the meanings and symbolisms of different lily colors.

ColorMeaning and Recommended Use
WhiteThere are positive and negative meanings associated with the white lily flower.

The positive ones are that these flowers stand for modesty, purity, and innocence.

In fact, the Roman Catholic Church formally recognizes the white lily as a symbol of the Virgin Mary’s qualities, namely chastity, purity, and faith.

That said, white lily flowers also express sadness and grief.

Recommended use: White lilies can be given as a gift to a couple on their wedding day, to a pregnant mom at a baby shower, or to pay tribute to a departed person during a funeral event.

RedLike all red flowers, red lilies represent love, desire, and passion.

Also, in Scandinavian and other cultures, red lilies are viewed as a symbol of strength and bravery.

Recommended use: Red lilies can be presented to a spouse or partner on dates, anniversaries, or Valentine’s Day to show how much they’re loved and respected.

OrangeOrange lilies can primarily depict a person’s joy, cheerfulness, and hope.

Since orange has red in it, the orange lily is also associated with strength and courage too.

However, in Japan, the bold color of orange lilies symbolizes hatred and revenge.

Recommended use: As a token of friendship or trust, orange lilies make for a great gift for a friend or co-worker.

They’re also often given to someone who’s going through a rough patch or recovering in a hospital.

PinkThe pink lily is seen as a symbol of fondness or infatuation with a person.

The meaning of pink lilies can also vary according to their shade.

For example, light-pink lilies convey femininity, beauty, and generosity, while dark-pink lilies symbolize ambition, wealth, and prosperity.

Recommended use: Pink lilies are an excellent gift for someone you like or admire, such as a friend, romantic interest, mother, or grandmother.

YellowYellow lilies take a different meaning based on the type of lily in question.

For instance, yellow calla lilies mean beauty and grace, Asiatic lilies connote wealth and success, while yellow Oriental lilies represent birth and a new start.

Recommended use: As a gift, yellow lilies show your appreciation to a close friend, sibling, or colleague or allow you to wish a person well in their new undertaking.

Also, yellow lilies can be given as a housewarming gift to help a couple or family feel calmer and more relaxed in their new home.

PurpleUncommon purple lily flowers represent royalty, elegance, and pride.

Furthermore, they can portray admiration, success, and passion.

Recommended use: Purple lilies are usually gifted to a person you look up to like a mentor, parent, sibling, or friend.

What did the lily symbolize in various historical periods?

What did the lily symbolize in various historical periods

The lily has symbolized purity, fertility, and motherhood since ancient times. It became a symbol for the Virgin Mary in medieval times and secretly meant love and beauty in Victorian Times.

Here’s what the lily flower symbolized throughout different points in history:

Ancient TimesIn ancient Rome and Greece, the lily was associated with love and beauty goddesses, giving it the meaning of fertility and childbirth.
Medieval Times and the RenaissanceIn the Middle Ages, the lily was associated with the Virgin Mary and featured in paintings of her.

It had the symbolism of elegance, purity, and innocence.

Victorian EnglandIn the Victorian language of flowers—floriography—lilies mean love or love-making.

The latter meaning was taken from the Ancient Romans who used to fill pillows and quilts with lilies because of their fragrant scent.

While the lily was used to cheer someone up, white lilies were also given to remember or pay tribute to a deceased person.

What are the cultural associations of the lily flower?

What are the cultural associations of the lily flower

The lily flower has both Western and Eastern cultural associations. Most people consider it to be a sign of elegance, happiness, and purity.

However, it’s also commonly brought to a loved one’s wake, as it signifies the precise moment a person dies.

Check the table below to explore the flower’s impact on different cultures.

ChinaIn China, people think of lilies as symbols of good luck, fortune, and a lasting relationship.
GreeceThe lily symbolizes femininity and childbirth in Greece.

This meaning stems from a Greek legend wherein the goddess Hera was tricked into breast-feeding a baby born of the god Zeus and a mortal woman.

In her anger, she flung the baby across the room, and at that moment, drops of milk fell to the ground where the first lilies were said to grow.

JapanIn Japan, a white lily represents grief and sadness, thus, it’s often given at funerals and memorials.

Also, an orange lily in this country symbolizes hatred and revenge.

US and UKSymbolizing peace, purity, and transience, white lily bouquets are commonly used for funerals in the US and UK.

What are the spiritual or religious meanings of the lily flower?

What are the spiritual or religious meanings of the lily flower

The spiritual meanings of the white lily are purity, innocence, and rebirth. 

As it starts as an underground bulb before bearing beautiful flowers, it also symbolizes the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, thereby signifying hope and a new start.

Here’s a more detailed look at the religious symbolism of the lily:

ChristianityIn Christian iconography or symbol interpretation, the white lily represents the Virgin Mary because of its immaculate color which suggests the idea of purity and innocence.

It also depicts the resurrection of Christ because it starts underground as a bulb for three or more years before producing flowers.

This also gives it the symbolism of hope and a new beginning.

PaganismIn Paganism, one of the lily varieties, the Easter lily, represents motherhood and gratitude to mothers.

What are the uses of the lily flower?

What are the uses of the lily flower

Besides using it as a wedding gift or house decor, the lily flower has a variety of ornamental, culinary, and medicinal uses that many people have enjoyed or benefitted from since ancient times.

Have a look below to know the true lily’s several benefits:

How can the lily flower be used in gardening?

The lily flower is a beautiful ornamental plant. It can be grown in a garden bed or pot.

Furthermore, it has a long blooming season and can brighten the house throughout the summer.

How can the lily flower be used in cooking?

All parts of lily flowers in the Lilium genus (true lilies) are edible, including the flowers, leaves, and stems.

The nutritious lily bulbs have been used as an ingredient for millennia. They can be eaten baked, added to stews, soups, or stir-fried dishes.

The bulb has a sweet, crunchy, and starchy taste. For this reason, it’s sometimes used as a substitute for potatoes.

Can the lily flower be used as medicine?

Can the lily flower be used as medicine

The lily flower can be used as medicine to relieve or treat different health conditions from sore skin to childbirth pain.

As a natural remedy

According to an NIH study, the Madonna or white lily has been used as a natural remedy to treat various conditions like burns, coughs, ulcers, diabetes, and age-related illnesses, among other ailments since ancient times.

It can achieve this through its natural extracts and a rich supply of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants that give them their taste, color, and aroma.

As a herbal tea

The roots or bulbs of the lily flower can be brewed into tea. This herbal tea has been used to treat fever and stomach issues as well as help women in labor.

As an ointment

Also, applied topically as an ointment, the lily flower is said to be able to cure sores and burns on the skin.

FAQs about the Lily Flower

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